Single parenting – parenting teenagers alone and why it’s okay

The world is set up for dual parent families, says today’s podcast guest Sarah Thompson, who discovered all sorts of hurdles were placed in her way when she became a single mother. However, there is a silver lining; Sarah thinks children can benefit from divorce, and that includes teenagers with single mothers. However, there is a silver lining, and Sarah has written a compelling book about everything she thinks her children have benefited from since their parents’ separation.

Listen to the podcast to find out why solo parenting can work out well even when you have teenagers.

The world has taken a dim view of single mothers in the past and Sarah Thompson says it’s one more example of the patriarchy in action. While fathers who look after their children are applauded (even if it’s just for an afternoon), single mothers are regarded in the press as a drain on the economy, or something of a failure. Sarah says nothing could be further from the truth, and even thinks there are some benefits to parenting teenagers alone.

Why single parenting can be good for the kids

There’s very little research around the positives of a single parent family, but there are several. Here are some of the ways Sarah says her kids have benefitted from being raised by a single mother:

  • Resilience – kids have the opportunity to experience different situations from the ‘norm’. Consequently they learn to tolerate difference and gan experience of logistical problem-solving.
  • Emotional maturity – children who’ve had to navigate life with only one parent around at a time tend to take a more collaborative approach to relationships and the practicalities of running a home. It sets them up well for being housemates and partners who are appreciated in the future.
  • Organisation – teenagers who live between two homes become very organised as they learn to plan for their week and ensure they have everything they need.
  • Independence – likewise, children of single parents learn to think for themselves

Research has shown that children with poorer outcomes tend to come from lower income families, irrespective of their home set-up. Having two parents at home doesn’t see to make any difference to their future prospects.

Sarah and I compare notes on the things that go wrong in our houses (think lost keys, crisps for dinner, and security issues) and agree that they’re the same in all busy families – single parent or otherwise! And we talk about allowing our kids to fail sometimes, and how they learn life lessons from that.

Advice for single parents of teenagers

Sarah’s best advice is to find your people. Ask your friends for help and be prepared to accept it. There’s also a great charity called Gingerbread, who give excellent advice for single parents, including on how to manage your finances, and what benefits are available to you. If you’re entitled to Universal Credit don’t feel shame around claiming it – even if you’re in full time work you may still be entitled to it.

She says single motherhood is also a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with your female friends on a different level, as well as gaining new friendships.

Listen to the podcast

View on Zencastr

Who is Sarah Thompson?

Writer and Author Sarah Thompson photographed by Alun Callender

Sarah Thompson is a Sunday Times bestselling author and journalist. Sarah’s features, on subjects ranging from parenting and divorce to sex, mental health and female friendship, have appeared in numerous publications including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Daily Mail. She’s also written books about the perils of modern motherhood (You’re So Mummy, published by Michael Joseph). Sarah is the (single) mother of two children and lives in Bridport, Dorset.

Happy Single Mother is available in most bookstores and on Amazon (Affiliate link)

Subscribe to the Teenage Kicks podcast

Thank you so much for listening! I really appreciate every listener, and would love you to subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to explore previous episodes that might be of interest to you or a friend – including losing a parent, being hospitalised with mental health problems, and battling an eating disorder.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for future topics on the Teenage Kicks podcast. Contact me here, or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamhelenwills. I appreciate every message, and love to hear from my listeners.

For information on your data privacy please visit Zencastr. Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in this blog or in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you’re worried about a young person please seek support from a medical professional.

Join me in the Teenage Kicks Facebook group!

If you’re a parent of teens it can be difficult to know where to go for advice, to vent, or just to talk. So I’ve made the Teenage Kicks Facebook group, for all parents of teenagers to chat in a safe space. You can request to join by clicking the button below. It’s a private group and everyone in there will be a parent of teenagers.

And if you’re stuck for how to engage with your teenager, this list of things for teens to do might be helpful.

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