Two weeks ago, Tanzanian actress Elizabeth Michael was jailed for two years for the death of a fellow actor Stephen Kanumba who died in 2012.
A few days later, I heard a woman remark that the rising rate of single motherhood was to blame for situations such as Michael’s. Just days before, I’d heard a man suggest that if women stopped having sex with men who leave, crime rates would go down.
Single mothers have become easy targets. They have been blamed for rising levels of moral decadence, the growing rate of crime, murder rates, drought… name it. We heap the blame on the marital status of mothers or women’s lack of reluctance to get married.
Now, to be fair, parenting is hard. It literally takes a village to raise a child. The child who grows up with more than one adult in the home is likely to have access to more resources like time and money and is thus likely to have a smoother start to life. I get the moral police’s need to push for marriage before motherhood.
A little. That said, I think that blaming the women who are doing all they can to raise their offspring for all our problems as a society is counterproductive.
First, that assumption that if a woman is a single mother then she must have had casual, reckless sex is wrong. So is the spite society feels for single mothers who turn down marriage offers. We are oblivious to the fact that loveless marriages occasioned by unplanned pregnancies aren’t any good for the children involved.
COULD TURN OVER BLAME
We could turn over the blame and heap it on the absentee father instead. After all, she is the parent who stayed and he is the one who left but it’s too easy and blame is not the answer to our problems. We can do better for our children than point fingers at this parent or the other and pray that men will come in and rescue single mothers.
Let’s hold men more accountable in their roles. But also let’s find solutions other than blaming or shaming. Providing psycho-social support for parents raising children on their own would be a good place to start.
There are still schools in this country who will not admit children being raised by single parents; other schools do, but will not give this parent any positions at the PTA or even invite them to speak during career day.
We give single parents no support, shun them and then turn around and accuse them of raising their children wrong.
Having better employment policies would also be an effective solution. A work environment where solo parents can raise their children and till be able to financially provide for them.
Tax breaks from the government would also ensure that children growing up with just one parents have access to a little more resources. Let’s stop with the blame.