I have a question to ask you. Perhaps one that may be very personal to some of you.
Who is classified as a single parent? When does a parent get to say “Yea, but I’m a single parent.”
I know people who I would consider single parents. For the sake of this post I will say single mothers but I do understand there are equally single fathers out there. To me they are the one and only for their children. They are the sole provider of shelter, love, birthday presents, and bedtime stories. They are the only person who has a say in their child’s medical care, their child’s chauffeur, chef and nurse when they don’t feel well. The single parent doesn’t get a break because there is no one to tag in. There is no one to sit next to them at parent-teacher conferences, no one to bounce ideas off of for raising their child, no one they have to answer to for parenting decisions. The single parent is just that, the single person taking on the role of both parents.
To me the single parent is just that because they have lost a spouse, the other parent has walked away or perhaps just doesn’t even live close enough to share in the parenting. There are a multitude of reasons. These people, I applaud. These are the men and women that I look at and I don’t know how the hell they do it.
Now, I know some who call themselves a single parent and this is where the problem lies. To me, they aren’t a single parent. To me they are 1/2 of a co-parenting team even though that other parent may not be in the household. Perhaps this is because of a separation or divorce, but that other parent DOES parent. That other parent takes their scheduled time with the kids, pays their financial part, does their fair share of driving the kids to and from things. This other parent helps with medical decisions, is there for conferences, is a back-up to stay home with a sick kiddo if you can’t. Hell, you may even still have access to that extra set of Grandparents that can babysit! To me, a divorce, with appropriate co-parenting does not make you a single parent. It makes you a single person.
Am I wrong? Am I wrong when my friends throw down the “single parent” card to want to roll my eyes? A card that seems to be thrown down while their children are happily with their father for the weekend and the Mom has the childless time to come and meet me for a glass of wine, that she can afford due to alimony and child support. Hell, she could even go home and take a nap afterwards. A card that somehow dismisses the role their father plays in their life. Meanwhile, in my head, I think of all the parents that seem to be real single parents that are not afforded any of these luxuries.
I know every situation is different and it isn’t a black and white answer. I’m going by my own personal experience for the people in my life. Perhaps I need to be more forgiving of their circumstance. Perhaps I need to shut-up and thank God I’m not in their shoes at all. I know when my Husband is working long ass hours in the summer and not seeing his kid for a week straight I say things like “solo parenting” or feeling like a “single parent.” Do I honestly mean or know what that is like? No.
So help me out here. What do you consider a single parent?