For many, the ideal situation for a child to be raised in is in a home where there are two parents who are gainfully employed, actively involved in the child’s life and spend quality time with them. But these days, the face of parenting has drastically changed. There are more single-parent households than ever, with some form of shared custody or a situation where one parent is not involved. Even worse, in 2014, statistics showed that 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised without a father. While single-parent households aren’t anything new, they have become more prevalent. I have spoken about my own experiences as a single mother on this site, so I can relate.
With these statistics in mind, one can’t help but wonder what’s going on. I spoke with Patricia Cooper, the clinical director of the Community Counseling and Education Center in Santa Barbara, and she believes that in many cases, it’s not a bad thing for adults who share a child to parent separately. Each party may look at things or handle them in a different way, which could cause repetitive conflict and turn out bad for the child. Just because there are two parents in the household present for a child, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthy and happy home.
The other issues she believes could play a role in the way things are include people being unprepared for the transition of having kids. There is lack of communication, too many people coming to the realization that they didn’t want to be a parent in the first place (with or without the other parent being present), and people struggling to deal with the reality of the massive responsibility they have taken on. “People come together not prepared for the transition of having kids.” Having kids alters a relationship big time. If two people struggle to sustain a healthy connection, adding a child to the equation can be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I personally believe that single parenting is becoming more prevalent because of the standards people lack when it comes to relationships. We don’t value the significance and responsibility of having sex. Many of us simply act on physical attraction and lust instead of focusing on getting to know a prospective partner better. But as for the aftermath of such decisions, Cooper says it’s important for parents to be mature enough to come together and work things out in a peaceful way for the sake of their child. And for those contemplating having a child, she says that more people should really be sure that the person they’re with is someone they would want to bring a child into the world with. “The love between two people shifts and if there are barriers in communication, then people start to lead solo lives within the relationship.”
Cooper says that people need to think about the responsibility that comes along with parenthood and take it seriously, because once you start down that path, there’s no turning back.
While I don’t believe that there is anything that can be done to lessen the rate of single-parent households at this point, I do believe that every child brought into this world deserves the best from both parents. And if they can’t stand together as one, sometimes it’s best to stand separately for the good of the child.
Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? and an advocate for single women. Follow her on a Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.