Care and Wellbeing

Single-parent families

Psychological tips and suggestions to keep in mind

Single parent with child

Today, there are all sorts of different types of family which have very little to do with the traditional family concept. The single-parent family is one of these.

Single-parent nucleus: what does it mean?

A single-parent family is characterised by the absence of one of the parents. This type of family encompasses a wide variety of individual situations, including:

  • families with separated parents, where one of them lives at home with one or more children;
  • widowed parents, living alone with one or more children;
  • a single woman or man who decides to adopt.

Single-parent family: when and how to talk to children:

The first tip is not to wait too long: it's best to start talking to children before the age of 3. Indeed, children start to become aware that they only have one parent around the age of three, when they begin to enter the community: comparing their stories with their peers may give rise to the first uncomfortable feelings, and inevitably, this is when the first questions may arise. When children find out that birth is the fruit of love between two people, they may begin to feel different and out of place.

Explaining the absence of the other parent is not easy; it calls for a delicate approach and knowing how to use the right words: a mummy may have gone up to heaven because she was very poorly, or a daddy might not be nearby but may nonetheless exist, or both biological parents may be absent, but little ones in such situations know that they are very loved by their single-parent family. Children have the right to grow up feeling calm and happy, even in the absence of one parent.

Single parent: don't isolate yourself

Taking care of children as a couple means sharing tasks, chores, joy and sadness, and shouldering this commitment alone - either out of choice or necessity - is not easy. The only way to manage it is to ensure that you do not isolate yourself - opening up to the outside world as far as possible is key to feeling a sense of stability, and this will reduce the risk of your little one suffering or struggling, both in the short term and in the future. A study carried out in the United States on 1,700 seven-year-old children found no difference in school performance and behaviour between children raised by a single parent and those living with both, provided that the micro-family maintained relationships with other social groups of relatives or friends, and that the single parent did not seek to establish an excessively exclusive relationship with the child - for example, by always making them sleep in the big bed in an overprotective way, or by weighing them down with too many responsibilities.

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