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OT - Single parent families

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

I know this the not a situation dealt with by many here, because often there are multiple “parents” involved (bio or step), but generally what is your view on single parents?

I was watching a report on single parents a few days ago and to be honest, it left me really angry. The general  view was that raising a child in a single parent home was detrimental  to the child in the long run. These children did worse at school, were badly behaved, had less direction in life...  The answer to this was that children need a mommy and a daddy – period!  (There was no other or better way to raise a child.)

Also single mothers were mostly single by choice: irresponsible women who had children and lived off state benefits, or had multiple failed relationships.  The only real aspect relating to men, was that they chose to be absent and not care for their children. It didn’t even look at the single fathers (which exist even in a minority) or how they cope with parenting a child with an absent mother. It makes me angry that we have the traditional “dead beat Dad” but no mention that women are sometimes “dead beat Mothers”.

This programme left me feeling like I was the worst thing ever to happen to my own son!    (Even though I know that correlation does not mean causation when looking at the factors they mentioned in a clearly biased report with an agenda to push.  It still leaves a certain stigmatised view of single mothers.)

Now, in my own situation, currently I am a single parent by choice – I initiated divorce proceedings.  Even with a “man / dad / male role model” in the house, he was not a parent to my son. I was the only parent.
I would rather raise my child in a single parent home, than live with the unhealthy dysfunction of a marriage where we had differences of opinions on how to raise our own children.  Also, my son stays with me full time – there is no splitting of children across households or multiple ideas of parenting going on. No one alienates the children and they have a stable home life.  When I became a single parent for the first time, my husband didn’t choose to be an absent father – he died. I guess it is his fault through choice to be dead and not parent his son. What a literal DEAD beat dad!

I am raising my own son and a step-son. Both are well-adjusted, decent (even good ) kids. Both are doing well academically, both have a nice circle of friends, both play sport, both have no juvenile delinquent criminal episodes.  Both are responsible and accountable in age appropriate ways. They are just regular normal kids, seemingly suffering no ill effects “without DAD”.  (Both have male role models who show an interest in their lives, which is important to me, and here I am thankful that my brothers – and Dad – who care about my kids. My mother and my first MIL still play an active role in BOTH boys lives – even though my SS is not related to my first MIL.)
Also on the financial side, I am able to raise both boys without any assistance from anyone or the state – I have a professional career. I am not some crack whore  even if I do have children  with different fathers  living under my roof. (As if that is a bad thing! Crack whores do have a job, even if it is an unsavoury one in some opinions and I will bet some of them even love their kids...  – and I need to stop watching American tv because that phrase is stuck in my head.)

I just feel you can’t win – even today!! – when you don’t have a traditional nuclear family. It is still the model that is held up as an ideal, when it is far less likely to exist.  (Divorces, remarriages, same sex marriages, single parents. I won’t even mention my thoughts on abusive parents who should not even be around their own children.)
 All of these people have a reason for how they ended up the way they are:  it feels harsh when judged by a generalised stereotype, that my own son is on the road to hell, because he doesn’t have a father present in the home.)

TL:DR   So... What do you think of single parents / single moms? Reputation is bad, probably like step-mothering? I am a single mom step-mother too, so its double whammy.  To me, it feels as if Step-Mom and Single-Mom are two sides of the same female bashing coin.


justmakingthebest's picture

That report is crap. I am not saying that there aren't welfare mom's (ahem... BM) that use being single as some sort of martyr-ism and that they don't emotionally damage their kids in the process. Or that there aren't dugged out BM's who don't know their baby daddies- plenty of those exsist too.

I was a single mom for several years. My kids excelled inschool (still do), have friends, are supported, loved and cared for. The implication that I was not doing enough pisses me off. I will say that their father is actively involved though. I make sure that there is no strain there. However, if my ex had died instead of us getting divorced, the care of my children would not have changed. 

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

This is part of what p!ssed me off. Why is the "bad" single mom taken as representative of the whole group? There are many moms, like you were for years, who do a great job and can involve there ex's. You weren't a rotten mom and your ex wasn't automatically "a dead-beat no  interest in his kids dad". Divorce meant for a while you were two single, seperated parents, it didn't mean it lacked commitment or care to your kids.

You don't have to tell me about welfare deadbeat moms who take rotten care of their kids ... My exSD is an example of one. Someone who should have been sterilised as birth! She is a "single mom" (with a boyfriend and no child). I am a single mom, you were a single mom.... None of us are alike.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

I guess I'm completely split... On one hand, I mean they can be SUPER kick a$$ hard-working individuals in a really tough situation. SOm eof them definitley aren't there by choice, whether the partner walked out or passed away or even fled an abusive situation. So they're just doing their best to keep their head above water.

On the other hand, we have TONS of "single" parents out there that have cut the partner out of the kid's life, gotten pregnant on purpose and didn't catch the man, or have PAS'd out the kid. Or there are also divorced parents who pull the "single parent" card even if the other parent is invovled just for the sympathy. - Note: They are technically single parents and some of them are rocking it, this is referring to the ones who don't do much and just try to get the "woah is me" image -

There are also people like Psycho who simply used it to get benefits. Went on and on about how hard being a single parent it, and yet in the same breathe was living with a man and hadn't even seen the girls in MONTHS.

So I guess it depends on the situation. Are they actually doing the best with a hard situation?? Or are they using this for their advantage??

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

So I guess it depends on the situation. Are they actually doing the best with a hard situation?? Or are they using this for their advantage??

This is what matters to me. You get good parents in a nuclear family, you also get good parents, who are single or in a step situation. You get rotten parents in all of the variables. It is not only in step or single parent households who are "bad" for kids. Many people are out there trying their best to raise their kids in difficult circumstances - it is not a garantee that their kids will be worse off.

Everything to mention has truth to it. I think it should be judged on a case by case basis rather than blanket paint single parents as rubbish - which was the summary of the report I watched. (Believe me, if I could raise my son in a nuclear family, it would be my preferance, but it is not an option I have.. so I try to do the best I can.)



ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Exactly. A toxic situation is a toxic situation and a toxic person is a toxic person. Doesnt' matter if it's nuclear or single.

Something I mentioned to my cousin when he was going through his divorce was basically just that a toxic situation isn't going to be good for anyone. And sometimes being seperate IS what is going to be most beneficial to the kids. A nuclear fmaily isn't always the best option depending on situation. (Yours included!!!)

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Sometimes I think getting divorced is best. It was the best option for me and my son, because it was truly toxic. This is not the way I would raise a kid - or choose to and I didn't. It may be the same for your cousin. It is a hard decision, but in the longer run it is the correct one.

What do you mean by my situation? I am not clear on this. (Sorry. Smile )  I don't consider my marriage to my second husband a "nuclear family".  In that case you would be correct: it was not only "not the best option", it was a bloody unmitigated disaster!  Second marriage was probably a "nuclear" family in only the sense that it went booooommmm and the results were radio-active.
To my first husband, yes I would consider that a nuclear family as he was the father of my son - and it was a good marriage where we both cared for our son.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

It was what was best for my cousin. He passed away a few months ago now, but honstly the girls and him both thrived a LOT better after the divorce. It was a hard decision. He really wanted to make it work, but ultimately with everything going on, it wasn't a healthy situation.

LOL. I was saying that you leaving your toxic relationship was the healthy thing for you AND your son Smile That's all!!!

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Got it. Thanks. Smile

I was wondering which marriage you were referring to because I have been married MULTIPLE times, you know... Wink And yeah, as I said it was nuclear with IPOD-H. The boom-type.

I am so sorry about your cousin. Yes, sometimes one person wants to try but you can not make your spouse be a better partner in your relationship. It is sad when that happens and it ends in divorce.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Lol. You mentioned. But IPOD-H was something special (in a bad way...) Wink

Thank you, I miss him, he was my buddy, literally one of like 4 people I had consistent contact with.  It's sad, but I dunno, if it ultimately creates a better environment for everyone involved, I think it's a positive!!!

Iamwoman's picture

I agree with PA that it depends on the situation.

I suspect that the story you read or heard was concocted by a man. When men don't get what they want in life, they tend to blame women.

Abusive men in particular will be the first to call a single mother a "hoar", "irresponsible", "worthless", "adulterer", or any other number of insults. This isn't any different than the vast array of insulting terms used to describe a woman who sleeps around or even just enjoys sex, while the terms for a man who does the same tend to be congratulatory.

I've also noticed that sinlge dads are pretty much given the title of "hero" while single moms are either pitied or despised.

I married my DH when DD15 was 8 years old. I spent 8 years as a single mom.

I am my daughter's hero. I stepped up to the plate and was a mom and a dad to her. I gave her more opportunities than many children with two-parent homes had. However, I still was looked down upon by some members of the community simply because I had a child out of wedlock (nevemind that her father was abusive once I became pregnant, and we were actually engaged when I became pregnant - yep we were supposed to be married before she was even born, so how is it my fault that she was born out of wedlock? Even though I was being abused, I still would have married him to avoid social stigma and have a "real family", but in hindsight, was glad I never did despite the multiple engagement rings he kept giving me).

I do see why you became so angry watching or reading this info MissT.

However, it is just the same old thing, re-packaged. Men trying to shame women into submission because it's easier than actually treating a woman with decency and respect.

As far as single dads go - I think we don't see hurtful slights on them because of the hero status they incur, and also because men don't necessarily write hateful stories about other men - and women don't find it necessary: we do what a single dad does, everyday but without the thanks.


iamlosingit's picture

not trying to turn this around, but this reminded me of something DH said.  He HATES how BM refer to themselves as "single moms" or "single parents" when the father or other parent is in the picture, very involved, and paying CS.  BM calls herself a "single parent" and DH goes through the roof.  He says they abuse it to gain sympathy and to make the other parent look bad.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Oh no, this is the same note to me. SS's mom calls herself a single Mom too... She hasn't had custody of her children for years, SS hasn't lived with her for  years and in the last three years has seen him a handful of times. She hasn't contributed a cent to their upkeep in over 7 years, but she too is a single mom (who lives with a boyfriend who tends to change.)


beebeel's picture

The problem with these studies is the term "single parent" is either based on self reporting (so dad pays CS and has the kid 49 percent of the time, but mom still calls herself a "single parent" because she isn't married) or it's based on tax filing status (so mom can live with a string of boyfriends who pay for everything while Biodad still pays CS and has his kids EOWE). Therefore, the studies are actually observing a broad spectrum of circumstances and situations. As the results indicate, there are many ways parents screw up their kids!

Personally, I think of a single parent as such: there is only ONE parent raising, supporting and financially providing for the child(even). There is no CS. There is no shared custody. Anything else is simply a parent who isn't in a romantic relationship with the other birth parent. A study on these single parents would actually be revealing. 

The U.S. has tracked statistics regarding single fathers. Surprisingly, the kids do not have the same level of at-risk aspects as those with "single mothers." I believe that is because so many more women consider/call themselves single parents to cash in the sympathy card. None of my divorced dad friends have ever called themselves a single dad. But the second the ink is dry on the CO, I've seen women who have had a highly involved parent for 12 years in their ex husband suddenly lament about their single parenthood status.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

I agree with this. So many of  the people interviewed, are not what I would consider a single parent. 

I work with a "single mom". She is a good mom, no argument there, but she is divorced, she has 50/50 with her ex and gets CS. To me, claiming you are single mom in an instance like that is almost an act of aggression. You write off any influence of the father on the children because of how you choose to define yourself.

In the report I watched - which was really rubbish and a waste of an hour of my time - there was no mention of single fathers who really are single fathers. Men were just deadbeats. That is not how it works in real life. For some time my exH was actually a single father. He raised his kids on his own without any assistance from his XW - who was what I would call a deadbeat mom. He only got it half right, so its a good thing he isn't in the US to mess with the stats.  Wink

beebeel's picture

I think you touched on another reason some women claim the single parent status: to negate the father.

DPW's picture

How you define "single parent" is the first question, in my opinion. I grew up in a single-parent household - uneducated single mother, MIA dad ($wise and timewise; have only seen him once when I was three months old), no siblings. The struggle was real. Thankful for government safety nets or who knows how I would have ended up. 

Today, so many people throw around the "single parent" wording that I think we have been desensitized to the true meaning and issues surrounding single-parents. I think Myss in your case, you have surmounted most of these stereotypical challenges such as poverty, education, financial means on your own to raise your son, positive influences and lifestyle, etc... that you are almost guaranteed a certain level of success with your son. However, growing up with other children who were raised by single moms (mostly moms back then) on government assistance and dads as MIA, most of these children ended up continuing the cycles of poverty, reliance on government assistance, lack of post-secondary education, teen (and often single) parents, etc... 


Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

You got to the crux of it - it is just not being in a single parent home, that influences the outcomes for the children. The environmental, social  and economic circumstances play a huge role too. Nuclear families who are poor - for whatever reason - can also struggle with good outcomes for their kids. Single mom's can beat the odds, and raise good, educated kids. Some kids do beat the odds, but saying (as this programme did) that single moms are almost certain to have bad outcomes and that the dads were deadbeats is too generalised to me. Many people do the best they can under the hard circumstances they are in, and I felt it really unfair to bash those moms.  

Also agreeing with you that the definition of a single mom is not uniform. It is also applied to divorced mothers who are not living with the father of their children. If they are partnered or the dad is involved, to me, these are not "single" moms.

A lot of the social problems I see here in the UK, has to do with a lack of role models and understanding that better choices can be made. Throw in an access to "easy money" and we start seeing crime, through drugs and property crime. And in this case easy money means drug money. (We have a soft / recreational drugs problem.)
I am not opposed to state assistance - I do believe there should be a safety net for people who are struggling and need it. Yes, some people do abuse it, but this is not the majority, and even if it is, I would rather it be there to help people who need it than take it away as a whole.  So I am all for social programmes which assist people and I don't mind my own taxes going there.

I hear you on the cyclic nature of poverty / single moms, I just don't think it is a good thing to bash these people when they struggling as this stupid programme did.  (Which basically said being raised by single mom - and I had been one  before -  my own son was on the road to no where, without looking at anything else. BUT they were trying to push an agenda...)

classyNJ's picture

I can't really comment on the studies because I feel kids are completely different in this day and age but I can give my story.

I am 50 and the youngest of 3.  My brother and sister share a father and I have a different father.  Neither of these men wanted anything to do with us after they left.  I did get phone calls from my sperm donor but only once a year and on HIS birthday.  My brother and sister did not hear from their donor after they turned 12.  He remarried and had another family.

My mother did not get one cent from these men.  She did take my donor to court once and when the judge said he was to go to jail she wanted to drop it because how the hell can he make money in jail? 

My donor was a musician and a mean drunk.  My sibs donor was a womanizer who like to beat his women.

Yes, my mother was a single mother who worked all hours, collected welfare when needed and church donations of food and clothing were a norm at our house.

All of us have a great work ethic, college degrees and great paying jobs.  We respect our mother and are grateful for the sacrifices she made for us.

We are much better people without these men in our lives.  I can't begin to imagine what it would have been like to be brought up in a violent and alchoholic home.  Instead we had a strict mother who knew she had no backup so had to keep a tight leash on us.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Exactly! Your mom raised three good kids - even with true deadbeat dads.  Your mother also made the choice - correct IMO- to keep the bad influence away from you.
How is what she did not better, than letting the kids grown up in a home with a mean drunk or wife beater? Staying together is not always the best choice with the best outcomes.
I am sure on some level your Mom also chose to be a single Mom - she chose to keep the bad male influence away, in much of the same way I chose to be a single mom the second time round. Being a single mother doesn't mean you are incompetent to raise independent, productive, adults with good character.

Oh this wasn't a study. It was IMO cherry-picked information from various studies served up as propaganda. Prime time tv no less.

Jcksjj's picture

I think this is a correlation vs causation thing...yes single parents might statistically have kids with worse outcomes but is it the fact that they are a single parent really causing it? Or is it that in some areas where it is prevalent to have kids with poor outcomes single moms are also prevalent, etc.

My personal experience is that it varies dramatically on many factors including the kids themselves. I've seen kids with loser moms grow up to have PhDs and I've seen spoiled kids from well off 2 parent families end up in jail. It's too individualized for a study to mean much.

elkclan's picture

I never had a problem calling myself a single mom even though my ex has my son 3 days a week. I was single. I was a mom. It's not a big deal. The only time I ever 'cashed in' on it was to demand a flu immunisation when supplies were short. Flu nearly crippled me one year, it took me over a year to recover, and I just don't want to take the chance. I had to pull the single mom card so I could be classed as a carer and get the vaccination. On the other hand, my ex is a complete tosser so it was kind of true. 

To be honest, in my case it was a lot easier. When I lived with my ex he did sweet FA. I had ALL the responsibiity plus a lot of grief and abuse on top of that. 

Now I'm not single. I'm still a mom and a SM, too. My partner is awesome and I adore him and he's amazing and makes my life so much easier and more pleasant. My ex is still a bad dad. Is there a name for that?

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

When you find the name for bad dad's please let me know. (I know one and I still don't have a real description of what he is.)