Friday, October 21, 2011

What is a Single Parent?

We hear the term "single parent" and it creates a Pavlovian response of sympathy, as in "he or she has it tougher than everyone else", but really, what is a single parent?

Is it the parent who has single-handedly raised his or her children with no financial or other support from the child's other parent? Is it the the custodial parent who has his or her child most of the time while the other parent has access to the child and provides child support? Do we even need to differentiate?

Raising children with both parents present in the same home is challenging enough.
Now take away a parent and suddenly morning and bedtime routines, appointments, homework, clothes shopping, extra curricular activities, illness, etc. all fall on one parent, for the most part. Now take away a parent altogether and now there are no breaks for the remaining parent (which blows my mind) and no financial support. Add to that no second parent with whom to field questions of health, morals or education.

I know some parents in the last scenario who do it all and I don't know how they are still sane. Some say they prefer it that way but it certainly can't be an easy life.

My own situation has my children with me for half of the week. I miss them terribly when they are not with me but I'm also given that "down time" from parenting to do extra work, chores, errands, etc. The downside is that having a routine is next to impossible, as the children just start getting reminded of their responsibilities when they are gone again. All family business must be addressed in half of the time, leaving little time for just being a family.

Even though I have a partner, he entered into my children's lives when they were older, so the business of raising them (when they are with me) has fallen to me. Still, I don't feel I qualify or have "earned" the title of "single parent."

What is your definition and understanding of a "single parent?"

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