Is it harder to raise a child as a single parent rather than both parents being present?

Is it harder to raise a child as a single parent rather than both parents being present?

Single parenting is a situation where a parent lives with a child or children and has no partner or spouse. It is the opposite of a situation where both parents are present in their child’s or children’s lives. In the current 21st century, many families worldwide have become separated by different situations, ranging from death, separation, or divorce, leading to single parenting. Apart from those separated by death, which means that the missing parent is forever gone, those separated by separation or divorce make different arrangements on how to raise their children without necessarily being together. It is true to say that single parenting is never an easy task. It means one person is tasked with the responsibilities of two people, which becomes overwhelming, and children are being raised in the absence of a key figure in their lives. In this paper, the main focus is on single parenting by looking at the main reasons giving rise to single parents, the hardships faced by single parents, and the effects it has on children, by looking at various research articles done on the topic and drawing from real life situations, as well as recommend healthy single parenting.

First and foremost, it is good to look at today’s typical American family setting to understand the concept of single parenting and differentiate it from a two-parent situation. There have been thorough changes in the institution of family and marriage. Divorce and separation cases are on the rise more than ever before, where more than fifty percent of American families are either divorced or separated (Buchanan & LeMoyne, 2020). Rates of marriage are lower than all the previous years because many people are marrying late or avoiding it at all costs. The number of children born out of wedlock is also on a severe rise due to the erosion of the marriage institution. Forty percent of children born today are born to single mothers compared to the sixties when ninety-five percent of children were born to married couples. Amidst all these changes in family structure, many families are able to overcome the challenges, and parents stick together. Some divorce or separate but still raise children together by sharing responsibilities. Still, we cannot overlook we challenges and hardships of single parenting. They are evident every day around us.

On matters of single parenting, the issues of divorce or separation have never failed to pop up as the primary and most common causes compared to the death of a spouse. Divorce or separation are brought about by different reasons ranging from personal, economic, and societal problems.

When one parent is left in charge of a family, be it one child or children, it is a life-changing moment with numerous responsibilities and hardships. First of all, a parent is obliged to the role of provider. A child knows no better than to expect their parent to step in for whatever necessity. All financial needs are left in charge of one person, which strains them. Utility bills have to be paid, children have to be fed and dressed, and the parent has to meet their personal financial needs. Those with no stable jobs resort to taking extra jobs to meet their needs, making it difficult to spend adequate time with their children—in a situation where both parents are present, either married or co-parenting, providing for children does not pose a massive challenge because there is sharing of responsibilities by the parents.

The other big challenge is the psychological and emotional torture a single parent goes through, caused by feelings of isolation and loneliness. There is always the feeling of being lonely, not only physically but also emotionally. For instance, a parent is faced with many decisions to make both for their children and themselves. Juggling through thoughts and dilemmas on their own is equally stressful because no human is perfect, and anyone is prone to mistakes and bad decisions. Such parents feel isolated and lonely because they don’t have someone close to talk to. A situation like this leads to stress and, if not controlled, might lead to depression. In a setting where both parents are present, there is always the feeling of a support system, both in children and their parents, which somehow combats stress.

Single parenting is also faced with feelings of being overstretched. A single parent is expected to provide and, at the same time, spend time with their children, something that is equally strenuous. Workplace commitments and parental responsibilities are hard to balance since both are demanding. Single parents always feel torn between the two, barely at rest. They are ever stretched, and with time, this leads to stress. Feelings of resentfulness, anger, and irritability develop because of the overwhelming demands. If not correctly put in check, children might become victims of these behavioral developments. In situations where both parents are available, the cases are somewhat different and better.

Another notable hardship of single parenting is the lack of personal time. With a child or children in the picture, all priority belongs to them and their needs. There will be countless times dropping or picking up their children from school just before leaving for or coming from work. They will later have to help their children with homework, and on weekends, the children will have practice to attend or a picnic where the parent must accompany them, showing how the schedule is always tight. To give them a better life and future, the majority of parents sacrifice everything, including their own needs. In most cases, these parents come to a point where they neglect themselves and forget that personal time is a necessity, a time for relaxing and strategizing or simply engaging in a personal activity.

The other group which is mainly affected by single parenting is children. While single parents may have the strength to bear being alone, children are most vulnerable. Considering home is the primary education unit, where a child is nurtured, shaped, and prepared for the future, single parenting somehow destroys this vital structure. Suppose you compare a child raised by both parents to that raised by a single parent. In that case, there are notable variations in behavior, social interactions, cognitive activities, etc., going all the way up to adulthood.

To begin with, various researchers in the field of education have proposed that children from single-parent families have reported slow learning and behavioral problems in classrooms (Pruthi, 2022). According to experts, there is trauma that a child goes through when one parent is absent. The said trauma affects the area of the brain responsible for learning and mental development, leading to slow learning skills. Teachers also attested to spending more time and attention on such children at school. As tasked by their mandate and professional ethics, they are doing their best to ensure they help these students overcome these challenges by using classroom interventional methods. On a different note, children from families with both parents or co-parented proved to be fast learners, had better comprehensive skills and appeared happier. It is enough proof that the absence of one parent in a child’s life puts him through traumatic stress.

Another detrimental effect of single parenting on children is social relations. Children from single-parent backgrounds have difficulties making friends or maintaining healthy friendships. This is common in both school going children and adults who were raised by a single parent. For the students, they prefer being alone and doing things by themselves. They are not interested in group activities. This can be attributed to what they learned from their parents; the thought of being independent and handling things by themselves. Even in physical activities or any other engaging activity, these children show little or no interest at all. Real trouble begins when these become adults and start engaging in serious relationships. Their relationships are always unstable due to commitment phobia which is caused by lack of emotional security (Masci, 2001). Lack of successful relationships by their parents makes them grow working towards being successfully single.

Another common result of single parenting on a child is the negative health effect. The absence of one parent means that the present parent is solely tasked with the responsibilities of two parents, a situation that leads to a busy schedule hence no time with the children. Feelings of neglect will start developing in the children’s minds which leads to negative perception, anger, violent emotions, isolation, and suicidal thoughts. As a result of all these, problems such as drug abuse, alcoholism, and violence are likely to occur in these children, as they try to suppress stress, release tension and be free from emotional pain (Ali & Soomar, 2019).

Having looked at the negative effects and challenges that come with single parenting, one cannot deny that there is also the positive side of it, even though the odds are very low. First of all, single parenting makes children mature faster. The amount of responsibility bestowed on one parent requires that children have to step in and assist their parents where necessary, in a bid to share responsibilities and for the better of everyone in the family. Children develop a sense of responsibility at an early age and are more likely to become responsible adults. Traumatic stress also has a way of shaping children to be good at handling disappointments and unstable emotions.

Another advantage of single parenting is the strong and unique bond it creates between children and their parents. In a two-parent home setting, the attention is always divided because parents have to give attention to each other and the children also, whereas a single parent’s attention is always focused on children. For instance, if there is any free time, single parents get a chance to strengthen relationships with their children by spending quality time together. Considering the fact that members of the extended family are in most situations involved in raising children of single parents, whether directly or indirectly, this support system is of essential help to the children. Bonds grow stronger due to the kind of attention given to the children.

Being a single parent does not always have to be associated with problems and negative attitude because, with proper and strong strategies in place, single parenting can achieve as much as a two-parent setting, both for the parent and for the child, something that can teach the society to change their attitude towards single parent families (Roepe, 2019). Single parents are capable of raising happy and healthy children, despite the challenge that comes with it. Some intervention strategies can be introduced at the parental or societal level.

At the parental level, single parents should create strong and positive relationships with their children. Children get a sense of security and love when they are close with their parents, and on the other hand, the parents feel better when that strong bond exists. This can be achieved by showing interest in the child or children by discussing about the future with them or simply by showing interest in the child’s favorite game or hobby (Single parenting – Better Health Channel, 2022). Another way of building positive relationships is by creating more time for children. It could be at any time, any day and anywhere. Although it is hard to have all the time for children due to the amount of responsibility and commitment of a single parent, it is always good to go that extra mile to create time for your child or children. This leaves them feeling appreciated and gives them a sense of belonging.

Single parents should encourage good behavior in their children (Lemons,2017), by being role models themselves. They should set clear and concise rules, as well as boundaries for their children, something that is commonly challenging. However, it should be noted that it is an essential requirement if one expects positive results. Clear rules include telling children what is expected of them in terms of behavior, not forgetting adherence to house rules. Parents should be at the forefront of enforcing the set rules before even depending on other caregivers. Encouraging good behavior instills discipline in a child and in turn, it gives the parent a sense of being in charge and pride in themselves for raising disciplined children.

At the societal level, instead of stigmatizing single parent families, key players should play roles that are of help to such families. For instance, teachers at school can go beyond their mandate and give more attention and time to children from single parent families, in a bid to secure their academic success and keep these children in school. Teacher-parent associations can set up workshops and seminars for single parents and equip them with skills that will help them deal successfully with hardships that come along the way. Government can come up with policies and legislations that caters for single parent family’s welfare. For example, in terms of monetary support. The church is also tasked with a huge responsibility of being in the frontline of helping single parent families through emotional or any other kind of support.

Having looked at the challenges faced by single parent families, one can confidently say that indeed, single parenting is a hard task as compared to a two-parent setting. However, two-parent families are not always perfect or without challenges. In-fact it does not guarantee that children will be raised better. Weighing down on the matter of difficulties, challenges and impact on children, it is right to say that where two parents are present, parenting is much easier and the outcome much better. Without stigmatizing single parent families, one can conclude that it is indeed hard being a single parent but with better intervention strategies, the burden can be eased.




Masci, D. (2001, January 19). Children and divorce. CQ Researcher, 11, 25-40.

Lemons, J. (2017, December 1). Future of marriage. CQ researcher, 27, 993-1016.

Roepe, L. (2019, November 8). The gender pay gap. CQ researcher, 29, 1-18.

Single parenting. Single parenting – Better Health Channel. (2022, February 24).


Pruthi, S. (2022, February 25). Single parent? tips for raising a child alone. Mayo Clinic.

Buchanan, T., & LeMoyne, T. (2020). Helicopter parenting and the moderating impact of gender and single-parent family structure on self-efficacy and well-being. The Family Journal28(3), 262-272.

Yanuarsari, R., Muchtar, H. S., & Sintiawati, N. (2021). The Influence of Single Parent Parenting in Forming Early Childhood Independence. KnE Social Sciences, 99-108.













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