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Parental Emotional Health

Lone Parenting

You may be raising your child as a lone mum or dad. This may have always been the plan, or it may be something you did not expect. Being a small family unit can be a very positive experience where you can focus on your relationship with your child or children and consistently parent them in the way that feels right to you.

Parenting alone might sometimes be more challenging and it is important to take care of yourself and seek support during harder times.

As a single parent you might have to find a way to parent with an ex partner, or a parent who does not live with you. Keeping the focus on what your child needs is important, whatever your situation. Working together to make sure your child has safe, positive, regular and predictable contact with both parents should always be the aim.

Find our more about working together as parents

Dive Deeper

Solo Parenting

You may go into parenting alone from the start. Many lone parents feel that in some ways it can be easier to raise a child or children solo.

  • You can parent in the way you choose
  • You make the decisions
  • Your child always has the same rules and routines
  • You can concentrate on your relationship with your children.

It can also be challenging for the same reasons; it might sometimes feel a big responsibility on your own. It can be tiring and you might miss grown up company.

Involving trusted family and friends in your child’s life can be good for you both. It can mean that you get a break sometimes and there are other people who know your child well to talk through any worries you have.

If you do not have a network of people nearby it can help to connect with other parents in similar situations. You can join Just One Norfolk's online parent forum or Gingerbread has forums and arranges single parent meet ups.

New Partners

You may meet a new partner and be wondering how and when to introduce them to your child. Meeting someone new can be a very exciting and hopeful time for you. It might be tempting to bring the person into your child’s life in the early days of your relationship.

Patience is important when deciding when to introduce a new partner into your children’s life. You need to be confident that your relationship is likely to be long lasting. It is confusing for children to meet new people that do not stay in their life for long.

Keeping a new relationship between you and a new person, separate from your children, allows you to;

  • Enjoy the exciting early relationship days and to get to know them better and feel more confident about the future.
  • Get to know their thoughts on children and family life – will they ‘fit’ with you and your child? Do they understand that you come as a ‘package’?
  • Talk to them about your children so they know more about their personalities and how best to start to build a connection with them.
  • Start introducing the ‘idea’ of the new person to your children – begin slowly by talking about a ‘new friend’ building up to showing photos and in time asking how they might feel about meeting them.

Introducing Children to a New Partner

Your child will need time to adjust to someone new. How long will depend on their personality, age and their previous experiences of being around grown up relationships. Be patient and go at a pace they can cope with.

When the time comes to introduce them to each other it can help if;

  • You meet somewhere neutral – like the park, beach or cinema. Make the children the focus
  • Keep the first few times short.
  • You don’t expect too much – your child may ‘act out’ because they are anxious or worried. Try not to react. Keep calm yourself. Pre-warn your partner.
  • Your child may not want to meet your partner - that's ok. Go at their pace.

Build up contact slowly going at your child’s pace. Make sure you still have lots of time alone with your children. This is important for all of you and lets your child know that they are still your priority.

If your child continues to be unhappy about the relationship - it will be hard for you but it is important for them to share their feelings and be listened to. Let your child know that you love them and your new relationship does not change that. Give it time. If you are both patient, kind and consistent in your approach things will likely improve.

Keeping Safe in New Relationships

You may have had previous experiences of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. You may have some doubts or worries about your new relationship. People may ‘hint’ or tell you worrying things about your new partner’s past. It is important not to ignore this for your own safety, and your child’s safety.

Find out more about the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

If you are worried, you can get more information about your partner’s history from the Police using Clare’s Law.

Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team. 

Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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