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Becoming a parent is both exciting and challenging at any age. And being a single parent when you’re young is a special experience, but it also brings certain pressures.
You may be worried about people judging you or making comments. You may feel you need to prove you’re a good parent and doing the best for your child. You might be unsure about what to do about your studies and work – or where to live. However you’re feeling, you’re not alone. We speak to many young single parents here at Gingerbread.
On this page, we share some guidance on key topics and point you to where you can find help, information and community. And we’re here to talk if you need to hear a friendly voice.
Becoming a parent can be incredibly rewarding. But it’s also really hard work, and it’s important to look after yourself as well as your child.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and remember that it’s OK to ask for help when you need it. If you’re worried about asking for help, Childline has advice on how to start that conversation.
If you don’t have family or friends nearby, or if you’d rather talk to someone outside your family, somewhere like Home-Start can help. They have specially trained volunteers who can visit you at home for a few hours a week.
You can also contact any of these places for advice or just someone to talk to:
It can be hard to stay close to your friends and find time to see them when you have a child. They might not seem to understand or be interested in what you’re going through, especially if you’re the only one with a baby.
Try talking to them about how you feel. They might not realise you still want to see them. They might just think you don’t have time or aren’t interested any more.
Think about when and where you could meet them. Your old hangouts might not work anymore if you used to go to pubs or stay out late, or meet miles from home. But maybe they’d be up for a walk in a nearby park, or coming to yours to see you.
You might also enjoy making friends with other young parents. Ask your health visitor or have a look online for parent and baby groups in your area.
Childline has tips on how to keep up with your old friends and meet new ones too.
Money is often a big worry for young single parents. But there is support out there to help you manage.
If you’re under 18, there are special rules about what benefits you can claim. We have 2 easy-to-use benefits checkers – including one for under 18s – that you can use to see what you can claim. Or you can talk to us for some tailored advice.
If you’re pregnant or your baby is under 6 months old, and you’re on certain benefits or tax credits, you might be able to get a £500 Sure Start Maternity Grant.
If you’re 10 weeks pregnant or more or have a child under 4, you might qualify for the Healthy Start scheme. You’ll get a Healthy Start card with money loaded onto it that you can use to buy food, baby milk or vitamins. Find out more about Healthy Start
You may be wondering about how to handle childcare – it can be hard to find affordable, trustworthy childcare. Our page on childcare looks at different options and how to get help with the costs.
Both parents are financially responsible for their child’s wellbeing, even if they don’t live with them. And for lots of single parents, child maintenance is crucial for making ends meet.
This usually includes regular payments to the parent who cares for the child most of the time. It can also include paying bills or buying things such as clothes and toys, or anything else that you and your child’s other parent agree on.
It’s not always easy to agree on child maintenance. If you’re finding it hard to speak to the other parent on your own, try talking with an adult you trust about how they can help you.
You can read lots more on our page on arranging child maintenance.
It’s not always easy for young single parents to find somewhere safe and affordable for them and their child to live.
If you’re homeless or think you might lose your home, reach out to your council – as a single parent, you’ll be prioritised for help. Find out more about what you can do if you’re at risk of losing your home.
It’s not always easy to study and be a single parent. But plenty of young single mums and dads do continue their studies while looking after their child. You might find it interesting to read stories from other single parents who are studying or watch Vimi talk about studying as a single parent.
If you’re going back to school after having your baby, Childline has lots of helpful advice about settling back in, keeping up with schoolwork and dealing with negative comments. And if you’re wondering what to study, you can use the National Careers Service website to look for courses in your area.
If you’re from England and between 16 and 19, you may be able to get a 16-19 Bursary to help pay for education-related costs like books or travel. If you’re from Wales, you may be able to get an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) instead.
And if you’re from England and younger than 20, you may qualify for the Care to Learn scheme to get help with the cost of childcare while you’re studying.
Date last updated: 18 May 2023