Parenting is always a challenge. Parenting as a single person, having a disability, or if you are much older or younger than most parents can give you some extra challenges. But lots of people do it, and so can you. The key is to get the help and support you need. This page provides some ideas.
THINGS YOU CAN DO
For Single Parents
- If you are stressed, ask for help. Call a friend or relative for support.
- If you are new to parenting, take a parenting class.
- Share child care with other parents.
- Join or start a play group where you can visit with other parents while your children play together.
- Join a support group for single parents. Visit Parents Without Partners.
Parents Who Live Apart
- During a break-up, spend as much time with your children as you can and give them lots of love. Let them know that the break-up is not their fault.
- For your children’s sake, try to get along with their other parent. Don’t say bad things about your children’s other parent in front of your children.
- Routines, like regular meals and bedtimes, can help you manage a busy schedule. And they help your child feel more secure.
- Share child care with other parents if you can.
- Try to have the same caregivers most of the time. This helps your child feel secure.
- For some children, change is very hard. This may show up as infants being fussy, or mood changes in young children. A toddler who is toilet trained may start having accidents. If these problems last, talk to your doctor or a counselor.
Your Child’s Other Parent
- Children can adapt well to living in two places if they get consistent, loving care.
- If you need help establishing paternity or getting or collecting child support, contact Arizona Child Support Services.
- If you need help getting the right to spend time with your child, call your local County Attorney’s Office.
- If you think your child is not safe with her other parent, get help. See the Emotional Health page of this guide.
For Teen Parents
- Caring for your baby is a lot of work, so it’s normal to feel tired and stressed. This is true even though you love your baby. Be patient with yourself and ask for help when you need it.
- Try to get enough sleep, healthy food and time just for yourself. This will help you stay healthy, so you can be there for your baby. The Having a Healthy Pregnancy, Oral Health and Emotional Health pages of this guide will help you get started. The Finding and Using Health Care page has tips on getting medical care for yourself and your baby.
- If you are living with your family, try to talk openly about feelings and responsibilities.
- If you are stressed, call the confidential teen hotline Teen Lifeline, or see the Emotional Health page in this guide.
- Finishing school will help you get a good job and be able to support your baby. Ask about programs that can help you stay in school. You can also get your GED or high school diploma at a community college.
- Child care can be hard to find. To learn more about good child care, see the Child Care for Babies page in this guide. Also, ask your school district about Early Head Start.
- If you’re not ready to be a parent, talk with people you trust. You can also talk with your health care provider or a pregnancy counselor. Call Arizona Family Health Partnership. For information about adoption, visit Adoption.org.
For Parents with a Disability or Chronic Illness
- Other parents with disabilities or chronic illnesses can provide advice and support. For free services and information on pregnancy, birth and parenting, contact Through the Looking Glass.
- The Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities has services and resources for adults and children.
- There are baby clothes and equipment that can make cuddling, lifting, carrying and other baby-care tasks easier. Contact Through the Looking Glass to learn more.
- For tools to help you drive, cook, communicate and do many other things, contact ABLEDATA or Arizona Technology Access.
- Look for child care that is accessible so you can visit. Make sure the staff talk with you directly or through an interpreter, not through your child. See the child care pages of this guide to learn more about good child care.
- Independent Living Centers are agencies run by and for people with disabilities. They can help you find many local services. A directory of independent living centers in Arizona is available here.
- You cannot legally be denied a home, a job, access to public places or the right to be a parent because of a disability. However, you may need legal help to get what you need. Contact the Arizona Center for Disability Law.
- If you are helping to raise your grandchildren, you may want to find a support group or resource center for grandparents. For more information, contact Kinship Support Services.
The First Things First Parent Kit was developed in partnership with Health Research for Action/UC Berkeley. © 2018 The Regents of the University of California. Additional video, graphic and other content © 2018 First Things First. All rights reserved.