Solo Parenthood: Why We Find What We Look For

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Society

Solo parenthood is often portrayed as a journey filled with challenges and difficulties. Many of my coaching clients worry that parenting solo will be much harder and less rewarding than parenting with a romantic partner. This belief can become self-fulfilling. Often, our mindset shapes our experiences, and if we expect solo parenthood to be worse, we will inevitably find evidence to support that belief. Conversely, adjusting our perspective can reveal the unique joys that solo parenthood can offer.

The Power of Expectation and Perception

Our brains are wired to seek out information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs. A cognitive bias known as Confirmation Bias. If we view solo parenthood as more challenging or less fulfilling than parenting with a partner, our minds naturally gravitate toward experiences and evidence that validate this belief.

For instance, every sleepless night, missed milestone, or moment of loneliness or overwhelm might be attributed to the lack of a co-parent. These challenges are real.  Our interpretation of them being as a direct result of solo parenting is heavily influenced by our beliefs and expectations.

The Origins of Our Beliefs

Our upbringing, cultural norms, personal experiences, and the media we consume shape our beliefs about the world and our place in it. From a young age, we absorb messages about what constitutes a “normal” or “ideal” family structure, often influenced by societal standards that glorify two-parent households. Recognising the origins of our beliefs is the first step in challenging and reshaping them. By becoming aware of the origins of our beliefs, we can start to question their validity and consider alternative perspectives.

Shifting the Narrative

We have the power to change this narrative. By consciously seeking out and focusing on positive experiences and benefits, solo parents can create a more balanced and fulfilling perception of their journey.

Practicing Positive Reframing

Positive reframing involves shifting the way we perceive and respond to events. Instead of viewing solo parenthood solely through the lens of struggle, we can reframe our experiences to highlight resilience, independence, and unique bonding opportunities with our children.

For example, the absence of a co-parent means we only have to focus on one relationship, not that of a partner. It might mean more one-on-one time with our child, leading to a stronger, more intimate relationship with them. Solo parents might also develop greater independence and problem-solving skills, valuable traits that can be modelled for our children. We can choose how to parent, build deep connections with a wide community of people, and decide exactly how to spend our time. Paying conscious attention to these positive elements of solo parenting can help reframe our experiences.

Seeking Out Positive Role Models

Another effective strategy is to seek out positive role models and communities of other solo parents who are thriving. Engaging with these communities can provide support, share strategies, and offer a sense of belonging. It helps to see that many solo parents lead happy, balanced lives. It can also be reassuring to see that their children grow up to be well-adjusted and successful.

Emphasising Strengths and Accomplishments

Solo parents can benefit from regularly reflecting on our strengths and accomplishments. Keeping a journal of daily wins, no matter how small, can help shift our focus from what’s lacking to what’s being achieved. Celebrating these victories builds confidence and reinforces a positive self-image. Noticing when your mind wanders to thinking that things would be better in a partnership and reframing these thoughts is the first step.

Conclusion

Solo parenthood is a challenging but rewarding journey. This post is not to take away from the fact that there are elements of solo parenting that can be tough. It’s to highlight that our beliefs and expectations play a significant role in shaping our experiences. By understanding and counteracting cognitive biases like confirmation bias, solo parents can adopt a more positive and empowering narrative.

By practicing positive reframing, seeking out supportive communities, and celebrating our strengths, we can find the joy and fulfilment that comes with raising our children. Ultimately, we find what we look for, and by looking for the positives, we can discover the unique joy of our journey.

Support

If you’d like support to decide whether Solo Parenthood is the right path for you, or to reframe thinking about solo parenthood, I offer 121 and Group Coaching on this topic at The Stork and I.

 

 

 

Photo by Steven Wright on Unsplash

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