As a single parent, I hear parents all of the time saying that they understand what it means to be a single parent. They feel they understand because aspects of their lives, parenting, or relationships make them feel like they are in fact single parents.
I feel that the label “single parent” is a silent badge of honor. I feel that to don this moniker is to take on the tremendous responsibilities that are wrapped in it. This means that you are the only parent who can wake up in the middle of the night to tend to your sick child. There is no one you can call; no one who can be a soothing voice on the other end of the line. There is no one to complain to that understands that is just the way your son is. There is no extra paycheck going into the account to pay for braces and soccer practice. There is no one else to borrow a car from in the morning when yours breaks down, or who makes sure that there is money going into your retirement fund. There is no extra pair of hands and eyes, so you can just run to the store to get milk without packing up the kids. When it snows or the grass needs to be cut or something heavy lifting needs to be done or a wound needs to be tended or your daughter gets her period and you don’t have the right perspective, there is no other person to constantly fill that void. To say you are a single parent when you are married to someone is both insensitive and uninformed. So I created a list that I feel kindly outlines when you are truly not a single parent:
- The other parent travels for work and often leaves for a few days at a time each month.
- The other parents does not do chores around the house or any of the cooking.
- The other parent lives in a different city for work during the week, but is home one the weekends.
- The other parent works really long hours.
- The other parents doesn’t seem to share the same level of commitment that you have for your children.
- You live with a significant other who is not the child’s father and he/she doesn’t take any responsibility for the child. (If this is your scenario, you may want to do some careful thinking.)
Again, the title of Single Parent is one that needs to be used with caution. It is extremely difficult to be one, and if that isn’t you, please refrain from using that title. We would greatly appreciate it.