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Single Parent Syndrome - ETCSINES

Our emphasis in this write up is on the concept of single parenting and how it affects the academic development of the child In Nigeria. The percentage of the Nigerian  family population that is existing as single parenting families has definitely increased in the last few years and we can not continue to ignore it's obvious presence.
Single parenthood as a concept has existed for a very long time and has been simply defined as " a parent, not living with spouse or partner, who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children. The issue of single parents usually occur due to separation, divorce, death of one partner, unmarried couples and teenage pregnancy.

The social life of children are very important for the continous existence of any culture. The family is said to be the most important place where socialization takes place, especially for children. Children in most communities are raised in a highly structured and disciplined manner, parents instill and inculcate strong basic moral, spiritual, social, physical and cognitive principles in their children.
A single parent might wonder if his or her status will affect their child’s development. There’s no doubt that coming from a single parent home does have some impact on children, but there’s no reason children of single parents can’t grow up happy and well adjusted.
We shall briefly highlight some of the factors that affect single parenting and by extension the child’s development and how they an be effectively tackled.
Poverty and its effects.

Single parent families are more likely to struggle with poverty. Being the sole income supplier can cause a noticeable gap between a single parent family and that of two-income parents. Poverty can be stressful and worrisome for children, causing them at times to feel frustrated and angry at the difference between them and their classmates or friends.

A family of one parent needs to learn how to manage the income and budget effectively, and also employ a style of looking for the cost effective way to do things. The second is to focus on what we can give the child in relation to our circumstances. You might not be able to get them the latest gadget, but you can develop a good relationship with them, and find fun things you can enjoy together for free. Thirdly we need to develop a buffer system of how the lack of money will not impact on the child's access to educational materials and quality education. It’s not easy, but with the right attitude, you and your child can get through this.

Academic achievement
Being from a single parent family can have a serious impact on the child’s academic development. If the situation in the family is caused by separation or divorce, the stress of the separation between partners and the resulting change to their life and routine can cause issues. It might also become mandatory to work for longer hours or maintain multiple jobs, with less time to dedicate to helping with homework or reading schedules. It is very important to stay in regular touch with their school and work in consonance with their teachers to tackle issues.
Self esteem and confidence.

The child’s self esteem, composure and confidence might be really affected when you become a single parent family. Children are quick to pick up on negativity and may blame themselves for the situation, or for your break up. There is need for the parent to be vigilant about the child’s emotional well being and self esteem. We can make time every day to talk with them about their day, and listen to what they say. We need to make the feel good about their feelings, and work on communicating with them in a way that builds confidence and encourages them to confide in us. The child needs to be taught to acknowledge their achievements, no matter how small. A simple “well done” or even a card or note reminding them that they’re doing great can make a really big difference.

Relationship with their other parent
The child’s relationship with their other parent might well suffer as the result of a separation. In some cases, the parent that does not have custody can become rather distant, and the child may be left feeling abandoned or worried that they’ve done something wrong.
We need to do everything to foster a good relationship between the child and their other parent. We can help this by sitting down with the other partner and making decisions about how to handle school work, vacations, visitation time, birthday and Christmas, and even little things like allowance or TV time.

 I have learned from experience that it is not healthy to breed resentment as you nurture your children, I know of a single woman that nurtured her daughter single handedly from a 6 year old till the lady went for the compulsory one year youth service program after graduating from the university, the father who had abandoned the family for almost two decades reconnected with the lady, showered her with money which was in short supply and the lady instantly changed her attitude to the father. The mother found it unbearable because she had lived in resentment and anger all the years and was almost in the process estranged from all the children.

The more the parents work together as a team, the more stable the environment  created will be for the kids. Observing both parent still working together to look after and support them will help the children feel less adrift. The more security you can create, the better it will be for your child’s development.

Stress and anxiety
The stress and anxiety of a separation or divorce can impact everything from your child’s school achievements to how well they relate to their peers. That’s why taking steps to reduce their stress and anxiety is vital. If the separation was particularly bitter and dramatic, the child will be exposed to a lot of negativity. Witnessing fights is upsetting for children, and so is hearing their parents speak badly about each other. Never criticize their other parent in front of them, and make sure any heated discussions take place out of earshot.

Don’t lean on your child emotionally – this will cause them a lot of stress and can impact their emotional development. Build up a strong support network of family and friends you can talk to about financial, work or other stresses, and leave your child out of it. If your child is old enough to understand, explain to them that none of the stress you’re suffering is their fault, and be reassure them that you love them and will always be there for them.

Becoming the child of a single parent is a difficult transition that can impact many areas of your child’s life. However, with love and commitment you can get them through this difficult time and help them to bloom and excel in their academics.

Thank you.

Writer: Tola Arawomo
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