New Weekly Series “Challenges of Divorce: Single Parenting”
Challenges of Divorce Series: Part 1
“ Single Parenting and crime rates in Utah”
The hardest thing to face as a single parent in Utah are the intense emotions associated with being both a mother and a father to a child. This is further magnified when the other parent is absent or is deliberately not doing anything to fulfill his/her part in the caring for the children. More often than not, the single parent’s psychological well being bogs down.
Single parents might try to cope with this strain by either trying to compensate by adopting both mom and dad roles, or by scouring the social scene for a partner to help him or her in the rearing of the child. The pressure is definitely high.
However, if truth be told, none of the above will help. If anything, they might even cause you to become more stressed. And when you end up being more stressed than ever, chances are this will reflect and magnify on your child.
If you are a single parent, ask yourself. How does your behavior and general outlook toward life affect your kid? Upon closer scrutiny, you might just find out that your child’s constant tantrums and bouts of unexplained anger might just be the result of your continuing negativity. It is for these reasons that you should be careful.
Several studies show that children coming from single-parent households are more susceptible to destructive or rebellious behavior, not just because society imposes the need for a two-parent structure, but also, more often than not, the custodial parent is either too guilty that he or she smothers his child, or too busy to make ends meet to show how much he or she cares.
According to one study, about 90% of the change in crime rates between 1973 and 1995 had been accounted for by children born into single-family setups and those that had been born outside of marriage.
While this is not entirely true for all cases of that cover single parent households, we cannot discount the fact that majority of reports conducted in lieu of single parenthood and crime rates show that they are, indeed, linked.
Children born into two-parent, or ‘intact’ homes, are also susceptible to committing crime, so it would be impulsive to generalize that all kids under one-parent households are likely to become criminals.
Sure, two-parent settings place some sort of balance to a child’s psychological well-being. However, it should also not be discounted that kids who grew up under an unhappy but intact home are also prone to some form of destructive behavior.
If you are a single parent in Utah, the best thing you can do to prevent this from happening is to be there for your child. You don’t really need to be available 24-7 and spend so much just to show him or her that you care. The mere fact that you make it clear, in the occasions that you can, that your child’s well-being is your utmost priority is enough.
Never forget to tell your child that you love him or her. Do away with discussing the negative, especially if it’s against the other parent, no matter how distressed you are with him or her.
If you are having trouble reaching out to your kid, particularly if you’re realizing this need just now and your child is already a teen, seek counseling. Or have a one on one talk with your child so that both of you will understand each others feelings openly. Honesty is key in a single parent setting. If both parent and child are honest about what they think and feel, the less likely a rebellion would occur. One area of true concern in Utah is religious affiliations. Make sure you discuss this with your child, find out what they believe and encourage them to seek what they want, even if it is not exactly what you believe. Letting them know they can make their own choices but have your full support will help when other situations arise and they don’t get involved in criminal activities because of these types of discussions.
While you do feel somehow guilty for being a single parent (you may sometimes even think it’s your fault that your kid is exhibiting rebellious behavior), you should immediately try to take it out of your system. Guilt will only magnify the ill effects on your child and might even push him or her further into ill behavior.
Simply put, a positive attitude will do wonders. A happy household, whether in a two-parent or single parent setting, is still a happy household. And this is all that is going to matter.
Article for Atticus Legal Group Divorce Lawyers in Salt Lake City and Sandy Utah.