Single Parents and the Economy: Tips on How to Help Each Other (and Stay Positive!)

Posted February 27, 2009 by

As single parents, we live in a  vulnerable environment. Under some circumstances, when an ex-spouse loses his/her job, it affects the other ex-spouse directly. “Emergency Funds” and reserves dry up twice as fast when one party has to pay child support or spousal support (or both.) With the loss of one income, we start feeling the heat.  So, what happens? The “Domino Effect” takes place: both sides of the single parent family suffer financial hardship. Bills get prioritized based on necessity. Parents live off of their credit cards to pay for gas and groceries.

These days, it seems that anxiety and emotions are at an all time high. Communication between struggling families is short and angry. That anger is often built on the shame, guilt and inability to provide what was once a stable environment for the children in a family with two parents who are no longer together. But I think this is when our children need us the most. Our children need to see the good in human beings through our actions. This is not the time to make parenting a lower priority because we are so stressed out — I think we need to put it right at the top of our list, for the very reason that many of us are so overwhelmed.

I believe we need to sit down and put pride aside and have open, honest and direct dialog with the mother/father of our children. If the money is not there, it’s time to be honest and create a workable solution. It’s time to support each other and pull together resources, if at all possible. Whether it is adjusting child care schedules or sharing meals in one household, the goal is simple: we need to create a workable solution to get back on our feet together and make a conscious effort to bring the co-parent family back to financial health.

I understand that it’s hard to stay positive these days. I look around and see and hear the economic news on TV and in the papers and it just makes me feel like giving up sometimes. But it’s important to remember that we can collectively do something about it if we put our minds together to work on the solution.

If anyone would like to share their ideas for how they are managing as a single parent, I would love to hear them. I believe one of the answers is that we need to come together, share ideas and support each other. This will help us, and most importantly, it will help our kids.


RJ Jaramillo is a single father of three and the founder of While facing the daily challenges of raising three children on his own after his divorce, RJ realized how few resources were available to help him during this journey. He started in 2007. RJ lives in Southern California with his family.

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  1. Judy Osborne (Edit) Report

    As a separated parent of 35 years, I treasure the effort to stay connected with my ex as we parented our kids and supported each other. I once turned to him for financial support when my second marriage ended. He was generous because he wanted to support the kids but also because of our shared history of working together. We’d come through his lose of a job when our kids were little and he remembered my help. Now our kids are married and we have grandchildren. We are kin forever. I’d love to hear stories at my blog Separated Parents Are Kin.

  2. leeinthegrove (Edit) Report

    As soon as society thinks it unacceptable for any parent to drop responsibility for a child we will see change. It makes me sad how easy it is for one person to change their mind or say oops and move on with it. This type of behaviour is accepted by their friends and family, that is the shame. These kids have a right to loving parents and a stress free home environment, lets face it that usually takes two. I am a successful no longer single mom of years. Those years were the most difficult of my life. I suffered and so did my children. We managed and I tried desperately to put some fun in there too. My heart goes out to all Moms and Dads out there struggling. Keep in mind you are doing a wonderful job, a job of two:)

  3. Fether (Edit) Report

    I am a single parent of one son who’s 9. I’ve been a single parent for nearly 7 years now , and previously helped raise his half sister untill she was 13 or so. Honestly I have to say being a single parent isn’t much differnt. I’ve been a stay at home mom for ages. We never had a lot of money then, and now that I’m single its not a lot different. The one thing I have noticed in my situation ..(everyones is diffrent ) Sometimes my son is more dominant than other boys his age , but he has an Alpha Personality anyway. But if another man speaks with him about a behaviour issue in a moderate but firm tone he changes his attitude fast .. even in the same room as a male figure he’s much more compliant.
    If his father is on my side about things that are going on at our house i notice a change but as soon as dad slacks off, its back to the drawing board.

  4. adoyle09 (Edit) Report

    Do you believe that divorce, or even being a single parent can affect your child emotionally? developmentally? Without that other role model, whether it be early on or later in life when the other becomes seperated. I often find that mothers or fathers who have to be “both a mom and a dad” find increased difficulty in behavior of children more so at older and teen years. Do you believe that this may be effected by the lack of a positive relationship between two parents?

  5. deb5693 (Edit) Report

    I’m a single mom with three kids 15, 13 & 9 years old. I recently discovered Angel Food Ministry which has cut my grocery bill by about 300.00 a month and I love the foods. Anyone can do it, go online and look it up. It’s a great deal.

  6. amber4679 (Edit) Report

    i am a single mother of a 12 year old son. i have been a broker for 6 years. So the market itself has put a lot of strain on my finances. As well as my sister (his aunt’s) murder. my sister was 29 which is my age now and had a daughter that was 3 (now 5) that we adopted, so the finances plus him not having just me anymore made him very angry. but what i always do is set something aside i know he really likes with just him and i. putt putt golf, or if you have no money a walk. and just really talk, most of all listen. my
    son is like me and lives to talk. so its not all about money, its about quality time. this is the first year i have had to say no we cant do that or i cant get this until(whenever) i get paid and he is ok wiht it. Don’t make a big deal about it. there kids and i say just let them be kids he also loves fishing so 1.59 for some bait is not so bad.or a game of cards. he also likes to help me cook now. being a single mother is not so bad. they learn to have a little more responsibility yes. but when they get older believe me that goes along way. give them a hug and dont ever forget maybe we go to a little extreme but say i love you at least once when not expected. (drop off from school or when they go to bed)just say it while your watching a movie together or he is doing his homework and your folding laundry………thanks, amber

  7. misslyn (Edit) Report

    I’m a single mom and I had to really sit down and look at why I wasn’t able to make it through the month without going broke. It was all the little things that we were getting like a coke every day and it added up. If I had the cash it was gone! I have made changes and all the bills are paid first, second we are builing an emergency fund so when something happens we can fix it. It is really hard but we are going to make it! I don’t make a lot and I don’t have a credit card or debit card( I’d forget to write it down). I sat my son down and showed him what was going on and he didn’t get angry which is a long way from where we were 6 months ago. Also get with friends and have a potluck lunch/dinner, it’s fun and has a variety of diffrent foods.
    thanks for being here



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