Her Choice to Parent
Parenting is both challenging and rewarding. Whether a woman is choosing to parent as a single parent or as a couple, there are many ways that she can prepare to be a good parent. Whether she has had parents that were excellent role models or parents that she does not want to imitate, she can begin making choices now to ensure a healthy, loving, and secure future for her baby.
Types of Parenting
The choice of parenting is accompanied by a variety of options. Different responsibilities and challenges are associated with each parenting option. Regardless of the parenting option a woman may choose, local resources are available and can be extremely helpful to new parents. Check out the Community Resources section for more information.
Questions to Consider: How long have we been dating? How well do we know each other? Have we already discussed marriage prior to finding out about this pregnancy? How strong is this relationship? Is marriage the best choice for the baby and for our relationship?
The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) reports compelling facts about the effects of family structure on the well-being of children.1 Here are some of the findings:
While many couples may resist the idea of marrying for “the sake of the baby,” being raised by married parents can be very beneficial for the child, as well as for the parents! Married people tend to save more money, are financially better off, and report higher levels of emotional and physical satisfaction with their sex lives than unmarried couples do.
Joint Parenting or Joint Custody:
This parenting option often has two people committed to meeting the needs of the child, but it comes with additional challenges such as schedules, commuting, and communicating consistently.
When a woman chooses this parenting option, open communication and interaction with the baby’s father about his role is important. The issues most often needing to be well defined are: visitation, providing financial support, and helping out with care of their child.She may have a partner [or ex-partner] that will not participate in any manner. In most cases, child support is still expected and lawfully required. She might find it helpful to review the Questions to Consider section to prepare for the future.
Single parenting can be a challenging option because it means meeting most of the parenting responsibilities herself. In contrast, for some women, meeting the responsibilities and challenges of single parenting can actually motivate her to be more focused in her life-goals and in establishing a healthy home life for herself and her child.
Friends and family usually become her best support. If a woman does not have a strong support system already, it is possible through various organizations, classes, or mother/baby groups to build relationships with others who can lend a helping hand. She shouldn’t hesitate to look to others for help and support.
Check out the Community Resources for ideas.
The Whatcom County Pregnancy Clinic has a program to assist women in preparing for parenting and developing parenting skills. Parent Program
1 Parke, Mary. (May 2003). Are Married Parents Really Better for Children? What Research Says about the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-Being, Center for Law and Social Policy. Available at www.clasp.org.