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Handling the challenges of being a solo-parenting married mom

We hear all about single moms, but what about moms who parent solo and are married? Here are their specific challenges and how to handle them.


Being a married mom means that you have someone to help you make the important decisions, trade off responsibilities with and help you manage the family’s activities and schedules. Right? Um, no, not always.

For some married moms (and dads!), having a spouse that works long hours — or travels a lot — means that one parent does the primary parenting.

“In my experience, parenting is difficult enough when parents serve as partners to one another, and are on the same page as far as important parenting issues are concerned. Take the father away virtually altogether, and the difficulty of parenting as a married, but solo, parent-mom is compounded quite a bit,” says Dr. John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens.

Being a solo-parenting married mom has its own specific and frustrating challenges. Here’s how to deal with them.

1 Challenge: Resentment

It’s not uncommon, for moms in this situation to feel themselves separated from their spouse — and resentful about it. “Moms have shared with me that they often feel a deep sense of resentment and solitude. Many of them have described dads as the ‘weekend’ type of parent who is involved in the fun part of parenting but rarely in the day-to-day work of it: helping with homework, assisting in decision-making, carpooling, and so on,” says Duffy.

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So, what should you do? “If you choose to not change the situation (e.g., stay in the marriage), then you must move to acceptance. This will stop the resentment, anger and bitterness that are toxic to you, your children, your marriage and your productivity,” says Dr. Elizabeth R. Lombardo, a psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.

2 Challenge: No physical help

Ramona, a mom of three, whose husband works while she stays home with her kids, says that her husband is children-inexperienced and also works a lot. “The biggest frustration is when the kids ask where their daddy, is and I’m always left with giving them the same answer — he’s working. I don’t mind caring for our children but a break from our children keeps the sanity,” she says.

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So, what should you do if you have no physical help? “If your mother asks to help out, say yes. Hire someone to clean your house (even if just once/month) if you can. And if people aren’t offering to help you, look for ways to get some help,” says Lombardo.

3 Challenge: Feeling overwhelmed

What about when it feels like it’s all too much? Celina Fabrizio, a media relations specialist whose husband works and lives in a different state, says that it’s not easy being the solo parent. “The most frustrating part is just doing it all by myself. And don’t even get me started when the kids are sick. It means I can’t go to the grocery, go workout, etc.,” says Fabrizio.

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“Planning ahead can help reduce stress and increase productivity. Do as much as you can the night before a school/work day, including packing lunches and getting clothes ready,” says Lombardo. Also, don’t be afraid to delegate. “Assign age-appropriate tasks for your children, such as making their beds or folding laundry.”

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