In many people’s eyes, the term “single parent” has been synonymous with worry, stress and poverty. There is a constant fear of financial loss and/or financial “lack”. In most studies, children coming from single parent homes are identified as almost always being raised in poverty. According to the US Census report released in 2009, single mothers represent 82.6% of all custodial parents. There is great focus on lack of financial resources, minimum wage salaries and the assumption that the child or children will not attend college. How can a single parent break the stereotype? What planning steps need to be made? More-over, what does success look like for the single parent? I believe there are four key elements that single parents must have in their life.
- Job Stability
We know that job prospects for an individual with only a high school diploma are very limited. It is critically important for a single parent to obtain higher education. The idea of going back to school may seem daunting. But pursuing a degree in a field you are interested in and which will increase your earning potential will pay off a lifetime of dividends. Along with providing more economic stability for your family, you are sending a strong message to your child: Education is not just for the parent. As they watch you gain life and career skills, they are preparing to build a future of education and earning power for generations to come. For those who may be concerned about cost, please see the financial aid and resource links at the end of my article.
Minimum wage or low wage jobs appear to be plentiful in our current economy. But, there are actually thousands of unemployed and/or undereducated people applying for these jobs. If you do not obtain a college degree, what separates you from the crowd? Suppose you obtain a bachelors’ degree in business. Then, you apply for that job at Starbucks or Target. Now that you have a degree, you have the education required to apply for that management position. After you obtain your college degree/degrees, you will see job stability improve in your life. A college degree is more likely to land you in a company with stability and strong benefits.
Right after financial concerns, adequate healthcare preoccupies the mind of the single parent. What if my kids lose coverage? What if they don’t have adequate coverage? If you have secured a job with great health care benefits you may feel you can rest easier. For those parents who haven’t secured adequate health care benefits, there is a multitude of options available. I am including a few links in my article. Please research further options in your home state.
This involves you, as the parent, making a conscious decision to be a life longer learner. Parents must be continually engaged in reading, learning and transferring these skills to your children. Constant growth and learning is necessary to stay informed, intelligent and academically agile. As you transfer your knowledge to your child and teach them to be life-long learners, you can help break the cycle of “perceived poverty”.
If you find yourself constantly worrying about money and providing financially, educate yourself in the area of the finance. Transfer this knowledge to your children. Train your children to read and learn about finances and saving.
In a previous article, I focused on how the absence of a father affects the development of children. I believe you will find this article helpful in becoming more aware of potential pitfalls your children face. Continually building your knowledge base will enhance your ability to strategically plan. Planning allows for prepared responses instead of reactive parenting or reactive decision making. When all of our decisions are “reactive”, life will be like swimming upstream against a raging current – exhaustive and discouraging.