Single parents are becoming an ever-increasing number in our society. Some people appear to glorify the role. I sat down with a friend and asked; “how do you manage single parenting?” She willingly gave some insights into what it was like for her as a single parent.
There are times when being a single parent is necessary and beyond the control of those involved. There are other occasions when, with some patience and a willingness to forgive and be unselfish, the couple could have remained together and grow.
While the great majority of single parents are female, there is evidence that many males are playing and have played the role and have done so quite successfully. In this post, we will look at the female.
Causes of single parenting
There was a time when the chief cause of single parenthood was the death of the father due to war or the early onset of a disease. Failure of a marriage that led to divorce was also a huge contributor.
Over the past four decades however, this role has been glamorized so that many have been led to think that it is a good way to approach parenting. The traumatic effects on all involved is seldom contemplated even when it is glaring. Many television shows and movies promote this form of parenting while generally bashing the male. At the same time, they tell the woman; you are a strong woman, you can do it on your own. You don’t need a man.
So we see a huge number of women falling for this lie and very early in life choosing the part of single parenthood. Even teenage girls today tell you that they do not want to get married, a thing that most women looked forward to and dreamed about some years ago. They however, plan to have children.
The attitude of the male has also contributed in a big way to the female choosing to go this way. His lack of devotion to one woman, the inability to provide for his wife and child and the absence of leadership skills, all play a part in the single parent alternative.
Single parenting and the mother
In the case of the person interviewed, being a single parent was not her choice. She was in what she thought was a committed relationship with her child’s father. They prayed about and planned to have a child. She was thinking that this was going to be the family of her dreams. Soon the dream turned into a nightmare.
Even though we often say that people don’t change, we all do. Or could it be that what shows up later in a relationship was what was there all the time, but was being masked? That’s one of the reasons why it is important to really get to know the person that you hope to commit your life to. Reaching our to wise adults and friends who will honestly tell you of the individual’s character is also important when making your decision.
If there are too many negative comments about him coming especially from those who are close to and know him, it is probably wise to back off. Do this early, before you become emotionally attached and more so, physically. When you do that, you make it easier on yourself and the other person, to let go. Emotional and physical bonding can be devastating to break away from.
In this case, the male’s attitude changed from being a loving, caring soul, to one of verbal, emotional and later, physical abuse. Threats were made on her life and later on the life of her/their child. She endured this for seven (7) years, hoping that the situation would improve. It didn’t. Each incident of abuse subtracted from the love and emotional devotion that she had for him.
The fights would be about or over anything. She recalled him bringing home another daughter – different mother – without consulting her. Her objection to this brought on abuse.
One day, she summoned the courage to leave. She returned to live with her mom. When things cooled down, he came and apologized. She forgave him and returned home with him. She wanted her family and was willing to try to make it work. But it became a cycle. Peaceful times, abuse, she’d leave, he’d come and apologize and she would return home with him. All the while, the bond was being eroded.
Finally, she made up her mind, she could not continue. The plan was to not let him know that she was leaving. She would pack and disappear while he was at work. But for some reason, he passed home that day while she was packing and there was a huge confrontation. He was verbally abusive and violent but she left anyway. Before she left, he attempted to have a close relative convince her to stay, but her mind was made up.
She had always had her mother’s support and she leaned heavily upon her on this occasion. This time when he came with his apology it was accepted, but there was no going back. It was over.
Many may be up in arms and wonder “why didn’t she leave him before”. Others say that you should leave at the first sign of abuse and pour scorn on the person who is abused. This is always a blinkered view, since we do not have all the information pertaining to the situation.
In most cases, as in this one, the woman loved her man and really wanted the relationship to work and her dream of family to become a reality. There is a commitment component that comes with love that doesn’t just fly out the window when abuse or any other disagreeable incident occur. It’s easy to be on the outside and know what the other person should do, but when it is your turn, then you begin to understand.
Try not to be judgmental. Instead, if you are a female, choose carefully, wisely. Not every well-built, handsome, sweet-talking man, is the one for you. Be patient in getting to know him and do not fall for the idea that to prove your love for him, you have to allow him access to your body. If that is one of his lines, then you should see red flags immediately.
So after years of trying and enduring everything, she was on her own, but with added responsibility. There was a female child. Financial issues began to rare its head and a choice had to be made. Find another man, or find employment. She chose the latter and did whatever she could to provide for herself and her daughter. The man that used to provide, since she had refused to return to him, refused to dip his hands into his pocket and give support to the child that they had planned together.
And then there were the no longer fulfilled emotional and sexual needs. She had been sapped of healthy emotions while with him until she had unwittingly began to downplay their importance in her life. And I have come to understand that for the woman, when the emotions go, the desire for intimacy also disappears. Is that true ladies?
What was once normal, now has to be hidden as she shifted into survival mode. It was now about herself and her child. Even if a good man came along, her first consideration would be; “will he be a good father to my child, or will he abuse her?” She didn’t allow herself the luxury of finding out, just in case he was an abuser.
She decided that she had to find a better paying job, and so she returned to school. After some years, she was able to complete her education in the field that she chose and gain employment. The scars of her earlier relationship are still present however. She has little or no contact with her child’s father. She does not want him to know where she lives. He seldom provides financial support for their child.
However, he has chosen to taunt her by sending pictures of his other daughters in their school uniform to her. It’s as though he is saying to her “I take care of these”. She ignores them and him.
She makes the best of the life that she has now. It’s all about herself and her child. Men are generally viewed with suspicion and the thought that they are after only one thing. And then there is that ever present fear that her child could be abused.
Single parenting and the child
Being the child of a single parent is not easy on the child. I know of no child who want that kind of arrangement, and I have dealt with many. Various behavioral issues arise in the life of the child when the parents separate or when one parent has been absent from the beginning.
In this case, the child had lived with both parents for some time and so had witnessed the abuse firsthand. This in itself is a very traumatic experience for a child and can cause irreparable damage.
In the mind of the child, daddy is supposed to love mommy and mommy love daddy. Anything outside of that is confusing and leaves the child often wondering if it was their fault. In some instances, the parents unwisely seek to secure the love and support of the child by telling him/her damaging things about the other parent. In all cases, such an approach backfires, for while the desired aim might appear to have been achieved, the damage is done to the psyche of the child.
In this case, the mother took time to explain to the child her reason for leaving and was careful while explaining the situation, not to try to ween the child’s love away from her father. The child had been a witness to some of the incidents of abuse and had on occasions intervened in an effort to bring peace between them. So, in spite of her age she understood and agreed to the separation.
It is difficult to be abusive and limit that abuse to one person. So her father, while abusing her mother, had been verbally unkind to his daughter as well. This has scarred her but with the right help, she can overcome this and not have it destroy her potential for a healthy relationship later in life.
I have come to learn and witness the positive effects of forgiveness in any situation, on the one who chose to forgive, and at times, on the one forgiven. I believe that it is one of the best answers to hurt and pain inflicted on us by others and is the cure needed to prevent the incident wrecking later happiness.
A child in a single parent home, is also exposed to care and protection from many individuals. Therefore, the values they learn are varied and can often conflict with those of the parent. This too can be an additional burden on both the child and the parent. If the father has visiting rights, further conflicts can arise especially in cases where the father is trying to get back at the mother through the child.
So many people are often called upon to help provide care for the child while the parent works. Grandparents contribute, close friends, sisters, brothers – at times, and even siblings. The mother is often at pains to find that right person to provide that ideal care for her child. This too can expose the child to abuse in all its forms. At the same time, the working mother is seldom at ease while on the job. Her heart is always wondering if her child is being given the proper care.
The child is also facing a dilemma, for she has to decide whose training to accept. Mom might do it this way, and think that one thing is bad, while her caregiver may have another opinion on the matter. Who should she listen to? Of course, this can also lead to conflict between parent and caregiver with the child at the center.
In our case study, my friend is generally satisfied with the assistance that she has been getting from those who provide care for her child when she is at work.
To Our Fathers
Allow me here, to talk one on one with my brothers who are fathers. I know that many have become fathers, not by choice but by ‘happening’. You saw an attractive woman, you went to bed with her only for the pleasure, then some months later, you get the news; you are going to be a dad. It’s not what you wanted or expected, but it is not going away.
Or, you had committed to a relationship with this gorgeous person but for some reason, things fell apart and you both separated. Or you were married and got divorced or separated. Prior to that though, a child or children came along. What is your response to the lady and your offspring?
Since you have read this far, then it stands to reason that you have come to a better understanding of what a woman goes through when she is left as a single parent. You may think that you were justified in your actions and who knows, you may be, but you know what? It’s no longer about you alone. It’s about her too and the child that you both brought into the world.
So here’s my suggestion, step up. Yes, I said step up. Take up your responsibility like a man. Acknowledge that your actions had a result and therefore consequences. The result was the child and an eternal bond with her mother. The consequences, you have a responsibility to provide for that child as though no one else was providing for him. So even if mommy is employed, don’t let that get in the way.
When you take up your responsibility, you free his mom to provide him with better care, emotionally, physically, educationally, socially and spiritually. You both may never be reunited, but her attitude to you would always be one of respect. That is, if you also do what you are supposed to do in the other areas. Your responsibility is not only to provide financial support but you need to spend time with your child, help in his training, speak good things about his mother and supporting him in what ever areas he may need your support as he matures.
You will be loved and respected for it. And even if you are not, you will have that satisfaction of knowing that you did what was right for the proper development of your child.
What if she is not yours? If that is your fear, then get a paternity test done. Until then, step up and stand strong under the load of your responsibility. Worry not about the other man that has come into her life. Focus on your child. Do your best not to be a source of conflict. Instead, choose peace and cooperation. Even if/when she is confrontational, be calm. Choose your words wisely and speak them carefully and with the right tone. You’ll marvel at the results.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
When I began to practice the above, there was a dynamically positive change in my life and the way people treated me. I encourage you to try it.
Obscene and foul language does not make you a man. Your ability to control your temper helps to define your character. Be a man because you were born a man and you know the God designed plan for you. If you don’t know it, this is a good time to find out. Read His words and pray. He will tell you. Then, by His grace, practice it.
Making the best of it
Being a single female is a tough role. It most likely was not what you had in mind for yourself when you were dreaming about being in love and one day becoming a mother. However, if that’s where you are, then you have to make the best of it until you can turn things around.
From my interview, I have learned that you may hate the idea of having to do it all on your own when the ideal was to have that special someone do it with you. You worry about the bills and how they will be paid, especially if you are not employed. You hate the idea that you had to return home to your mom and more so, depend on her. And there are those who you think are whispering unkind things behind your back. But you have to go on.
You thought that you would always have his help to aid in bringing up the child, that he would be there to share a different perspective on the issue. He isn’t and at time you are at a loss to know how to handle the situation. You feel inadequate and are often stressed out and frustrated. You long to be able to relax and let someone else that you love and trust carry the load. However, he’s no longer by your side. You are weary.
Your dreams of a united, loving family where everyone would love to come home and hate to leave, have all disappeared. It has been replaced with apprehension, disappointment, guilt and fear. There’s no companionship now and many a night you lay in bed longing for his arms, but that space that was his is now empty and cold.
The desire for intimacy has not disappeared and at times you seek to assuage it with self-fulfillment. That is never satisfying and in the end, there are feelings of guilt here too. Life appears hopeless.
And then, each day, you recall that there is a God who created and loves you. He knows your every emotion and experience. You recall that you can “cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you” and you turn to Him. Then you know hope. You are energized to face another day, to make the best of it.
It’s not the ideal, but it will suffice for now until He leads you to the turn around and your life begins to blossom again.
So when someone asks you “how do you manage single parenting?” You let them know that it’s you and God and all the merciful provisions that He has made to bring you through.
Are you a single parent or know of one who can identify with this? Then share your opinion/experience with us, or this post with that person.
I would enjoy hearing from you, so you can leave your comment in the space provided.
Let’s continue to love them up now.