A Guide to Raising Kids as a Single Mom

FT Contributor  | 

Raising a child as a single mother in the U.S. is difficult. Getting a divorce is a major change that you and your child had to experience, but you’re tasked with juggling your divorce and still remaining a good parent to your child. While these can seem insurmountable at times, single mothers should know that there are strategies and resources they can utilize to achieve happiness and balance. Read on to discover how you can overcome the challenges of becoming a single parent.

Overcoming Challenges of Raising a Child as a Single Mother

Single mothers face a multitude of major challenges. Whether it’s a lack of support, child behavior issues, or a combination of both of these, know that there is actionable advice you can take to remedy these problems.

A Lack of Support

Raising a child without a spouse to provide reassurance, emotional support, and help in decision-making can leave a single mother feeling drained. Friends, family members, counseling, and support groups can help you persevere and be the best provider you can be for your child. If you’re feeling self-doubt, surround yourself with a strong support system. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted from having to parent 24/7, remember to take a step back and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. When you’re feeling a lack of support, turn to creative emotional support methods to keep yourself going.

Child Behavioral Issues

If you’ve recently been involved in a divorce, your children can experience a great deal of emotional turmoil, too. They may miss the other parent and start to feel guilty about your separation. As a result of those feelings, many children will act out. To help your kids understand what’s going on, be open and honest. Talk to your children about your divorce. Research shows that a strong relationship with both parents, minimal exposure to conflict, and open lines of communication can help your children adjust better to divorce.  

If you notice that your child starts acting out, you may need to seek help from a professional counselor. Divorce is a scary time for your kids, so if you see that your child is insecure or starts regressing in their sleep patterns or potty training, reach out to a professional. Some children will act out in anger or become overly clingy and exhibit attention-seeking behavior. If your child is acting out in any way, it’s important to get them the help they need.

Financial Tips for Single Mothers

Divorce means your income is going to become more limited, which necessitates strategic budgeting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that it costs more than $200,000 to raise a child to the age of 18. From education costs to extracurriculars and everyday needs like groceries and doctor’s visits, it’s imperative for single mothers to make the most out of their money. In addition to improving your own budget, modeling this behavior for your child can help them grow an understanding of financial fundamentals.

Create a Budget

To create a budget, analyze your income and your spending. Using your income as your baseline, add in any child support or alimony that you’re receiving from your former partner. Then look at what you spend each month. It’s best to divide your spending into two categories: essential and extra. Costs of housing, utilities, childcare, and groceries fall into the necessity category. Travel, entertainment, and other additional expenses fall into the extra category. These costs can be eliminated depending on how you structure your budget.

When it comes to saving, it’s important to remember to funnel money into an account that can be used for emergencies or future major expenses, like your child’s education.

Reducing Excess Spending

Cutting unnecessary purchases and subscriptions is one thing, but certain “extra” expenses like childcare can be a necessity for single mothers. How you choose to care for your child depends on what you can afford. Having a support network of friends and family can help you reduce childcare costs while providing your child with the care he or she needs. When creating a budget, look for areas where you can cut costs and reallocate funds to other expenses that are going to give your child the best life they can have.

Consider Higher Education

If you are looking to advance in your career so that you can make more money as a single mom, consider higher education courses. There are countless grants and scholarships for single mothers looking to earn a degree. Rising tuition costs can be intimidating, especially while maintaining a steady stream of income to care for your child. A degree can pay for itself in relatively little time, though — particularly if you qualify for financial aid.

Resources for Single Mothers

Fortunately, there are a wealth of resources out there for single mothers. If you are a single mom, take advantage of these resources so that you can be the best you for your child.

State and Territory Child Care and Development Fund Administrators 

Use this resource to find local childcare services and programs near you. Childcare programs are sorted by state, making it easy for any single mother in the United States to find convenient care for their kids.

SingleMotherGrants.org

This page offers links to many sources of financial aid for single mothers. Here you’ll find the largest directory of single mother grants to be used for rent payments, utility bills, childcare, education, and even medical bills.

HUD.gov: Rental Assistance

This resource provides information on housing and rental assistance. Privately- owned subsidized housing and other public housing options provide single mothers with affordable apartment options.


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