Parenthood on one hand has always been something that majority of the masses have beautifully written about. From calling it an absolute blessing, to a wonderful learning experience - great things have been said about it. On the other hand, however, the concept of ‘single parenting’ has undergone a lot of stereotypical judgement, and has the tendency to conjure up debates among people. According to a survey based upon the Demographic Statistics of India, a constant rise in the number of single parent families has been observed over the years, with majority being female led.
There are a number of reasons that result in single-parent households, with death of the other parent being the most common, as well as societally accepted cause. Some of its other sources are: divorced parents, children born out of wedlock whose parents refused to marry, parental separation, as well as children adopted by a single woman or man. Whatever the reason may be, children belonging to such a family structure are often subjected to certain assumptions made by society, a lot of which may hold untrue for them. As a developing nation, we must take it upon ourselves to first identify these myths before becoming too conclusive about such children.
Craving the other parent’s presence
More often than not, it is common belief that children belonging to single parent households have this hopeless craving for the missing parent. Truth is, that while this may be valid for some children, quite a few of them are content with the one parent that they have. This may also depend upon factors such as age and exposure, wherein children with more memories of both parents together are more likely to feel the void left behind by the missing parent compared to those who have grown up seeing just one parent all along.
Single parenthood equals financial stress
This stereotype crops up particularly in the case of single moms. A single mother is assumed to be undergoing more hardships than she actually might be facing due to financial stress regarding the smooth running of her household, as well as the overall welfare of her child or children. Kids belonging to such parents are believed to be ‘settling’ for things owing to lack of monetary backup. However, with more and more women choosing to become working professionals, finances are no more as big a concern even to a single mother as society thinks it to be.
Good upbringing is only when both parents are around
There is a research says that there is no significant difference in children’s adult relationships and behavior brought up by biological, adoptive or single parents. It depends on the exposure of conflicts that a child witnesses. Well, because there is a significant difference between the mere presence of a parent, and active involvement of that parent in the life of a child. Despite being single, if a parent has managed to strike that balance, good upbringing can absolutely be ensured!
Single parents are depressed or have low self-esteem
As humans, it can be agreed upon that we all desire companionship, and that the presence of a significant other can become a great source of strength and wellbeing for an individual. Being single may make one feel low at times, however, it is not mandate that one measures their self-worth against this sole factor. Contrary to popular belief, single parents have their own network of friends and social circle, and often to their kids this social support becomes the part of the extended family. Managing something as tough as parenting alone, may further boost self esteem not lower it.
Children of single parents have behavioral setbacks
I once remember somebody being taken aback upon discovering that their ever-confident and cheerful classmate had a single mother. The reason behind this is the fact that most people assume children of single parents to be sad, depressed, or carriers of emotional or behavioral issues in some form or another. Irrespective of whether they belong to a single parent household or not, the nature and personality of a child is mouldable, and depends upon various factors such as active involvement of the existing parent, evidence of arguments between kids and parents, love and care from other family members, peer perception and acceptance, as well as their overall environment during their growth years.
Single parents are unsuccessful individuals
Our life comprises of multiple aspects - parenthood being one of them. A different and rather societally unacceptable outcome in one aspect of one’s life does not imply that the person has failed everywhere else as well. The way we teach our kids that their performance in school will not guarantee them success later on in life, it is important to both understand as well as accept the fact that being a single parent does not equate to a person being unsuccessful or having failed in life. As an individual, despite one’s circumstances, a person can achieve great milestones in life if they believe in themselves, have a positive self-image, avoid engaging in self-doubt, are confident as well as aware of their strengths and capabilities, and they have a strong support system in the name of family and friends.
One parent households are broken homes
To believe that single parent households lack self-sufficiency means that one is blindly validating an absolute myth! Society assumes that if both parents are not present to run a family as well as nurture their child, that home is deemed broken come what may. Families having a single parent may not mandatorily be dysfunctional if its members make it a point to engage in effective communication, have mutual respect towards individual space and difference in opinions, and effortlessly work towards supporting each other at all times. A happy family is more about fulfilling bonds of love. It is possible for households with a societally acceptable family tree to internally lack affection, and homes with a varying family structure to have a very satisfying environment.
Children of single parents are low on self-esteem and confidence
There is research study that proves otherwise! Children of single parents were as confident or high on confidence. Self esteem is the emotional evaluation we conduct over ourselves. In simple words, it refers to our perception about our worth and our belief in our abilities. If a child has received timely care and affection, and continues to feel an intense sense of belongingness towards their family, single parent or not, the child will grow into a confident adult. Parental negligence and lack of communication are what destroy a child’s self-esteem, and that is something that can take place even within a family with both parents around.
Divorced parent means the child has only one parent
Two parents always involves a ‘team’. A team can also have one person. There is a research says, that child from single fathers adopt ‘mothering behavior’ from them. Also, being divorced does not imply that the child has the involvement of only one parent. This is where the concept of ‘co-parenting’ steps in.If mutually agreed upon by both parties, there is always a possibility of both parents being present for the child to take care of their emotional, social, and psychological development and wellbeing. Thus, one cannot assume or guarantee that children of divorced parents are obvious to be lacking the presence of the parent they are not residing with.
Single parents are responsible for their situation
We make a choice looking at the present resources/condition and assuming future situation. Any choice can go wrong, no matter how valid they seem at a point. While some parents would have willingly chosen to single handedly raise their child/children, not all of them do so by will or consent. Widowed parents are an apt example of how an individual is not always responsible for their circumstances. Parenthood is a lot of hard-work, and the bond that both parents share - be it positive or negative can be an outcome of various factors that may be best known to them. Instead of assuming single parents to be individuals with emotional issues, one must truly get to know a person’s behind-the-scenes before passing any such judgement about them.
Being a parent is a matter of great responsibility, and the sole positive perception of a person towards things can not only empower them as a person, but also change things for the better - both for the parent and their child.
Bashir, Satter and Fatima (2015). LIFE SATISFACTION AND SELF- ESTEEM AMONG SINGLE PARENTS ADOLESCENTS. European Journal of Business and Social Sciences, Vol. 4, No. 08.