From Dr. Jane's Notebook
When one spouse travels, leaving the other as full-time parent, the result is Solo
Parenting... and the task is often great. In this usage, the word "great" should
not be confused with "wonderful", but rather, refers to "attempting large
challenges". In our society where business travel has become routine in many
families, "solo parenting" is a reality. As such, it helpful to consider some
- Solo Parenting is a Full-Time Job. Acting as both mother and father requires enormous
effort and coordination. This is especially true in families where tasks of parenting are
usually shared. From breakfast through bedtime, all responsibilities rest on the shoulders
of one parent, instead of two.
- Solo Parenting often requires unilateral decision-making. When the absent spouse is not
around for consultation, it is important that they respect your decisions. Being "in
charge" often requires "command decisions". Regardless of how these
decisions turn out, it is important to receive support for your leadership. When support
between parents is not given, all parental authority is undermined.
- Solo Parenting interferes with sleep. For many, the absence of their mate creates a
sense of having to "stay on guard". For this reason, solo parents often report
restless nights, and trouble falling asleep. There appears to be a need to keep a more
alert ear for trouble. This effort can take its toll, especially when its time to wake up
the next morning. As such, solo parents may need some extra time to rest and get
reorganized when their mate returns.
- When spouses return, they need to acknowledge the family's "extra" efforts.
Although the absent spouse may have been working hard, the family at home often feels like
they too, have been on "special duty" taking care of their homelife in their
parent's absence. For this effort, they need to feel appreciated. Its been a difficult
mission, and its now time for their routine to return to normal.
- Absent parents may have trouble feeling Included again. Sometimes families become used
to a parent's absence, especially if it is a frequent occurance. In this case, the absent
parent may feel more like an outsider, than a member of the family. The absent parent may
feel that the family has adjusted "too well", and no longer expects them to
participate. It is often difficult for families to shift gears. Upon return, it may be
helpful to hold a "family meeting" to bring everyone up-to-date and back
Solo parenting is on the rise, as more occupations require travel. In order to cope,
families may need different routines according to the number of parents that are in the
home. When one spouse is absent, the other may involve him/herself more fully with the
children. When the absent spouse returns, it may be difficult to re-establish the parental
partnership. Once again, parents must decide together how to handle this challenge.
ęCopyright, 1989, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated September 7, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon,