Tips for dealing with people’s attitudes to single parents

You can’t control people’s attitudes to you, but you can control how you respond.

Here are some ideas.

Choose how much you tell people
People can be curious, but you don’t have to explain why and how you became a single parent if you don’t want to. You might prefer to keep it general and say something like ‘I’m enjoying raising Meg alone’.

Prepare your child to answer questions 
People might ask your child about his family situation, so you could help him work out what to say. For example, he could say ‘I live with my Mum’, or ‘I have two homes’.

Surround yourself with what you need
It can help to spend time with other happy single-parent families. It’s a great support for you. It also gives your child a chance to see that there are lots of families like hers.

Keep up a healthy social life
It’s good for you and your child to stay in touch with other people. When you feel connected to others, everyone’s mental and physical health improves. Make a special effort to invite friends over regularly or meet up somewhere.

If friendships change after you become a single parent, think positively about ways you can meet new people. For example, you could join community groups, volunteer committees or sporting clubs.

Show your child that he’s not different
You could read books or watch movies about single-parent families or children who live in two separate homes. For example, try the picture book Two Homes by Claire Masurel. Ask at your local library or bookstore or search online for other suggestions.

Foster family pride
One way to develop a close family identity is to talk with your child about your family’s strengths. These might include being there for each other, helping the neighbours, or taking part in community events.

You and your child could also make up a family motto or draw a family shield with pictures of the things that represent your family. For example, you could draw hobbies or interests that you share or your favourite memories.

Talk creatively about your family
Be creative about how you talk about your family. Increasingly children think about ‘family’ in terms of emotional ties rather than biological ties. They might include people like stepsiblings, step-parents, their parents’ former partners, or friends. The term ‘single-parent family’ probably won’t feel right to your child, so you don’t need to use it.

When I’d explain that I was raising Charlotte on my own, people would initially feel sorry for me, which is not what I wanted at all. Occasionally they would almost make me feel inferior. I had to learn to shrug that off.
– Phil, 30, single father raising one daughter