It's not the singleness in itself as sometimes it is one of life's inevitable situations, like when a parent dies. Yet when this occurs and a supportive extended family branch is available, often times it goes without saying, their help is needed. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, often willingly assist the lone parent and voluntarily provide resources and support in a number of ways. Support systems often help through; gift giving, carpooling, babysitting, having the kids for summer, or paying school tuition.
However, should there be any different expectation when both parents are involved? Rearing children is not a standard two person job! At its best it's always been a job for the "village" or at least a small circle of people that include extended family, friends, teachers, neighbors, and local businesses.
Too often people enter the world of parenting without intention, therefore no planning. Parents are a powerful influence on children and the lack of support in times of need, weighing down on the single parent cannot always be transparent and will in some ways impact the children aiding in shaping their perspectives of how they fit into the challenges and frustrations of lone parents and the non participative bystanders around them.
Subsequently, the most troubling issues of single parenting come from the emotional baggage and stresses brought on by societal memes and distractions that focus on the deadbeat parent and the parent that chose them. Although there is much to be said about responsible sex and planned parenting as a best start for any family, for the individuals that choose life and parenting regardless of these circumstances, while they are doing their best to raise the child/children is not the time to make these judgments. Dead or deadbeat, the child and parent need as much support as possible. Further, these criticisms often come from those that are simply looking for an excuse to not be of assistance. Many say “It’s about the children not the parents!” Yet it is impossible to help the children without being helpful to the parent, just as it is impossible to refuse assisting parents without being a hindrance to the children.
In addition, the choice of a single parent to work outside the home or not, regardless of the economy, is an individual decision that should be made case by case by the parent. For a parent with multiple children of various ages, working outside of the home may be more of a financial burden than assistance. Others may only have one child, yet that child’s special needs may be best served by that parent. Finally, for some, taking full responsibility of children at home and being available to volunteer at school or home school is the parent’s option and is therefore commendable in that they are fulfilling their role as parent in making life decisions with their children in the forefront. Yet, so is the parent that believes working on a job is the best way to support their children’s needs.
Ironically and unfortunately, all these decisions are simultaneously criticized at any given time by society and the status of “Single Parent” is often used as a scapegoat, in some cases even by the single parents themselves.
Many times the lone parents will speak out against the obstacles barring them from the access needed to be the best citizen and parent possible, citing their single parent status as the reasons for these needs such as:
- More Flexible work hours
- Better/Affordable Health and Dental Benefits
- Affordable and Flexible Childcare Options
- Healthy and Affordable food options
- Better pay and time off
Yet these needs are no different for a two parent family. On the opposite end of the spectrum people lash out at single parents with the following:
- Get a job! (As if parenting were not a job)
- Get a better job! (As if parenting were not a better job)
- Stop having babies! (Pro-Choice?)
- Make that deadbeat do their job! (you can’t get blood from a turnip, and you certainly don’t want to force children on an individual that doesn't care for them.)
Yet the same individuals praise and honor the stay at home parent of a nuclear family where one parent works. Yet how can the married stay at home be a dedicated parent and the single parent not be?
There are many more disparaging and misinformed criticisms, but the point is, all of these are irrelevant to the situation at hand. Child rearing in any status is a job that takes serious commitment and sacrifice. The category “single parent” is almost always considered in statistical surveys as an undesired status or assumed as only one parent participating in the children’s lives, yet until approximately 2005 it was the term assigned to all parents that were not married to each other or were divorced even though they were co-parenting. Therefore, these numbers included cohabiting parents that only differ from married parents on paper. ChildStats.gov shows that from 2005- 2012 there were:
- 74% two parent homes, cohabitating parents
- 64% two parent homes, married couples
- 28% single mother homes
- 4% single father homes
To be or not to be married when children are involved, is another status that should be solely and honestly determined by the parents, with the best interest of the children as an important factor but not the sole determining factor. Marriage, although supported and recognized by law, is in conflict with some individuals right “Pursuant to happiness” or in violation of an individuals "freedom of" or "freedom from" religion.
Further, single parenthood does not auto qualify a child’s future as bleak, just as a child from a two family home is not guaranteed to be a high achiever or extremely successful. Either case depends on the amount of guidance, love, and support received during growth and development at minimum.
Without A Father is an organization that provides resources, advice, budget and resume assistance, and online mentor-ship to help teens succeed in life, especially those from single parent homes. They've also compiled a list of successful people from single parent homes:
Alicia Keyes - “My mother was a single mother and she balanced it and worked at it and raised me so well. There’s always a way if you have the will,” Alica has said.
Bill Clinton - President Clinton told Good Morning America that he was a “Mama’s Boy” and that he still thinks of his late mom everyday.
Michael Phelps - “The person I love the most is sitting in the front row—my mom—for everything she’s done,” Michael told reporters at the Beijing games in 2008.
President Barack Obama - His mother and father divorced when He was two. Lance Armstrong - never knew his birth father.
Mary J. Blige - was abandoned by her father when she was 4.
Mariah Carey had little contact with her father after her parents divorce when she was 3.
50 Cent -never knew his father and lost his mother when he was 8.
Eric Clapton never knew his real father. He grew up thinking his grandparents were his parents and his mother his sister.
Sean Combs- was 3 when he lost his father who was murdered.
Tom Cruise- has said that he suffered from abuse as a child by his father.
Jamie Foxx- was abandoned by both his parents and raised by his adopted grandparents.
Cary Grant- grew up thinking his mother had abandoned him when she really was in a mental institution.
Enrique Iglesias was raised mainly by his nanny, Elvira Olvarez.
LL Cool J - grew up with an abusive father.
Madonna - lost her mother to cancer when she was 5. For more visit http://withoutafather.com/celebrities.php