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Single Parents

Father and son playing
In praise of single parents, the unsung heroes among us.

Single parents do the work of two people, while often dealing with relationship challenges and trying to build a safe and protective family. It’s tiring—no, it’s exhausting. It sometimes feels difficult—make that, impossible. But you’re doing your best for your family, and that’s something to be proud of.

Your family might be bruised, but it is not broken, says Nigel Latta in his new book The Modern Family, and simply having two parents in the house isn’t automatically the best situation for your children.

Being a single parent gives you the chance to build the most supportive environment for you and your children. If you don’t have family nearby, create your own urban family. One mother asked a close friend to be a ‘godmother’, even though it wasn’t part of her tradition. It meant her child had a caring aunty-figure nearby, who could give Mum a break, too.

If you become isolated, it can be easy to make your children your ‘best friends’. But children do best if you maintain your role as the authority and adult—don’t ask your child to become your confidante or to split their loyalties between parents. Always protect your children from grown-up issues, such as tensions with your ex or financial issues.

New Zealand Single Parenting recommends counselling to help work through many of the complex feelings that can go with raising children by yourself. Citizens Advice Bureau also has information on local counselling services, as well as financial services to make sure you’re getting the help you’re entitled to from the government. If you have an ex, Family Court offers up to three free counselling sessions a year to help resolve any issues, such as care arrangements for your children.

Most of all, encourage yourself! Parenting is considered the hardest job in the world. If you are loving your children, protecting them from hurts and providing their needs, you’re not just a parent—you’re a hero.