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
Who is Sarah Thompson?
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)
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