I have been a single mother for a few years now and in that time I overheard some very disturbing comments being made against people in my situation. I try not to listen to them because I know that they are untrue and that single parents should be regarded as super-heros as it is one of the hardest jobs in the world, especially if like me you have no family around to help with child care.
Maybe you're a single parent too or if you are not, chances are you know one. The biggest things that single parents deal with is feeling alone and misunderstood. I also feel left out/different. Single parenting is lonely and I admit I have to fight daily with feelings of jealously towards 'happy' families and that feeling like you're not worth being loved. Everyone around me seems to be in a happy relationship and I am always the single one at the table during family meals out.
It is easy to judge someone before knowing their story and background. There is always a good reason why a person is in the situation they are in today so it bugs me that people are so quick to make assumptions nowadays. Nobody likes to be judged, labelled and misunderstood, it's a horrible feeling. It is easy to say to me that I always look sad and begin to list a ton of things that I have gone wrong in my life. I know what went wrong and there is no need to judge me for the mistakes I have made. There is also no need to make assumptions. Yes, both my children are from the same father (a question I have been asked many times), yes I was in a happy stable relationship with a good career when I made the decision to have children, and no I didn't ask/want to be a single mum. Please please don't judge, judging people doesn't help anyone.
I know that there are thousands of single parents out there and I am so glad to have been able to meet others in similar situations to me through blogging. It why I still want to carry on and I really value all the support and encouragement I get when times are hard.
I wanted to list a few common assumptions people tend to make towards me as a single mum:
- I am desperate to find a guy, one with a fat wallet, because I just can't be without a partner. Oh and some have even presumed that I want to steal their husbands because I am so desperate. It is also unfair to say that I need a man in my life to be happy. When people say 'why aren't you putting the effort in on the dating websites?' it makes me feel like I am letting them down. Why do I need to be in a relationship? In my opinion, I am better off as a single parent.
- Assume that I am so extremely poor that I cannot pay my side of the bill when we all eat out/stop for a coffee together. Also its kind of not OK to tell me that I shouldn't be buying myself and the children new clothes, having days outs, taking a trip to the theatre, and that I should be limiting trips to the supermarket. Nobody wants to discuss their personal finances and have people tell them how to manage them unless they are working for the bank of course.
- Some people think the complete opposite to the last point which is that I am rolling in tons of money because I get CSA and benefits. This really bugs me because its far from the truth. I don't get a lot from the government and hardly anything from CSA. When I tell people the amount of help I actually get from CSA they tend to be horrified.
- I don't work and I just sit on my bum all day watching Jeremy Kyle with a bag full of cookies. Actually I do work, yes it's only part time but I don't think we could have the lifestyle we have today if i didn't work. When I get home I wish I could fall onto the sofa but there is just so much to do that I don't normally sit down until the children go to bed. Just because I am a single parent that doesn't mean I am lazy.
- I sleep about because I have two children with no father around. This is what I feel like people think of me all the time when in fact I haven't had a partner in two years and that was my husband. I have never had a one night stand and I was in loving relationship when the children were born. Unfortunately relationships break down through differences, not all are because one partner was unfaithful. My relationship broke down because it was better for the children to separate.
- Single mums can't be hired because of their demanding lifestyles and family responsibilities. My previous employer hated me for being a single mum and made life difficult for me. I left because of the discrimination I felt and I wasn't the only mum there who felt forced to hand in their notice. When I went for interviews for a new job, many employers expressed their concern that I was a single mum and so wouldn't be able to fulfil their expectations for new employees. I guess they felt I was going to take so much time off, be unable to work shift patterns or be too tired to work my best. I think this is extremely unfair because parents know hard work/long hours and want to work to provide a good life for their children.
- A single mum's child will grow up to be a menace to society. This statement can be true for children growing up in both single parent homes or two parent homes. There are so many examples where children have come from single parent homes and have gone on to succeed in life. Just because their parents are no longer together, that doesn't mean that they are going to fail in life. Single parents are able to love and nurture their children just like married couples can.
I know this was a bit of a long rant but I just wanted to get all my anger out onto a blog post about how I have been treated these past few years. Hopefully this post will relate to other single parents out there and encourage them to ignore any negative assumptions they might experience along their journey.
Have you heard any assumptions lately about single parents that you feel should be put to rest?