Finding Support When You’re a Single Parent
If you’re a single parent, you may feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do each day. In fact, it may seem like there are not enough hours to handle it all. Even though you’re doing your best, you may find yourself exhausted, isolated, and anxious.
But you are in good company. Many single parent families face a lot of the same problems:
Fewer social ties
More difficult health problems
Now the good news: Studies show that spending just 90 minutes a week with a group of other single parents can help improve your quality of life. It’s especially helpful if the group is free, provides some education about parenting or life as a single adult, and offers child care.
Advantages of a support group
Here are some of the specific benefits you can get from being part of a single parent support group:
Having a place to share your joys and your concerns and a safe place to vent your emotions
Getting tips for handling stresses in your life from people who have the same problems you do
Finding practical help, such as shared childcare
Getting a break from the kids, so you can be a better parent
How to find support
Many organizations offer programs for parents and children, some just for single parents. You might have to play detective to find those in your community. Try calling the following organizations in your area or check out their Web sites to find a support group:
Your local YMCA or YWCA. The Ys are focused on sports and wellness with programs and support groups for single parents.
Faith centers. Churches, temples, and other faith centers in your community may have single parent support groups.
Public libraries. Libraries often serve as meeting places for groups in addition to holding their own events. Call to find out about single parent options.
Hospitals. Many hospitals have parenting centers or family life programs that include parent-child events and parenting support groups.
Meetup.com. This is an online resource that lets you search for single parenting groups in your area.
Parents Without Partners. This organization will help you find a group near you. If one doesn’t exist, you can start your own with PWP’s help.
800-4-A-Child (800-422-4453). If you are having a really tough time right now and need immediate support and ideas, call this national hotline.
You may also find online-based support groups and resources for single parents. People who participate in online groups might live too far apart for regular meetings, but can still be very informative and helpful.
Things to consider
Try out a group once or twice to see if it’s a good match for you. Contact the group leader in advance to find a good day to begin. Also, if you will need childcare, ask if it’s offered.
You’ll get the most support from a group that you are able to commit to over time, so consider these questions:
Is the group easy to get to? Do you need assistance with the cost of transportation?
When are meeting times? Are they convenient for you?
Are there any membership fees, dues, or other costs (like books or snacks)?
Is childcare available, and for what ages?
Will you be expected to lead the group at some point?
Is the group faith-based or based on a certain way of thinking or believing that you agree with?
If one group isn’t right for you, try another. Parenting is a hard job, and you shouldn’t have to go it alone.