Since 1950, the number of one-parent families has increased substantially. Separation and divorce are high on the list of adult life traumas. Add to them shared custody and you’re dealing with a multitude of conflicted feelings especially when the children are still young. Money problems may become issues where they were never issues before. Working parents are no longer able to rely on the spouse to fill in if they have to work late. The single mom or dad needs to adjust to coming home to an empty apartment on those nights when the children are with the other parent. Also, the responsibility of raising a child without the support of the other parent in the home can be daunting. The parent with whom the child lives may find it difficult to begin to date due to the responsibilities of child care and feel the aloneness of being a divorced spouse. Those who can afford it often have help or enter the children in after school programs due to the demands of their professional life.

A 35 year old divorced mother with two children ages 7 and 9 was extremely torn between a promising legal career, a desire to begin dating, and parenting responsibilities. She felt that her ex husband had it easy as he only had the children every other weekend and one night during the week. While a devoted mom, she wanted more time for herself. In addition, having relocated here from the Midwest she did not have the support of other family members to help her. This loneliness is not uncommon for people living in New York, as is the expense of raising children here, even if the family has a lot of money. Entering a separation and divorce group with other single parents helped her to share her concerns and not feel so alone. For the first time she could talk about the ex husband having had an affair and the shame and rage she felt about his betrayal. Other single parents in the group were able to empathize with her and to give her the support she needed.

Dianne Heller Kaminsky, LCSW, BCD

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