There has been a lot of press comment about single parents lately, mainly due to changes in the benefits system and how that affects them. The tone of the pieces haven’t really bothered me but some of the comments posted by ignorant readers of the online media have been astonishingly vitriolic. The term “single mother” seems to inspire people to think the worst so I thought a dose of reality was in order to banish the myth of the benefit scrounging teenager who got knocked up to get a council flat.
Fact – 26% of families in Britain are run by a single parent. That is over 2 million families.
Fact – Less than 2% of single parents are teenagers.
Fact – The median age of single parents is 38.1 years.
Fact – 49% of single parents had their children within marriage, they are either widowed, separated or divorced.
Fact – Single parents whose children are aged over 11 have an employment rate of 71% which is comparable to mothers who are part of a couple.
I don’t doubt that there a percentage of single parents out there who are bleeding the benefits system and raising the next generation of young hooligans but there are plenty of couples doing exactly the same thing.
For most people single parenthood is a major curveball from life and they catch it and run with it as best they can. All of the single parents I have met are decent, hard-working people raising decent, well-balanced children.
Interestingly, some research undertaken by the Institute of education at the University of London in 2009 stated:
“parental separation by itself is not considered predictive of poor outcomes in children. Parental conflict has been identified as a key mediating variable in producing negative outcomes in children. A comparison between couple families experiencing high levels of conflict with single parent families found that children fared less well in conflicted couple families, demonstrating that family functioning has a greater impact than family structure in contributing to child outcomes”
It seems that no matter what your circumstances it’s the way you behave that will impact your children and being single, married, divorced or anywhere in between doesn’t change your core values.
It’s very easy to say don’t judge but the reality is we all do it to some degree in different ways. However, next time you read an article or meet a ‘single parent’ judge the person and not their circumstances because most of them are really rather normal. 🙂
- Single parenthood, tougher or just different? (parentalchoiceuk.com)
- Single Parents: The Truth Behind Cultural Stigmas (everydayfamily.com)
- Ways to Cope as a Newly Single Parent – Parenting (everydayfamily.com)
- Budget case study – the single parent (spinbrighton.org)
- The Lowdown on Single Parent Households in The US (business2community.com)
- It’s tough to be a single parent and the government does nothing to help | Suzanne Moore (guardian.co.uk)