Meeting with single-parent families
A single-parent family refers to a family in which the everyday routines are primarily the responsibility of one parent. In single-parent families, the parent may have full custody, joint custody, alternating weeks with the child, or may be a single person who is pregnant. In Finland, more than one fifth of all families are single-parent families and every third child lives in a single-parent household at some point in their lives. More than 80% of single-parent families are headed by mothers.
From the children’s perspective, the single-parent family is a complete family just like any other.
What should a professional take into consideration when meeting with single-parent families?
When meeting with single-parent families, it is essential to listen closely to the family’s story.
Single-parenthood is not necessarily a problem or misfortune; it may be a solution and may provide a calmer and safer environment for the children in comparison to their previous family situation.
A single parent may be the result of divorce, widowhood or may even be the desired form of parenthood from the beginning.
The children may also retain close relationships with another parent or other adults in their lives.
Single-parent families have a more challenging financial situation in comparison to other families. The reason for this is that the family relies on the income of only one adult; women receive, on average, a lower salary than men; and it is often difficult for a parent of young children to find work.
It is important to consider the network of adults that a single parent has – does he/she have friends, a relationship with a possible ex-spouse, peer support? Does the parent have any help with the daily functioning of the family or is he/she constantly with the children?
The adult in single-parent families sometimes needs practical help. Even the smallest support can often be the assistance they need to cope with everyday life.