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Single-parenting – woes and joys!

When I set out, in life, I had no intentions of being a single-parent. That’s something that just happened. Unintentionally.

Fortunately for me, I got over the initial shock of being thrust into this unknown world, and I moved forward. Today, 3 years later, I think my daughter and I have finally managed to get into a routine of sorts.

I am one of many single-parent families that are present today. Being a single parent has both advantages as well as disadvantages. This post addresses some of both.

Who is a single-parent?

A single-parent is someone who parents children below the age of 18, alone. This means that only one person is solely responsible for bringing up their children. One person alone makes the decisions regarding the disciplining of the children, the financial aspects for the family and other similar decisions.

A single-parent doesn’t have the luxury of depending on someone else when it comes to bringing up the children. And this can get quite frustrating at times.

Some of the reasons behind single parenthood are the death of a spouse, separation or divorce and unmarried parents.

Challenges faced by single parents

  1. Managing multiple responsibilities – A single-parent has to manage the responsibilities of both a mother and a father. There are a lot of important decisions that need to be taken and hardly any time in which to do them. In such situations, the parent invariably feels guilty for not being able to spend time with their child/children.
  2. Difficult to find reliable babysitters – Single parents are constantly worried about finding someone dedicated enough to look after their children. Even if they find someone reliable to look after their children, there is the constant worry of whether the child has eaten properly or not.
  3. No financial or social support – As a single-parent, there is the constant worry of financial support. A single parent has to worry about their own finances as well as trying to secure their child’s future.
  4. Not enough quality time to spend with the child – Single parents are so busy trying to manage their lives and build up their finances, they don’t get enough time to spend with their children. This is worrying for the parents as they feel that not spending quality time with their children will hamper the child’s upbringing.
  5. The legal angle – Most legal documents in India, require the child’s father’s name. With single mothers, this involves a lot of legal documentation and is time-consuming and energy sapping!

Joys of single-parenting

  1. There are fewer arguments! In a two-parent family, both the parents have strong opinions about how to bring up their children. In a single-parent family, there are no arguments! Nobody is going to challenge the parent’s way of doing things, especially parenting.
  2. Teaches independence and responsibility. Children of single parents are usually more independent and responsible. Since their parents are usually busy, children are encouraged to assist their parents, thus teaching them responsibility. 
  3. Easier to understand expectations. In families where there is only one parent, there are no contradictions. This makes the expectations (of the child and the parent) much clearer.
  4. A sense of community. Single parents usually rely on friends and family (if around), to help them care for the children. This teaches the children to socialize more and become more friendly.
  5. Close feeling. Children from single-parent families are much closer to each other (and the family) as they share responsibilities.

Single parents have chosen or have been thrust into their position for a reason. For them, the road is never easy. They have hurdles to cross at almost every step. What they need, is for someone to understand and support them.

Society, as a whole, needs to stop judging single parents. Instead, we need to make things easier for single parents and their families. We need to accept single-parent families and embrace their decision or position.

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