Single parents are legends[Part ii]

In the previous article, I briefly described my personal experience as a product of single parenting. Without a doubt, my case is just the tip of an iceberg when compared to that of others.

While I think I grew up under a hard economic condition, my experience was nothing compared to what some others went through as children from a single-parent set up. Conversely, quite a number of children were lucky enough to be nurtured by parents who were financially buoyant to take care of their every need.

WOMEN FARE WORSE AS SINGLE PARENTS

Research has shown that women bear the responsibility of single parenting the most, which is because they are considered naturally as the primary care givers. Except in cases where the father experiences widowhood and is left to take care of the children, most men shy away from being singlehandedly responsible for the children’s upkeep.

The female gender is said to be more tender hearted and affectionate towards their offspring. They are therefore most likely to want to keep the children when the man is avoidably/unavoidably absent. This is the reason why the image of single mothers readily comes to mind whenever the name single parent is mentioned.

It’s common, in this part of the world, to hear people say that children from single parents always end up being recalcitrant and social menace. This stereotypic notion is prevalent because the African world view detests the idea of single parenting. The nuclear family is seen as the only ideal setting where healthy children can be raised.

Anything short of this standard is an anomaly. For instance, hardly had a spouse been bereaved than he/she is ‘counselled’ to remarry: You can’t train these children by yourself, they’ll say. You need a helping hand. Since men are considered sacred cows in most African societies,women who are single parents are often scapegoats and end up being stigmatized. Most of them are considered self-willed, immoral, and unworthy of respect.

So much is the stigma for single parents that it is reflective in the way many adverts and movies are scripted. Hardly will you find an advert where the lifestyle/activities of a single parent/mother are esteemed. Every advert relating to family has to revolve around the father, mother and the children. In most cases where the storyline of a movie revolves around the single parent, it’s usually stereotypical in nature hence, the child(ren) turn out to be wayward and street urchins.

WHAT IS SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE…

To say that all the children from single parents turn out fine is to tell a big lie. Some end up becoming hooligans and personae non gratae. There are instances of children who, no matter the diligence and care of the single parents, end up making a mess of their lives.

In the same vein, to say that every child brought up under the ‘ideal’ nuclear family setting turn out fine is to be miserly with the truth. Countless numbers of ‘proper parents’ products roam the street as miscreants and reprobates. Loving and caring parents brought some of them up.

Others happened to be raised by ‘proper parents’ who were always at loggerhead, fathers who physically or psychologically harass the mother and perhaps the children, couples that fail to cooperate to train the children as a unit. Bottom line, just as children from single parents have the tendency to go wayward, seeds from ‘proper parents’ can end up worse.

If what goes for the single parent also goes for the ‘proper parents’, it stands to reason that how a child turns out does not necessarily have to do with the singularity or plurality of the parent who brings him up. A child who is unruly or immoral does not have to be a product of single parenting. After all, instances of outstanding products of single parents have been cited earlier. There is much more to how a child turns out than whether he his raised by a single parent or ‘proper parents’.

THE REAL DEAL IN PARENTING

The issue is not the number of people that raise a child. Rather, it’s about the personality of the people involved, whether single parents or couples. In essence, the attitude of the caregiver(s) towards parenting is what determines how far the offspring will go.

Just as two loving and forward-thinking couples will do a good job at parenting, a single parent/single mother who is determined to give her child the best will do same no matter the daunting task. Conversely, it’s sometimes better to be trained by a single parent who can go the extra mile for the child than by couples who do not have a sense of commitment and responsibility.

While I do not advocate the practice of single parenting, I also do not appreciate the stigmatization of unintended single parents who are doing their best to give their children a good life. After all, not all couples in a nuclear family setting are responsible enough to do what is right and needful by their kids.

For all its worth, they deserve to be respected and treated fairly. The attitude and sense of responsibility of the individual(s) in charge of the upbringing of a child should be the yardstick for according respect and social recognition and not the status of the individual(s) as a single parent or ‘proper parents’/couples.

THANKS TO THEM

It takes a strong and enduring personality to take on the duties meant for two people and accomplish it successfully. The amount of emotional, physical, psychological, and material input the single parent puts into raising children is so much that one cannot afford to relegate them to the background in the scheme of things. The responsibilities of juggling maintaining a job, caring for the children and keeping up with household chores is overwhelming for them to be ostracized. Well-meaning single parents are legends!

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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