It’s time to quit stigmatizing single parents and start acknowledging them.

I was a single parent when being a single parent wasn’t okay.

Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash

Well, it was for me; I was a male single parent.  I routinely got praised for … well, existing, I guess.  It never made sense to me, because the same people who praised me would also bemoan all those single mothers out there.

While the stigma has (largely) disappeared, the difficulties remain.

So much of our society is still centered around the idea of the two-parent (and one-income) model, especially when it comes to kids.  Scouts. PTA meetings. Fundraisers.  All the things that were pointed out in Bad Moms are even more a problem when you’re a single parent…

…and yes, even if the other parent is still in the picture.

Let’s make something clear: Even if you’re “coparenting”, or have joint custody (of either type), or even if you just have visitation, you’re still a single parent if you’re not in a marriage or are a widow or widower.

I’m saying this as someone who has experienced both “very” single parenting (sole custody) and “shared custody” single parenting.

As Jackie Pilossoph wrote:

When you are a single parent, you are all alone during your parenting
time. There is no partner there to bounce things off of, ask advice on
how to handle certain things, deal with the kids fighting with each
other, handle an extreme kid meltdown or even to deal with the mouse in
the house that has your kids standing on chairs screaming.

Claiming that a co-parenting arrangement or joint custody doesn’t make someone a “real” single parent is idiotic.  That’s like saying that a married couple with kids aren’t “real” parents because grandparents or siblings live nearby to help out.

Likewise, saying that you’re a (divorced) single parent only implies that you’re parenting the children.  It does not imply that the other partner(s) are not

Relationships, divorce, and parenting are freaking hard enough.  There’s plenty of things that require our time and attention.  Creating controversy over whether or not someone is a “single parent” or “divorced parent” or whatever is completely unnecessary… and distracts from the whole point of there being joint custody (or co-parenting): providing for the children.

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5 Comments

  1. January 19, 2018

    I think a lot of the difference in how we approach the single Dad/single Mom thing comes down to the way society has long winked at men "tomcatting around" while we sneer at the "loose woman." Responsibility for pregnancy–and avoiding it–has (in society's eyes) been on the woman. For a long time, you didn't see single Dads, thus it was 'taking responsibility' and 'being a man' and 'doing right by the child' where a single mom was a 'slut' or 'made bad choices'. It's crap.

    And I give all the single parents great credit. There have been plenty of times where I've had to walk out of the room because of the frustrations of children. Being able to say to my wife, "You deal with this", or, being able to say to her, "I'll deal with this, you take a break" has been huge for our collective sanity (and I've got good kids!).

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