Myths And Fallacies About Being a Single Parent
There are many common and widely known statements about being a single parent or single parenting. While these may be true for some people (the minority), they are generalisations which don’t apply to the vast majority of single parents and are made without any factual basis or concrete evidence.
Many of the statements below are about “Single Mums” because the old assumption is that Mum’s got the default and sole custody of the children. Today, males as primary carers are the minority, however, the number is believed to be on the rise as parents and the Family Law is becoming more child-focused and more open to what is in the best interests of the children, regardless of gender.
- Single Mums Just Need Sex. Single parents, above all else, want companionship and adult company. Intellectual conversation and emotional support. To find someone with whom you are sexually attracted to who also fulfils the aforementioned characteristics, is a great bonus.
- Life is Easier as a Single Parent. Single parenting is a juggling act. It is a budgeting challenge to make sure that you are providing a life for children without great sacrifices. Further, finding the organisation and coordination between work, school, extra-curricular, friends and family is certainly a balancing act.
- Both Parents Will Never Get Along. Being amicable with your ex-spouse is not a given. It is a great challenge. We all need to work at it. Sometimes, making the relationship between you and your ex-spouse requires more effort than when you were married – you can’t yell at them and you have to bite your tongue instead of reacting. Credit must go to those who are able to have a civil, polite and respectful relationship with their ex-spouse in the interests of the children.
- Children of Divorce Will be Screwed Up. Children don’t always suffer as a result of divorce. Sometimes the children can enjoy a better-quality relationship with each parent. Children of single parents tend to be more motivated to succeed in life because they have seen the challenges and sacrifices their primary parent has made for the children’s benefit. Interestingly, former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was raised by a single mother and our current Prime Minister of Australia, Malcom Turnbull, was raised by his father from the age of 9 years – these men are living proof that the parenting you received doesn’t limit your dreams.
- “Divorced women want my husband.” Just because you are divorced and appreciate a strong, solid and respectful relationship, doesn’t mean that they want to jump into another relationship. Single parents aren’t home-wreckers and they don’t need a partner. In fact, many single parents feel that being in a relationship takes away from the quality time with their children. Too often, following a bad marriage, single parents set higher standards for a better-quality partner and role model for the children.
- You Can’t be Successful as a Single Parent. Your marital status doesn’t define your ability to be successful in your career. The definition of reaching the pinnacle of success is different for everyone. For me, being able to have a job that keeps me available for my children is a version of success. As with married families, the greatest luxury is being able to “buy time” with cleaners and gardeners to afford quality time with the children. Well-known Australians who have reached great success in their careers and are single parents include Juanita Phillips (ABC journalist/presenter and author) and Jacinta Tynan (ABC/Skye journalist and actress). The list of international celebrities who are able to continue with their stardom and love-on their children are endless… actress Michelle Williams (mother to Heath Ledger’s only child), Russell Crowe, Jamie Foxx and Mariah Carey.
- Others Know What it is like to be a Single Parent. Married couples who has a partner that travel for work or is a FIFO (fly in, fly out), do not really appreciate what it is like to be a single parent. Married couples still have the emotional support of their partner and they can rely on the partner’s income. A single parent is solely responsible for the wellbeing of the children and ensuring they have the finances to adequately provide for them. When a single parent needs a boost, there isn’t an ‘automatic’ person there for them.
- Single Parents Need Pity. Life is busy as a single parent. There isn’t time to have your own pity party. Life goes on – children still need to be fed, driven to school, clothes washed and the house cleaned, and get to work to provide for the children. When married parents say “I don’t know how you do it!” or “When I have a tough day, I think of you…” the reality is that often the marriage was far harder than life as a single parent and, now, life is overall better. What many single parents echo is that despite the married friends offering pity on their situation, they rarely offer any assistance. The resounding observation is that primary parent single fathers seem to receive sympathy for their situation and plight. However, primary parent single mums don’t usually receive the same compassion.
- Single Parents Get a Break When Their Children Are with Their Other Parent. Yes, when the children are with the other parent, the primary parent does have ‘time out’ from the children. However, it isn’t a break or a holiday. Just because the children are “out of sight” doesn’t mean they are “out of mind.” What is resounding with parents alike is that they are always thinking of their children. So, when the children are enjoying time with their other parent, the primary parent is running errands, getting ahead or prepared and catching up on needed sleep so that they can maximise quality time with the children when they return.
- Divorce is Catching. As a divorcee, friendships change. Some friends think that if they hang out with or allow their spouse to be around a divorced friend, that they too will get divorced. Divorce isn’t infectious! What happens to one couple in one relationship isn’t the determining factor in all relationships.
- Single Mums’ are Bad Parents. No matter whether you are a single mum, single dad or married parent, bad parenting happens be it occasionally or more regularly. Your marital status doesn’t define your ability to parent. Married couples can model bad parenting just as easily as single parents.
- Single Mum’s Use Child Support for Their Own Indulgences. Child support doesn’t cover the bare minimum of raising a child. The assumption is that mother’s in receipt of child support spend the money on handbags, injectables and other self-indulgent items. The reality is that raising a child from birth to 18 years of age costs between $450,000 - $110,000 (according to NATSEM). So, if a parent is able to afford personal luxuries after ensuring that the children are completely cared and satisfied in life, then credit to them!
By raising awareness to these fallacies, I hope that in society we all make a conscious effort not to repeat these statements while making every attempt to support all parents, married or single, alike.