The Myth and Reality of Single Parenthood
Being a parent in our increasingly complicated world presents challenges no one can anticipate. For parents without partners, there are additional layers of complexity to fostering a healthy environment for their children, absent the benefits inherent to a traditional family structure. As we work towards the end of the school year and plan for the next, we want to raise awareness of the issues single parents face.
In 2020, nearly 19 million children, or about 25 percent of all children in the United States, were members of single-parent families. The number of single parents in your neighborhood has most likely grown in recent years. Yet the social stigma persists, and conversations that could alleviate the sense of alienation are uncommon. When they happen, discussions about the realities of single parenthood often do not go beyond surface judgments and generalizations, leaving single parents feeling misunderstood by their married peers.
Society consistently portrays the two-parent household as an ideal, but we all know that life is rarely black and white. All families evolve, and what might have been a functional unit initially can become unstable or unsuitable. Separate living quarters may be the solution. Limiting time with one parent, or eliminating exposure to them altogether, can be the most prudent action for a child.
Whether your single-parent household came about due to divorce or separation, the untimely death of a partner, or an intentional decision to have a child on your own, chances are, you have experienced a sense of “otherness” in a number of social situations. Single parents are often met with sympathy, discomfort, or the implication that they must have done something “wrong.”
More insidious is the idea that your children are lacking in some way, at a disadvantage, or emotionally damaged. This can result in situations where your child feels that “otherness,” subject to microaggressions, or worse, being deliberately left out or avoided. We know that children can thrive in any family structure. They need a safe, stable environment and nurturing relationships to reach their full potential. How do we navigate this? How do we enact changes to diminish a pervasive sense of isolation for you and your children?
By opening up a dialogue and creating a safe space to share. Let’s have conversations that address the full spectrum of single parent life. Let’s break down the barriers that have blocked meaningful discussions. Let’s demystify the realities of single parenthood.
In the coming months, we will be speaking to several single parents about their personal stories. We will explore the entire range of experience, from issues they find difficult to manage, to the positive aspects of their family unit. The most difficult struggles and the most joyful celebrations. We will discuss their unique journey to becoming a single parent and the most valued lessons learned from single parenthood.
And we invite you to join the conversation! Rest assured, we will protect your anonymity according to your preference. If you are willing to share your story with us, please click here to send your contact information. We will reach out to schedule a 10-minute interview. Together we can harvest lessons from our earned past, manage the realities of the present, and plan for a prosperous future for you and your children.