For you who’s a single parent
Many people are single mothers or fathers. Some choose to raise their child on their own, while others find themselves alone for other reasons. How you as a single parent think about your social life will affect your child’s development and the way it encounters the world.
When you have an infant, you’ll find yourself facing demands which mean you need respite, support and help. So it’s important – and makes sense – to involve other people. They could be good friends, family members or other single parents. The Norwegian Association for Single Parents (Aleneforeldreforeningen) also has its own local branches where adults and children can meet. Being together with people you like and trust is the most important thing. In order for your child to develop in the best possible way, it should be together with other people as well as its mother or father. An infant needs to see you interacting with others so that it can learn to interact itself. According to an old African saying, it takes a whole village to raise a child. While that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, it does express an important truth. Good companionship with others will strengthen the bond between you and your child – and between the child and others.
Grandparents, your own siblings and other family members can be a resource for your child and an important source of respite for you. Contact with your family can help to give your child valuable relationships and positive experiences.
Virtually all people are social animals, and thrive in the company of others. Some also believe that one factor in enjoying a good life is to have positive relationships or to succeed in finding and keeping friends.
Your way of being together with other people will mean a lot for your child’s development. Being part of a good and secure community will strengthen your baby and yourself. Remember – you’re the most important person for your child. Through you, it learns the significance of being in good relationships as well as something about how to treat other people. You’re quite simply your child’s tutor in how to behave socially. The baby you’re expecting or which has already arrived must eventually learn to be social, and how people behave with others.
We can actually train on what we choose to emphasise in our lives. If you’re a single parent, it’s particularly important that you know being together with others and your child is very positive for its development.
Many people around you are sure to want to support both you and your baby. If you build a good network, it can be easier to ask for help when you need it. When your baby is demanding your attention every single day, it can be good to have somebody you can ask to take over for a bit – so that you can have a nap or a break, for example. Once the baby gets a bit older, spending a little time with other adults can help to recharge your batteries, obtain other impulses and enjoy different experiences. To achieve this, it’s particularly important that your child feels secure with possible babysitters. And getting to know somebody with an infant the same age as yours could provide your child with a playmate. Perhaps you could also babysit for each other, so that you can occasionally have an evening off for yourself. Going for a run, visiting a cafe or spending a few hours alone at home can be welcome in a busy daily life.
Many health clinics offer support groups aimed especially at single parents. They also introduce you to others in your position in the vicinity. Some clinics also have other offers which can be useful – such as groups for exchanging clothes and equipment, or for various indoor or outdoor activities. Staying in regular contact with the clinic can be a great help. You will find midwives, health visitors and doctors there who all have experience of the problems single parents can face. They can also help with other queries you might have.
It’s important to involve other people, both for you and for the baby. The child needs to see you interacting with others in order to learn how to interact itself.
The content on this page has been developed in cooperation with Tine Gammelgaard Aaserud, clinical lead, Nurse-Family Partnership, Regional Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Eastern and Southern Norway (RBUP).