Single Parents are legends [Part i]

While it’s ideal to emerge from a typical nuclear family, it’s not a crime to be trained by a single parent.

Ask Barak Obama, Angelina Jolie, Price Williams, Jane Fonda and even the biblical personage Timothy.

Thanks to the worldview prevalent in the African and especially Nigerian society, single parents, who are often times single mothers, tend to be victimized. This situation isn’t surprising as it’s easy to cast aspersions at people when one has never gone through their kind of experience. After all, only the man who wears the shoe knows where it hurts most.

SINGLE PARENTS: A DESCRIPTION

Who exactly is a single parent? One who is saddled with the sole responsibility of training a child or children from the early stages of life to maturity without (or little) support from the other party – either man or woman. The single parent plays the dual role of a father and mother in the life of his or her child(ren). Such parent is one the child turns to whenever he/she has a need.

One should point out the fact that there are two categories of single parentsthe unintended single parent and the willing single parent. The unintended single parents are those who, due to unforeseen circumstances, happen to train their kids in the absence of the other party/parent. Such cases manifest when one of the parents die, when the need for divorce arises, abandonment, and also as a result of unpleasant unforeseen occurrences e.g. war outbreak.

On the other hand, just as the name implies, the willing single parents set out to raise kids without the support of the other party. This set of single parents desire to have kids but do not wish to raise them in a nuclear-family-setting. Many of those in this category happen to be women. They get to achieve their aim through different means: Some simply adopt children and raise them, some engage in sexual intercourse and plan to take full/sole responsibility for the child that results from the encounter, while others search for sperm donors and go for artificial insemination.

I’M ALL FOR THE UNINTENDED SINGLE PARENT!

The unintended single parenting is my ideal case in point and I intend to expound my view of single parenting from that perspective.

THE WRITER AS CASE STUDY

In my own case, for instance, I grew up knowing my mother as my only parent. In this capacity, she served as my sole provider, private tutor, spiritual guide, life coach, and personal adviser. Being a low-income-earning civil servant (a teacher), she didn’t have ample resources with which to meet my every needs.

To make matters more interesting, she was the first born of her family hence zero luxury of having older siblings to fall back on. Nevertheless, she gave me the best possible: A qualitative albeit unsophisticated academic background, three-square meal of whatever the Lord provides, a moral cum spiritual upbringing, and fair supply of my material needs.

I’ll have to write volumes of books in order to share accounts of sacrifices she made just for me to have a good life. There were occasions where she had to do without a meal just so I could eat feed well. In those occasions, she had to lie that she was not hungry or something.

What she wasn’t saying was that whatever meal there was was barely enough for one person. Many at times, she had to be strong for me although she was either ill, depressed or emotionally down. She was understandably protective of me and was extra-careful about who I mingled with or stay with. Funny and good enough, I didn’t have the luxury of much extra parental circles.

Whenever I wasn’t with my mother, I was either with her siblings who lived together at the time or with a family friend whose children I grew up with. The children of these family friends provided me the peer-group platform where I could mix with children of my own age.

IT ISN’T EASY

Was the parenting process a walk in the park for my mother? No! It was an uphill task. There were moments of vicissitudes. Now that I think of it, I believe the most trying period of my upbringing was during my teenage years with its manifestations of youthful exuberance. At that point, a child feels on top of the world and believes he is free to do what he pleases. I didn’t make her already difficult task less easy for her at different points. Sometimes, I was wilful; at other times, I was unruly. Yet, in all this, she persevered, through fervent prayers, constant counsel, and appropriate disciplines for offences.

Would I have turned out better under the ideal nuclear family setting? I don’t think so. Perhaps there are some life lessons I could have learnt or family-life experiences I could have garnered – perhaps. However, the idea that there is a gap that could have been filled if I grew up with both parents is debatable. To be candid, I’m of the opinion that my manner of upbringing was a blessing in disguise.

Written by Ayansola Ibukun Ademola

Ayansola Ibukun Ademola is a graduate of English. Among other things, he is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader. You may reach him via

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