Single military parents can thrive with support

Single parents without partners take on day-to-day caregiving duties, but having to “do it all” on your own can be a challenge. Still, single-parent families thrive when there’s strong parent-child communication and a network of community support. The military also has resources in place to help.

Single-parent families form in many ways: divorce, having kids while living apart from your partner, or her or his death. Becoming a single parent after loss can be a particularly hard transition. Perseverance and optimism can ease your challenge, so it’s important to express your emotions and feel confident you’ll find a new norm. Whatever your circumstance, when single parents feel supported—by their families, communities, and partners (if they have one)—they tend to manage better and feel less isolated.

However, some Service Members might face more unique challenges than other single parents. Single military parents must manage through frequent moves, extended separations during TDYs and deployments, and other career demands without the stable help of a spouse or partner.

The military offers childcare support, which might be especially helpful for single military parents. MilitaryChildCare.com provides comprehensive information on military-operated or approved childcare programs within the U.S. and abroad. Child Care Aware® of America also can help you find quality programs in your area and branch-specific programs that offer help with paying for childcare. Military OneSource offers tips on how to find childcare on and off your installation as well.

There are many resources that can help you feel supported and strengthen your relationship with your children too. For example, take the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs online course about positive parent-child communication and discipline to improve communication with your kids.

References

Barajas, M. S. (2011). Academic achievement of children in single parent homes: A critical review. The Hilltop Review, 5(1), 13–21. 

Benzies, K., & Mychasiuk, R. (2009). Fostering family resiliency: A review of the key protective factors. Child & Family Social Work, 14(1), 103–114. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2008.00586.x

Blanchard, S. E. (2012). Are the needs of single parents serving in the Air Force being met? Advances in Social Work, 13(1), 83–97. 

Greeff, A. P., & Ritman, I. N. (2016). Individual characteristics associated with resilience in single-parent families. Psychological Reports, 96(1), 36–42. doi:10.2466/pr0.96.1.36-42

Jackson, A. P., Brooks-Gunn, J., Huang, C., & Glassman, M. (2000). Single mothers in low-wage jobs: Financial strain, parenting, and preschoolers' outcomes. Child Development, 71(5), 1409–1423. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00236