There are two things that are hard to prepare for until it happens to you: parenthood and single parenthood. Many of us have pictured what raising our own child would look like, but real life can sometimes be far from our daydreams.
Thanks to shows like Teen Mom, there are even young couples trying to get pregnant early on because of the slight possibility they could get famous from it. But if there's anything we've learned from that show it's that being a parent—and a single one at that—is incredibly challenging. Below we have 10 things single parents wish they knew before having their children. Although it's hard to prepare for these kinds of things, you can at least be mentally prepared.
10 KEEPING AN OPEN RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR EX DOESN'T ALWAYS STAY THAT WAY
As much as we would love to be that cool couple who decides to "consciously uncouple" for the benefit of their kids, it's easier said than done. Many moms and dads think once their romantic relationship is done remaining friends is a real possibility due to their mutual love for their child(ren). But that's not always the case. Once one of you begins dating, wants to move, or has a separate idea on how to raise your child, tensions can rise instantly. You may go through spurts of hatred to full-on friendship with one another.
9 BUT OVER TIME YOUR TOXIC RELATIONSHIP CAN GROW INTO A LOVING FRIENDSHIP
As much as we would love a breakup to be civil and mutual, it doesn't always end that way. Deep down, both parties are hurting and they grieve in their own way. But just because you couldn't make it as a romantic couple doesn't mean you can't be two helpful and loving parents to your kids. Keep the communication open, have respect for each other's personal life, and love each other for simply being (and wanting to be) a part of your children's lives.
8 DATING IS WAY MORE AWKWARD THAN YOU COULD IMAGINE
Depending on the type of person you are, some single parents can't wait to get back in the dating game while others are dreading it. There are couples who have been together their entire adult lives. Dating can be hard when your last first date was over a decade ago.
Single parents will also feel some kind of guilt for leaving their kids just to go on a date. And how soon is too soon to have your new beau meet your little ones? We wish dating was easier but it only gets more awkward.
7 YOU'RE GOING TO FEEL A LOT OF RESENTMENT FROM TIME TO TIME
Depending on how you deal with stress, you may feel resentment towards other parents or for the particular situation you're in. You, of course, want what's best for everyone but you can't help but feel resentment towards parents who are still together or maybe a couple who was in a similar position but made it work with their spouse. However, over time the resentment will fade and you'll be a happier person for it.
6 AND YOU'RE GOING TO JUDGE ANY NON-SINGLE MOM WHO COMPLAINS
For many single parents, they do everything themselves. Hiring a babysitter or a tutor costs money and now that they're living in a single-income home, they try to save as much as they can.
The thing is, every parent (whether they're single or not) has a right to complain about not having time or enough help. But for a single parent, they can't help but judge those who have all the help in the world and still complain. If they think putting their child to bed on time or waking up multiple times alone is bad, try being a single parent where that's the norm every single day.
5 BUT YOU'RE NOT ALWAYS GOING TO BE SAD, STRESSED, OR ANGRY
There is a stereotype out there that insists single parents aren't happy. They must be constantly lonely and seeking validation for their parenting styles. But that's not always the case. Most single parents feel a new sense of independence. They feel liberated that they're free. They can raise their children on their own terms, have their own safe space, and get to do the things they never could when they were with their ex. Being a single parent is hard at times but that doesn't mean each parent is miserable.
4 YOU'LL LEARN WHO YOUR TRUE FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE
Depending on the circumstances, a single parent really finds out who their true friends and family members are when they find themselves in a bind. Who steps up to the plate when they need a sitter?
Who constantly checks up on them to make sure they're okay? Who goes the extra mile to make sure they're in their child's lives? As parents, you appreciate those who care about your wellbeing, but it's also eye-opening when you notice people who you thought would be there and aren't.
3 YOU WILL FEEL EVEN MORE ATTACHED TO YOUR CHILD
Now that it's just you and your child(ren), you may feel more attached to them than before. Whether you're sharing custody with them or have sole custody, you are their guardian, their parent, and their protector. They're going to lean on you (and only you) for all aspects of their life. If you feel a deeper rush of adrenaline to protect and prepare your child for life now that you're a single parent, that's just par for the course.
2 YOU'RE NEVER NOT WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE
People always say that the moment you have a child, sleep goes out the window. Even when your kids grow out of the baby phase and can sleep through the night, there's never a moment where you're not semi-worrying about them. As a single parent, you may worry about your own parenting skills and if you're doing enough. You're also most likely worrying about finances, college, dating, how to handle the teenaged years... Parents worry because they care, and that worrying only deepens as a single parent.
1 YOUR CHILD NEEDS YOU MORE THAN EVER
Whether your child's other parent is in the picture or not, your child needs you more than ever. It doesn't matter what age they are — as long as their under your roof, you're the person they need. Knowing that you're solely in charge of this little human's life can be overwhelming at times but they need you as much as you need them. As bust as single-parenthood is, be present for your child and let them know they can always come to you.