More than 20 million children in the United States live with only one parent, according to KidsHealth.org. Whether your single-parent home is the result of divorce, death or another cause, it can be challenging to take charge of raising your child by yourself, and your schedule might make you concerned with your child’s ability to develop socially. However, no evidence shows that social development is hindered in a single-parent home -- as long as you take care to spend time with your child and encourage his friendships elsewhere.
Infants rely on bonding and response to their needs in order to develop cognitively and socially. In a two-parent household, it is easier for one parent to respond to the baby’s needs when the other is unavailable, but in a single-parent home, it can make bonding more difficult. As your child grows, you might find that you don't have enough time to spend with her, especially if you spend your days working and still have chores to tend to at home. Without a lot of interaction elsewhere, this could hinder your child’s social development.
Encouraging Social Development
You can encourage your child’s social development by getting him involved in an after-school program or extracurricular activity. In summer, you can find friends or family members for her to spend his days with if you are working. Aside from helping him to establish social connections, spend as much time with your child as possible so he has social interaction at home. However, KidsHealth.org recommends against spending all of your free time together. You child's other relationships need to have room to form and grow.
Living in a single-parent home isn’t completely negative in terms of social development. Children in single-parent homes often experience a strengthened relationship with other family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, according to HealthyChildren.org. Additionally, living with only one parent can help your child experience a bit more independence than her peers from two-parent households. The independence and confidence she gains on her own are important when it comes to navigating social connections.
If your child is having trouble developing socially, it could be related to a health or development issue that is unrelated to being you being a single parent. Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns. The doctor might be able to help you pinpoint the issue or refer you to an adolescent counselor who can help your child.