Let’s tell the truth about single parenting

Friday June 15 2018

Parenting solo is not easy. PHOTO | FILE

Parenting solo is not easy. PHOTO | FILE 

JOAN THATIAH
By JOAN THATIAH
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Single parenting is a prickly subject especially in recent times. For this reason, let me just say here that I have at one point in my life being a solo parent. I must also acknowledge that it takes a lot of will and effort to keep up with both parenting roles while maintaining your job, social life and your sanity.

That said, I have a problem with a lot of single parents today – both men and women. Especially the social media savvy ones. All day long, we have a constant flow of posts, photos and videos depicting the act of parenting solo as easy, enviable, glamorous even.

While it is possible to live a happy and fulfilled life while being a solo parent, the truth is there is nothing glamorous about it. It is demanding of time, energy and emotion. It isn’t even about the money as some people seem to believe.

Being the only adult in the home, being the only one present at school events, being the only one catering to a child’s emotional needs, it’s a tough job.

If you have been parenting solo and you are finally reaping the benefits, there is nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate these milestones on social media. It is however not okay to lead others around you to believe that as long as you have money or can pay the bills, then a child does not need his other parent.

IT'S NOT EASY

It is 2018 so I am not going to tell you that a man or woman must marry the person they procreate with. But even as the gender gap in the work place is very slowly closing, the parenting roles are still different and very distinct.

No matter how much money you make as a woman, there are still things that you can’t teach your son or your daughter. The opposite is also true.

So tell these young men and women who are not yet parents and are following your life online the truth. Parenting solo is not easy. Tell them that while there is nothing wrong with being an unmarried parent, you will be taking away from your child if you deliberately keep the other parent out of their lives – that is unless the other parent is unfit.

And stop believing that fatherhood or motherhood must be earned from you. That the other parent must do this or the other for you to be allowed to see their child. Think of it from the child’s perspective. Having access to both parents is their right. Don’t take it away from them.

You may not like the other parent, but because you chose this person to be your child’s other parent, then it is your duty to allow them space to play this role. If they do not want to, actively seek out mentors of that gender for your child.

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