There are many disadvantages to single parenting, but they all can almost be summed up into this one big disadvantage of single parenting: lack of adequate support systems. The simple truth is that raising a child does indeed take a village; a village of parents, grandparents, relatives, neighbors, daycare workers, medical professionals, teachers, and social workers. Without the necessary support systems to raise a child, those families suffer and subsequently, so do the children.
Most people would think the biggest disadvantage of single parenting is money. Many of the social programs that the U.S. government has are aimed to increase monies to single parents either through workfare programs or educational grants. They believe that money will buy all these resources and then you don’t have to worry about being a single parent. That’s not the case.
The money will buy resources but they must be available to buy and at an affordable price in the first place. They must also be managed and overseen, a process that takes incredible amounts of time with poor support systems requiring more effort. The community you live in will determine what support systems you have available as a single parent. For instance, if all there is a high demand for daycare then a single parent may be squeezed into having to work a job that only barely covers the outrageous cost of childcare, leaving little for the welfare of the child. Gathering good support systems tends to offset any other disadvantage of single parenting.
When you are married, you have two people to locate the resources and manage them for your child. You also have two incomes. You often have duplicate family and community support systems. One can generally act as a backup if the other fails. However, without that extra backup, the life of a single parent is a constant juggling act that often ends up with a few dishes smashed on the floor and looms large as the biggest disadvantage of single parenting.
A single parent may be able to juggle all when things are going well, but when a child falls sick or begins to struggle in school, it becomes evident that the child needs the resources of the community that must be located, paid for, and managed. They will be forced to put on two hats if no one is available to chauffer the child to the needed support systems, oversee the intended care, manage the finances for those systems, while usually trying to maintain a 40 hour a week job. It can quickly become exhausting and this is why many children of single parent households score lower on assessments of health, education, and behavioral problems. These children do not have the same support systems that a married family has built-in.
Thus, the biggest disadvantage of single parenting is the need for adequate support systems to be available, of good quality, and at low-cost. But, the single parent also needs more time to manage these support systems or may be the only choice. If a child is having trouble in school, they need an advocate for them and that usually is a parent. Some of these roles, you can’t hire out to others, like daycare. If a family support system is missing too, the ability to obtain emergency backup in times of illness is non-existent. Should the parent fall ill, it becomes an impossible situation that even money won’t relieve.
As a society, we need to start addressing some of the issues of poor quality or high-cost support systems for raising our children. As the demographics continue to shift, we need to step up to the plate and start designing communities with robust support systems to raise the next generation.