Single Parenting vs. Solo Parenting

In my opinion, there are two basic types of partner-less parents.  Single parents, and solo parents.  I’ve been both, sort of, and I can tell you that there are good things and bad things about each situation.

Single parents are probably more common.  A single parent raises their child or children without a partner, but the child’s other biological parent is still in their lives and takes him or her for visitation.

The good things about being a single parent are first and foremost that you get a break once in awhile.  Parenting on your own can be brutally exhausting and it is really nice to actually sleep in and be allowed out of your house after your kids’ bedtime and run errands without a child in tow.  And, of course, it’s beneficial to the child to have both parents involved in his or her life to the fullest extent possible, barring certain circumstances where a parent is deemed unfit.

On the other hand, being a single parent means that you still have to interact with your ex, which can be difficult, especially at first.  Minimizing tension for the sake of your child is so important, but depending on what went on before your separation, it’s no fun for anyone.  (If you read this blog regularly, you know that Tyler and I have struggled with this in the past.)  It’s tough to make that shift from couple to coparent, and we all have varying degrees of success at it.

Solo parents do all of the parenting completely on their own.  Their child’s other biological parent is not in the picture at all, for whatever reason.

It sounds overwhelming, but there are some good things about being a solo parent.  You don’t have to consult anyone else on your parenting decisions.  You don’t have to deal with your ex or your ex’s significant other or anyone, really.  You don’t have to depend on anyone else’s schedule.  You don’t have to get stressed out over canceled visits and whether or not you think your ex is taking enough visitation, or whatever.  You can just do what you want and what you think is best for your child.

Then again, of course, there are no breaks.  None.  And you have to be mom and dad, which sucks because, let’s face it, it’s hard enough to just be one or the other.

Due to Tyler’s periodic extended absences from Caroline’s life, I guess I can say I’ve been both, and I definitely prefer being a single parent to being a solo parent.  I need those breaks that I get when he takes his visitation.  And it’s better for her if he is around.  It definitely makes for an adjustment period when he comes back into the picture (and we are entering this phase now that he is back from North Dakota), but once we’ve all worked through that, I know it will be easier on everyone overall.

Which type of partner-less parent are you– single or solo?  What do you like about the type of single parent you are?

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  1. by laci

    On September 12, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I think that a solo parent can get breaks but it will have to be with your side of the family. aunts, uncles, gradparents, someone who can get the kid on the weekend or when you have the flu. it doesn’t have to be the child’s father, just someone that is willing to help you out. every mom (married, single, solo) needs “me time” or you’ll lose it!

  2. by jennifer

    On September 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    actually I’m both. I have an 13 yr old son from a previous relationship that his dad is involved and though in the beginning it was hard to be w/o him I enjoyed my every other weekend breaks but the drama I could live w/o. Now I have a 5 month old that the father isn’t involved and even though I don’t get a break I don’t have to deal w/ the drama and can parent the way I want to but I have to say the my 13 yr old does help me a lot :)

  3. by brandi

    On September 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Solo parent here. It’s heartbreaking because I want her to have her father around. It’s stressful because I’m always with a 2 yr old. No chance to spend time with my girlfriends to unwind..I see them..and their kids. I love my little girl and because it is so hard, I just work harder and show her anything can happen if you work for it!

  4. by Elizabeth

    On September 12, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I am a solo parent of a little girl with autism. Yes, it’s hard, but it also means her bond with me is that much stronger because I am the only parent. It’s also a lot more convenient legally as I don’t need anyone else permission to take her out of the country.

  5. by SingleMama

    On September 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I am a SOLO MOM! Given HJ’s father, I am glad I am a solo mom, but I do wish I was a Single Mom so my son would have both a mom and a dad.

  6. by Cat

    On September 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I am a single parent. His father has visitation every other weekend and also two days a week and I sooo look forward to that alone weekend to rest catch up on work and rest chores etc.

    The relationship with me and the father is not a amicable one but he still has a father in his life that he spends time with and that is very important to me.

  7. by May (Amy)

    On September 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I can say that I have been in both positions. At one point in my son’s life, his Dad was not in his life at all. Now he is though. I’d like to say I am a single mother because I pretty much have my son 100% of the time. I cook, clean, read to him, all that good stuff. It was very difficult in the beginning but now that his dad takes him sometimes, it gives me a break. What I like about being the single parent that I am is that I know I can do it. And I do it for my son, just not for myself. Don’t get me wrong, being a single parent is hard as heck but it gets easier once you have family and friends there to give you a helping hand. I still find it hard to juggle some things but in time, things will fall in place.

  8. by bobby's mom

    On November 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

    How sad that I am a solo parent and still in a relationship. I get no time to myself, I work full-time, take care of all the bills, the house the car the kids and the darned cat!! I miss my friends and I hardly ever get a break to go to the restroom. I wish the father gene would kick in!!

  9. by Stacey

    On November 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Solo Mom & wouldn’t have it any other way. I have no local family but do have an awesome babysitter/nanny who gives me the much needed breaks about once a month. I call it a “me” date since I have no interest in finding a partner for now. My son & I are a family & are COMPLETE the way we are. We take life on life’s terms. My son’s sperm donor has never been a part of our life, but I have managed to buy a home, work full time, & am currently working on getting my associate’s degree & planning for my bachelor’s program. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it – that is what I am teaching my son. He is a happy, well-rounded child whom is also a perfect little gentleman….thanks for reading.

  10. by Pam

    On November 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I’m a solo parent. My son’s father calls ALMOST once a week but we haven’t seen him in over a year and he has no desire to have visits. I live 3500 miles from my family so I’m completely alone on this one. I’m fine with that now. In the beginning it was so overwhelming that I’d find myself in tears more often than I’d like to admit. Now my son is 3 and we have a great relationship and I do my best to be the parent, not just his friend. Sometimes I wish I had a break though, especially when the flu strikes!

  11. by erid

    On November 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I’m a solo dad. I have been since my daughter was 9 no. Old. At 2 yo. She was diagnosed with a one in a million blood disorder. Shes been in and out of the hospital for the last 3 years. In the hospital for months on end. Its tough not having someone to lean on for support. I lost my job, my house, my car. My life was put on hold. There’s not a lot of help for dads. Every time I would try to get assistance financially the door was slammed in my face. They would tell me if I was a mom they could help me but I wasn’ t. I now have a car and I work a little but its been a hard road. I love being a dad and can’t imagine why any dad would just leave there child without concern. Or mom for that matter. My ex is to interested in getting high and what she can get for herself. Heard she recently moved to Oregon or something. My hope is to never get any updates obser where she is or is doing.

  12. by Michelle

    On November 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    When I first read the title of this post, I thought “solo parenting” would refer to being married but having a spouse who’s totally unengaged in parenting. That’s where I am. It’s like single parenting but without the upside of visitation breaks. Sigh …

  13. by Deb

    On November 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Well how about this one: solo but the other parent is living with us. I’ married and a mother of a 1 and a half year old girl. I never get a break only when she naps. My husband doesn’t do anything to make life easier for me. He does nothing with our daughter and when I ask he gets mad. It’s really hard for me especially because I’m still dealing with this. Divorce? Well it’s not really an option. Even when I ask him to stay with her for a little while I go grocery shopping, I come home and she’s not fed or changed. Ugh!

  14. by Em

    On November 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I kinda fall between the cracks on this one… I have an awesome husband who is a wonderful father to our 14mo old and my 16 year old (from a previous marriage) but he is a firefighter and he is gone 4-5 days a week, oftentimes more in the summer. I was a single parent to my older daughter from day 1, even though her father lived with me, he had ZERO involvement. When I left him, he decided to fight for custody, and since I moved to the opposite coast, he got to have her for all the holidays. Having a teen and a toy is an incredible challenge (and blessing), but my husband can only offer so much support over the phone.

  15. by alex

    On November 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    i am the solo parent for now (i think) my ex always “tried” to be a parent when he was around other people but when there was no one else around he could really care less. he was always dropping our daughter off at his mothers so he could go party when i was working, i didnt like the way he treated our daughter at all & as it became clear he wasnt going to change i left him & a week later he went to jail for 4 months. hes out now & in a halfway house & i have no idea if he will want to have visits with her(he says he does)but i have no idea how he will act since the “wake up call” of being in jail or if it was really a wake up call at all.

  16. by Jamie

    On November 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’m a single parent, and wish I was a solo parent. Not saying it’s for everyone or that I think it’s a peice of cake, just that in my situation, it is a huge stress on my child and me to have the other parent in the picture. I am not able to enjoy my “days off” because I’m stressing about whether my daughter is OK, whether she’s being left with the girlfriend of the month, whether he’s mistreating her, neglecting her, teaching her swear words, etc. I hate that feeling. I would rather be solo, and be able to raise her with the values I want to instill in her, without critism or snide comments.

  17. by Tracy

    On November 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I am a single parent in a marriage with a man that does nothing to help… OH, and I am a step- single parent as well to his daughter… While he gets to do nothing, and his ex gets her breaks every other weekend and every other week in the summer…. I LOVE MY LIFE!!! ((( NOT )))))

  18. by CHAR

    On November 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I DO NOT AGREE with this statement that the law has made. (That no matter how much the father wants to be in the childs life its better for them)- Saying that even if the father spends 2% of his time making an effort to see his child its still better on the kid? I believe that if the father isn’t 100 percent making full effort to be in his childs life than he is nothing but a pest and nusence and its more harmful on the child to not know when their father will show up or want to spend time with them. If the fathers give a sh*t factor is half the time than there is no reason they should be a part of the childs life anyways. I say this because what if one day the father is watching the child by himself and his give a sh*t factor is only 50 percent and somthing bad happens that could of been avoided. ITS CALLED NEGLECT AND I SEE NEGLECT AS A FATHER ONLY WANTING TO SPEND TIME WITH HIS KIDS A SMALL PORTION OF THE TIME, NOT WHEN ITS CONVEINIENT OR “LOOKS GOOD”

  19. by Mi

    On November 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    oh man, i’m glad i read this, well the postings actually. i am a soon to be mother and have pretty much become one with the fact i will be a solo parent. the father, when i first told him-was totally negative and thought he was gonna get to turn mean on me-wrong! put a stop to that and kicked him out as i was determined that NO NEGATIVITY would be allowed in this experience. then after he gets some validation from family, he comes back to “try again” and this time cheats, lies and i find he’s on drugs to boot! So out he goes again. It’s been ongoing, because deep down i wanted him in this child’s life and mine, but knew what his m.o. was, act like a jerk to me until the baby’s born then pretend he’s model dad. i say pretend, because in the end he will be like he is with his other kids he never sees, but tells everyone he does to make himself look good. so before now, i though maybe i was being unfair and second-guessing my decision to keep this harmful person out of our lives, maybe i should ease up? Now, i KNOW i’m doing what’s best for my child-so a big Thank You to everyone who posted their experiences and insight! I think you have saved me even more wasted time and affirmed my fears and what i already knew. THANK YOU!! you all are invaluable and your children are so lucky to have you in their lives, so blessed :) take care of yourselves!

  20. by Teresa

    On November 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I am both, I have two girls from a previous marriage and a 14 month old daughter as well. I not really sure either one is really easier than the other. My oldest twos dad is around but the time he spends with them is more less seen as an obligation so he dont have to pay support. They go over there but he is to occupied with himself and girlfriend. They get to do stuff if it is something he or his girlfriend wants to do. Other than that they just sit around. while it is suppose to be a break I generally am on the phone with them the majority of the visit. So they might not be here but i am still tending to them. It gets really hard sometimes dealing with the conflicts at both places and sometimes seems unfair. But what do you do. And my youngest ones dad wont be around for awhile, so i have her all the time. I was married for eleven years and devotated all my time to family and work now i dont have friends. Most of my family is out of town and the few people that are around have their own lives to deal with. I am depressed alot but wake up each day. Neither one is easy but we do what we have to as parents. Good Luck To All!

  21. by Heather

    On November 14, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    I second what “erid” says. I can totally relate, but on the mother side. Although, even a long road with lots of challenges, I was able to get a little help. You just cannot give up…you have to keep trying. That’s what everyone told me and I did it. Now I’m finally in a comfortable spot with my 2 yr old son. I never thought I’d get here. I am so blessed.

  22. by Geria Wright

    On November 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I read many of the commentaries and I DO NOT SIT IN JUDGEMENT OF ANY, however did any of these ladies REALLY consider the child(ren) in choosing this alternative lifestyle? Even if you did not choose, in the case of the woman who discovered she was pregnant on the eve of a divorce, that is not an excuse? What about reconciliation for the sake of the child and in cases where there is claims of an abusive husband; the woman would know that during courtship, so that too is no excuse? I do not understand, what seems to be, extreme selfishness and children are forced into an family arrangement they did not choose? In a world were abortion is a legal means to murder; women work outside the home and children are left to be raised by school administrators; and now there is this solo vs. single parenting that is the new rave? As a married/homeschooling/stay-at-home Christian mom my husband and I have struggled to maintain a healthy and happy home for our 4 year old son…IT TRULY HAS NOT BEEN EASY! Again, I am not passing judgement only giving my perspective…children are not as resilient as we may think and we as women need to keep that in mind.

  23. by Julia

    On November 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Hmmm, Geria, sounds like judgment to me. Perhaps we left our husbands because they were behaving like enormous douches and we had too much respect for ourselves and our children to sit around and put up with it. Responsibility for children’s “fragility” lies with the father as well, you know, not just us women, and some men are not capable of parenting…

  24. by Solo Trooper

    On November 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I was engaged to my sons father but after he made several life altering changes in his life I decided we couldn’t be together. Unfortunately this made him decide not to be with our son either. Considering his current lifestyle my 2 year old son is much better off without him. This means no breaks, not even my family takes him and every so often I do get a couple hours to myself. It wasn’t my plan for my son but such is life. I appreciate the new title solo mother as it better describes our situation. My son is absolutely amazing and I feel blessed every day he wakes me up and says I wub u mommy. He must give me a thousand hugs n kisses a day n I wouldn’t trade that for anything, not even my free time.

  25. by Tia

    On November 16, 2011 at 2:03 am

    Unfortunately, circumstances have currently left me solo parenting our two children. Also unfortunately, it’s very rare to get a break since it’s extremely difficult to get someone to babysit (since most people I know either have big families of their own, are very busy, or live too far away), I have no child care and was laid off from my job early this year. On the upside, my two girls (one 2yrs and one 2months) are a wonderful blessing and I believe that somehow things are going to work out okay.

  26. by Lisa

    On November 16, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I’m a solo parent and I LOVE IT! I rarely need “breaks” from my daughter. I didn’t have one until she was almost 2. A family member offered to take her for a few hours after I had a minor surgery. I know if I really wanted, I could let her spend time with certain family members. I enjoy being solo for all the reasons mentioned… I don’t have to worry about the “bad” parts and depending on someone else. I have a friend who jokes that I’m lucky that I don’t have to deal with in-laws like she does.

  27. by Cheap Small Freezers

    On February 25, 2013 at 3:41 am

    I am really impressed with your writing skills {and