Children grow content in a wholesome family setting where both parents take ownership in the upbringing of the sprout. They thrive when parents are able to actively promote their positive growth and development.
Lately, there has been an unforeseen rise in the number of single-parent families. Such families encounter challenges in duly raising their children. Statistics suggest that one out of four children now grow up in a one-parent home. Nearly 38% are divorced parents, 35% remain unmarried, 4% are widowed, and 4% are long-distance couples.
Without a proper lookout, kids raised under a single parent can drive right through a pitfall. Psychological wellbeing is triggered resulting in isolation, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. Several sacrifices are made by the parent. Additionally, children who have endured the agony of their parents’ divorce are likely to suffer from depression, emotional stress, and difficulties in school. As per a 2014 poll, 75% of single parents are stigmatized about their condition.
As per studies, children in single-parent homes are a lot more distressed. Also, depression is thrice as prevalent in adolescents from single-parent families than in ones living with two parents. They are more likely to involve themselves in criminal activities as well. Moreover, they are eleven times more likely to exhibit violent behaviour.
Commonly, most single-parent homes are headed by single mothers. Compared to single fathers, single mothers face a different set of challenges. Women do have an expansive support system and are closer to their musketeers and family. Yet, single motherhood is tough because women make lower wages and have to work longer hours, leaving them with comparatively lesser time for their children. Also, 70% of single mothers live in poverty, earning less than $13,000 annually leading to constant financial suffering. However, they are more nurturing and provide brilliant support for growth.
On the contrary, single fathers have better positions in the workforce with fewer economic issues. Even so, they lack communication which usually steers children towards indulging in drug usage and pre-mature sex. Contrary to popular beliefs that fathers are usually stricter than mothers, it has been observed empirically that single fathers are less likely to be a disciplinarian than single mothers.
In order to nourish better, single parents should manoeuvre resources and information that lend hands to struggling parents. Organizations such as ‘Parents Without Partners’ and ‘Solo Parenting Alliance’ offer programs, educational, and recreational activities. ‘Parents Place’ is a website that provides information and text services to single parents.
Besides, it is no longer necessary to have a partner to start a family. Science has expanded our horizons and has given us options. People become single parents through sperm donations or adoptions. Hertz (2006), argues that single parents by choice might have remained single due to circumstances, but still had a strong desire to become a parent. It also offers a different perspective on single parenthood. They combine work and their parental roles in a much better way since they are better prepared from the beginning itself. In 2021, the reproductive health company Modern Fertility and a wedding registry website surveyed thousands of people on having kids after marriage and 27% said: “I don’t feel like I need a partner to become a parent” resulting in more openness to ‘single parent by choice’ as a parenting path.
In a world for pairs, raising a family alone which is supposedly done as a couple is courageous. Globally, especially delving into India, single parents, especially mothers are harshly judged and stigmatized. Data says 7.5% of households are run by single parents in India. Of these, 77.03% are single mothers numbering 13 million while 22.97% are single fathers. Nevertheless, single parents navigate several hurdles and curves when upbringing their child, but do they have enough support?
Sujata Parashar, in her latest book, ‘Going Solo: Raising Happy Kids’, explores these hurdles and curves single parents face, focussing on the rise of single-parent households in India through her experiences with fifty single parents.
“Around the world, we are witnessing concerted efforts to deny women’s agency and their right to make their own decisions in the name of protecting ‘family values’. Yet, we know through research and evidence that there is no standard definition of family, nor has there ever been,” said UN Women’s Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Written by: Mansi Gupta
Edited by: Ria Shridher