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Single Parent Raising a Teen

By Klaus Klein MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor

One thing that comes up is how single parents can become the target
of a teen son or daughter's anger and resentment.

This can create an experience of being in some really tough times.

I've seen where the parent who is taking most of the responsibility
for raising the teen son or daughter get dumped on with all manner
of resentment and anger.

And the other part-time parent is the 'wonderful parent'.

This is a very exhausting situation to be in as a single parent to maintain
your integrity, values, and caring.

What happens if there is little to no parenting support from the other

  • Exhaustion
  • Resentment
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Etc.

Sometimes teens can copy the negative attitude of the other parent towards you as well. This is very unfortunate and is mostly about personal unresolved issues getting in the way of co-parenting.

This can really leave you alone as a single parent.

Teens can become disrespectful and blame everything on you.

It certainly isn't fair.

Here is something to remember.

The parent who is taking most of the parenting responsibility will many
times also get more of the targeted anger.

One would think that the parent who is taking most of the responsibility
would be appreciated, right?

Not so during the teen years.

You see, the parent who has been doing most of the parenting and disciplining has also established something very important.

That important factor is 'trust'.

The kind of 'trust' from a teen I'm referring to is:

  • Trust that you will be there for me (teen) at my worst
  • Trust that you can handle my sadness, hurt, resentment, anger, etc.
  • Trust that you won't run away/abandon me if I treat you badly
  • Trust that you will be there for me when no one else will

This doesn't excuse bad behaviour or that you should tolerate abuse.

Teens do need to experience the consequences of their behaviour.
Sometimes that even means taking a break from living together.

But even in more extreme cases I've seen an attachment with a parent that is deep and meaningful.

Although on the surface it can seem absolutely brutal at times.

You see, with the 'Good Time Parent' a teen will be nice because of the
fear of losing that parent if the teen ever behaved badly.

The relationship is felt and experienced as being more fragile.

In other words less of a solid attachment and less trust.

With the full-time parent the teen will let loose all the nasty negative feelings
because it is safer with that parent.

In other words stronger attachment, more trust, less fear of losing that parent.

Along with some absolutely brutal teen attitude at times.

Now I've also known separated parents who co-parent very well.

They actually rely, respect, and are supportive of each other as adults when raising their teen son or daughter.

This can make a big difference in managing the attitude of a teen towards one parent or the other.

But for those that do not have that support raising a teen as a single parent can be very challenging.

There are so many different kinds of single parenting situations and circumstances.

However, taking care of yourself as a single parent is crucial to maintaining
your integrity, values, and caring.

Get support for :

  • Appropriate parent - teen boundaries
  • What is acceptable behaviour and what is not
  • Realistic expectations
  • Processing any feelings such as hurt, fear, frustration, etc.
  • Looking at perceptions of yourself as a parent and of your teen
  • Questioning yourself as a parent
  • What is it you really stand for with your integrity

There are no quick and easy answers to being a single parent raising a teen.

Even though knowing there is the attachment and trust in you behind the brutal attitude that can come out — there are still boundaries that you have to stand by and teens need to be held accountable for their actions.

You are the front line with your teen and it can get emotionally messy at times. 

In that brutal messiness, they'll need you to be clear, grounded, and solid with
yourself in order to handle the tough times that come your way, and the decisions you have to make especially as a single parent.


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Klaus Klein, MA, RCC
Phone: 604-786-0709

KDK Counselling services for the Burnaby area.

Klaus Klein - Parent and Teen Counsellor

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