Single parenting in Nigeria: Challenges and how to manage

lead image

Kudos to all single Nigerian parents!

Remember when single parenting in Nigeria carried a stigma? Well, it’s good we’ve moved a little bit past that point. Most people have grudgingly come to accept single parents as humans who either chose to single-handedly take up the responsibilities of raising and grooming a child (children) or had no other option other than this. Single parents should be applauded for putting their children’s needs first. It isn’t easy at all! But surely there are challenges of single parenting.

In Nigeria, about thirty-five in every one hundred kids have single parents. Numbers don’t lie, so it’s safe to assume that single parenting is on the rise. Of course, children of single parents are thriving! We should applaud their parents, don’t you think?

challenges of single parenting

Why is there a rise in the number of single parent households in Nigeria?

Throwback to a couple years ago, there weren’t nearly as many single parents as there are right now. Young people who still live at home with their parents are becoming parents themselves. This kind of arrangement was rare just a few short years ago.

But there are a few reasons we can highlight.

1. Death, separation & divorce

Historically, death was the leading reason for single parenthood, closely followed by divorce or separation of the parents. This shifted the custody and upbringing of a child to one parent, which was usually the child’s mother.

2. People are having children before marriage

Having a child outside wedlock is not as rare as it used to be. Some people are very deliberate about having children with or without marriage. Men and women are even paying big bucks to employ the services of surrogates, which is totally fine!  The important thing is that they are ready to support the kids, as raising children can be very expensive. What with the skyrocketing prices of baby food, diapers and school fees, one has to think long and hard about the decision to have children. Let’s not even talk of medical care because that alone can deplete your life’s savings.

3. Adoption

Not everyone fancies the idea of getting married or going through pregnancy. For people like this, adoption seems like the best bet for starting a family. Adoption has become very popular in Nigeria. Adoption isn’t without its hassles, but a lot of people are turning to it. 

To be honest, raising kids as a single parent isn’t always so easy. The challenges of single parenting are many. Let's find out what the most common of these are.   

Challenges of single parenting

The challenges of single parenting in Nigeria differ from individual to individual. Here are the most common challenges.

1. Single parenting and loneliness

This may result from the loss of a partner through death or divorce. It can also be true for single parents who adopted kids. An individual raising a child would always need someone to vent to about the child’s academics, health, extra-curricular activities, and even childcare in general. It’s often easier to discuss this with someone who cares about your child the same way you do.

2. Saying "no" might not be that easy

Instilling disciple in the child may be another challenge especially if the single parent feels guilty about being the only parental figure in the child’s life. A stubborn, recalcitrant child may want to take advantage of this soft side and bring difficulty to the parent. If this child turns out bad, society might blame the parent for either not sticking with her partner in order to raise the child well. It’s a vicious cycle.

3. Guilt

Guilt could also be a challenge especially if there was a divorce or separation of some sort. A single parent may sometime wonder if staying in the failed marriage/relationship would have been better for the child. This can sometimes lead to low self-esteem, especially with the way people see single parents in Nigeria as either wayward or incompetent.

challenges of single parenting

4. Economic Challenges

The issue of financial burden cannot be over-emphasized. Childcare is expensive. Think of footing all the bills, going to work and also maintaining a normal social life. You should probably get used to making budgets. You’ll need to prioritize your spending.

Tips for Nigerian single parents to overcome the challenges of single parenting

Are you a single parent? Here are some workable tips that might just ease the stress from your shoulders.

Enforce routines

Create routines for your kids and this helps to reinforce discipline. It is important that you create routines and schedules for your kids. If they know when to sleep, wake up, do homework, watch cartoons, visits neighbors and all, it will be easier for you. Also in order to reduce the work load on yourself, you should teach the kids some light chores. Everyone will benefit from this.

Teach good manners

Teach your children good manners and how to show gratitude; society attributes bad behavior and bad manners to poor upbringing. Things could potentially get even worse if people know you've divorced due to the effects of social stigma. So, in order to avoid snide remarks, teach your child these manners. It’s your child, your responsibility!

Don’t be afraid to ask for support

Ask your friends and family for support. You’re a single parent doesn’t mean the world has come to an end, neither does it mean you have stop reaching out to people who can help lighten the load. Make friends. Attend PTA meetings. You’re sure to find other single parents like you and bond over your shared single parenting reality.

challenges of single parenting

Make time for your kids

Find time to play with your kids. Have long conversations with them. Go on vacations if you can afford it. Load up on love and praises for your child. Appreciate good performance in school. Buy them gifts. Stay positive, but don’t forget to take care of yourself while you’re at it.

Most of the time, we just have to close our eyes to people's idea of perfection, be it in marriage, child upbringing and everything else.

You can succeed at single parenting and overcome all challenges of single parenting!

Also Read: Free-range parenting: A comprehensive guide for parents

Written by

Julie Adeboye