The True Story
In many cases—OK, most cases—people are single parents because it is their best or only option. Despite what you hear in the media, single parenting is not all bad news—not at all. If you can manage to sort out the difficult issues of money, childcare, and your relationship (if any) with the child's other parent, single parenting can be a joy. You can gain an increased closeness with your kid, plus the increased sense of control or the opportunity to parent from your own vision.
It's vital to get support, though. Here are a few tips from the experts (single parents):
Understand the other parent's legal and financial responsibilities. Have the legal aspects sorted out as soon as possible. Talk to a lawyer—if the baby's other parent is living, he or she holds financial responsibility too.
Clarify custody and visitation. Keeping it casual is fine—for as long as you both agree. It's better to have your roles clearly defined LEGALLY for your own protection. The day may come when your baby's other parent may decide to move to Alaska—and take the baby along. Clearly, you need to know this cannot happen.
Clarify your specific needs for support, and ASK FOR HELP! Whether you're a single parent from the beginning, because of divorce, or because of the death of your spouse, you will need help from other people. Even if you decided to have the baby when everybody advised you not to... STILL ask for help.
Start with your own personal resource network. Who's in this network? Just about everybody you know. Your brother, your sister, your next door neighbor. Be specific about what you need. You don't want an ear for your whining, you want somebody to take the baby for an hour between two and three on Saturday afternoon so you get a)a nap, b)a shower, c)a massage and a manicure (yes, you deserve it, even if you ARE broke!). Rely on the kindness of childless adult friends who desperately want a little kid-action in their lives without (or before) doing it full time.
Sandi and Dan's Story
Sandi's life as a single parent began when she accidentally got pregnant by her "kind of" boyfriend Dan, even though she was on the birth control pill. Though Dan urged her to terminate the pregnancy, Sandi ultimately decided to have the baby—by herself, if need be. Dan was not happy about her decision. Sandi continued the pregnancy.
When Amanda was born, Dan was still partially in the picture. He'd spend the night a couple of times a week with Sandi, and he'd take Amanda for an occasional half hour. But Amanda was a difficult, high-energy, colicky baby, and Dan had trouble coping with the
situation. Dan dropped in and out—once in a while he'd take the baby for an outing, but
too often he'd cancel at the last minute, change his plans.