How should a single parent talk to a child about separation or divorce?

Many single-parent families are the result of divorce or separation. If this is the case in your family, talk to your child about the changes you're facing. Listen to your child's feelings and try to answer his or her questions honestly — avoiding unnecessary details or negativity about the other parent. Remind your child that he or she did nothing to cause the divorce or separation and that you'll always love him or her.

A counselor might be able to help you and your child talk about problems, fears or concerns. Try to regularly communicate with your child's other parent about your child's care and well-being to help him or her adapt.

How can a single parent handle dating?

If you're dating, consider the impact your new romantic partner will have on your child. Look for a partner who will treat both you and your child with respect. Consider waiting until you've established a solid relationship with someone before introducing him or her to your child.

When you're ready to make the introduction, explain to your child some of your new partner's positive qualities. Don't expect your new partner and your child to become close immediately, however. Give them time to get to know each other.

How can a single parent address the lack of a male or female parental role model for a child?

If your child's other parent isn't involved in his or her life, you might worry about the lack of a male or female parental role model in your child's life. To send positive messages about the opposite sex:

  • Look for opportunities to be positive. Point out accomplishments or positive characteristics of members of the opposite sex in your family, the community or even the media. Avoid making broad, negative statements about the opposite sex.
  • Contradict negative stereotypes about the opposite sex. Share an example of a member of the opposite sex who doesn't fit the stereotype.
  • Include in your life members of the opposite sex who aren't romantic partners. Seek out positive relationships with responsible members of the opposite sex who might serve as role models for your child. Show your child that it's possible to have long-term, positive relationships with members of the opposite sex.

Being a single parent can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By showing your love and respect, talking honestly and staying positive, you can lessen the stress of single parenting and help your child thrive.

May. 17, 2014 See more In-depth