Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there ARE single parent families

Sometimes, I can wave it off. People are used to this way of thinking, I remind myself. But when confronted with it - or rather being ignored because of it - I have to take a stand.

I'm a single parent, and that's not going to change. I exist, my children exist, and we're here to stay.

I went to two seminars where the speaker's attitude towards single parents was either negative or entirely absent. I'm not sure which one is worse.

In the financial seminar, the speaker was trying very hard to be inclusive; maybe you're married with children, or maybe you're single without children. Over and over, those were the choices. Here's what you do if you're married with children, and here's what you do if you're single without. Okay, then maybe I should just GO because clearly, I don't exist in your mind.

In the seminar on education, the speaker was addressing some of the challenges children may be facing; divorce, death, or drug use. Yes, folks, coming from a "broken home" is just as bad as having a dead parent. There are a number of divorced parents who interact with their exes just fine and both parents are still involved in their children's lives. But one of them may just as well have died. And if a spouse did pass away, then you don't count to the speaker from above because you're no longer married with children or single without.

This is 2011!! And yet, still, somehow, we can't get away from thinking about families in one way. Or if we do happen to acknowledge a difference, then it's an acknowledgment of irreparable damage.

I agree with the speaker that said drug use can be devastating to young children. Which is why I initiated the divorce! And I refuse to believe that we are hopelessly damaged because of it. In fact, the repair began with that particular dissolution. (And disillusion.)

I didn't say anything to either speaker. It wasn't the time or the place. But it's been bugging me ever since. It can be frustrating at times to live in a world where so many refuse to acknowledge my existence.


Tara R. said...

Amazing that even now, single parents are ignored or vilified... neither is a justifiable option.

Debbie said...

I SOOOOO hear you! If I listened to all of that "stuff" out there I would be convinced that my son was doomed to be a failure. He comes from a broken home, has a full-time work outside of the home mother and went to day care (gasp) from age 6 mos. Plus add in that his dad was an addict and pedophile and killed himself and it looks hopeless for him! But interestingly enough he is loved, is thriving, is smart and is well-adjusted!!! People should be more careful with stereotypes...most of us don't fit into them!

BigLittleWolf said...

Wow. It is still out there, isn't it. The lack of awareness of what solo/single parenting means - on every dimension.

Considering our numbers, it hardly seems like we should be invisible.

Mandy said...

Definitely still out there - is it because these speakers don't have first-hand experience so don't have the knowledge/language to talk inclusively? Is it because we complicate the picture? Life just isn't as simple as a mom, dad, two kids and a white picket fence - it never has been.

SolveDivorce said...

I am tired of people insisting that divorce is bad for children. Yes, it is traumatic and difficult, however I have always maintained that living in a safe, stable, calm home with one parent is preferable to living in a volatile, dangerous, angry home with two parents.

Melanie said...

I share the same frustrations. I think all our lives are better now because of the divorce. Truly. My ex can live the life he prefers to live, I don't have to live with substance abuse near financial ruin, my daughter can have two happy parents instead of a house full of cold silence. I want to be a role model for her, and be with a man who cherishes me so she can see that in me. Because she wasn't going to see her dad behave in such a way.

Obviously that speaker is clueless and has no personal experience with divorce and children. But people who know, KNOW. ya know?

kudos to you, mama!

Blue Shoe Farm said...

Thanks for this. I get frustrated (at what I consider) narrow-minded scopes of experience that cause others to view my single momhood as a big ol' scarlet letter on me and my children. I ditto what Melanie says above... I did not want my marriage with its silence and passive aggressive weirdness to be what my children knew of marriage. Now they have two happier parents.