Challenging the media stereotypes

(82 Posts)
poshsinglemum Sun 01-Feb-09 19:42:43

Hi there,
Is anyone fed up with the way that the media portrays single parents and think that it affects the way you see yourself in relation to society as a whole? I am!
I'm only just beginning to feel really proud of myself for being single mum to my georgeous dd who is now 7 months old. I did feel ashamed that I wasn't married but then I just thought there is no such thing as the 'perfect' family and i should be proud that I am strong enough to take this path.
What really bugs me though is the way that the media churns out goverment statistics about how children from broken homes are more likely to suffer from dissafection blah de blah de bloody blah. I had to write to the Sunday times about a certain article in todays News Review that went on about depressed single mums coming home from work to struggle with the children and how this is further failing our children.
I mean- excuse me. I am not depressed thank you very much. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound. It's like saying 'you are crap becasue you can't make your relationship work and your children will grow up to be crap too.' This article was written by a happily married woman but she is soooo judgemental.
How can we change this scapegoating and stereotyping set up by the media or is it impossible due to some patriarchal agenda? How can I ignore the media and other people's comments about single mums and 'broken' families? I feel very whole and fullfilled as a single mum myself.
Anyone care to join me in my rant/campaign?

mamas12 Sun 01-Feb-09 20:15:56

Yes I'll join you I had to turn the news off today because there was a report on how children from 'broken families' are less likely to thrive and be disadvantaged FUCK OFF is what I think. My kids are better off having two happy homes that one Unhappy one end of. I hate the way they put us down. It's predjudiced and is discrimminating.

N1 Sun 01-Feb-09 20:29:53

I consider myself a lone parent even though my son lives with his mother.

If you read the article and separate the individual points, there are just a few points in the content.

The one point mentioned in your post is a broken family. I don't think the fact can be argued. After a separation or divorce, the family is broken.

The question about children being harmed by broken families is really a question.

If one parent suffers under the hand of the other parent, the child snatchers are to quick to get involved and steal your children and then accuse you as parent of failing to protect your children for not separating. Then when you have separated, you get accused of not being able to choose appropriate partners for relationships - so you never get your children back - even if the children want to come back to you.

The media might show lone parents to be bad, but are lone parents really that bad? They can be, but not necessarily. A child can only be "broken" if the person caring for the child damages the child. I know a fair few parents who do a brilliant job of bringing their children up alone. Some parents don't have involvement with the child's absent parent. Usually the absent parents choice.

I doubt I would be critical of the media for highlighting broken families. I think there is a lot more lone parent/absent parent problems in the UK than what people know about. Those problems need to be highlighted.

In some cases the ex might be a problem and in other cases the resident parent might be the problem. The quickest way to get people talking is to make a big issue about it in the news.

lessonlearned Sun 01-Feb-09 20:48:20

Not all one parent families exist due to relationship problems. Why consider them to be broken?

mamas12 Sun 01-Feb-09 20:49:56

And Fuck Off to you too n1 you again have missed the point of this thread. It's to challenge sterotypes. You my little dumkopf live up to all yours I'm afraid, yet again doubletalk from you just baffles.
Families are not 'broken',I am not a lone parent my x hasn't died, he is still able to provide financially and emotional for the children.
'the child snatchers' wtf???
Get out of your pity pit and get some help.

Now let's start this thread proper and challenge those sterotypes

poshsinglemum Sun 01-Feb-09 20:54:07

In some ways I do agree with you N1. I don't think that my situation is optimum for my child's well being and I do think that some parents like my ex are wrong not to take responsibilty for their own children. I do think that the article had a lot of very positive things to say about child rearing such as unconditional love. (Surely that hgoes without saying.) Also as a school teacher, I can see taht often children are mollcoddled and that parents could do with being more fair and firm with their children rather than trying to be best mates with them. However, this has nothing to do with marital status. I am also in agreement with the point that if parents do seperate it is better for the children if they do it amicably.
However, it is the drip, drip, drip of the media reportage that has influenced the opinion of the general public. I did feel terribly stigmatised. Before I became a single mum I often heard people(mostly men I might add) complain about how their money was funding girls who 'got pregnant so they could get a council house.' Why are there no articles saying 'Well done single parents for doing such a hard job regardless of difficult circumstances' ? Why are there no articles celebrating children who were brought up by single mums and have done exceptionlally well such as Brack Obama? It is teh way taht the reportage is biased that annoys me - not the fact that our plight is highlighted. rarely do I see articles taht suggest a woman or man has done the right thing by leaving an abusive partner.
I know I sound like a real feminist but sometimes I think that it suits the male agenda to diss single parents. Then they don't have to take responsibilty for their sexual misendevors. They can use marriage as a form of control. Oh - how cinical and disenchanted I have become! Mabe I am more upset than I realise about being a single parent!
I do not think that the term 'broken family' is helpful or acurate. Why does a family have to have two parents necessarily? It's what I wanted but it hasn't worked out. I still give dd 100% love and support. That love will never be broken. I could have a partner but totally dissrespect my dd. (I necer would do that) In my eyes that is a broken home. If you are a single parent offering 100% love thejn I don't think that your family is broken. My dd has lovely grandparents, cousins, auntyies and uncles etc. 'Broken' is such a negative term. I prefer the term 'seperated' families or alternative families. Anyone else got any euphenisms other phrases that could be used instead?

poshsinglemum Sun 01-Feb-09 20:56:02

mollycoddled. Atrocious spelling tonight folks!

poshsinglemum Sun 01-Feb-09 20:59:30

However, In contradiction to something I have said, it is often very difficult for people to be amicable with ex partners otherwise they would not be an ex. The battered and the abused for example. My ex wanted me to abort our daughter. how can I be amicable with someone who wanted me to do something so ghastly?
He buggered off and I am the one who gets the blame for loving my child unconditionally. But oh no- I am painted as a feckless chavvy hussy. That's how the media paint women like me.

brazenhussy Sun 01-Feb-09 21:01:04

Yes, I'd like to join!!

I am a single mum to 4 young DC and my children have never been happier than since my Dh and I split. My 14 and 11 year olds are very high achievers academically (younger two are too young to judge yet)

Our house is happy and full of laughter now. We all really enjoy each others company - cook together, share the housework etc. We've even had a couple of cheap weekends away together; something that would never have happened under DH dictatorship.

I work from home as a childminder and my own DC help me with the children I mind and I give them pocket money in return.

At the weekends they visit their Dad who now realises what a crap dad he used to be and gives them 100% attention for the first time ever. They spend the money they have earned during the week and they feel very grown up (also stops DH constantly reminding me how much it costs to take them out angry

I have never felt happier and am so proud of how things are now. I have also never felt closer to my kids and better prepared for our future.

How can any of the above been seen as a negative?

AnarchyAunt Sun 01-Feb-09 21:01:21

Oh N1 [sigh]

My DD and I are a family, and we are not 'broken' angry

We have a fantastic network of friends, who love us and share some wonderful times and places with us. We have my parents and brothers, who are the best GPs/uncles DD could wish for, who love her and take such joy and pride in her.

Her father on the other hand - his parents are still together, but I see the dogs dinner they have made of bringing up their DC (their daughter is a heroin addict and prostitute, their son a serial father) and wonder how that is somehow 'better', simply because they did not divorce?

AnarchyAunt Sun 01-Feb-09 21:04:10

poshsinglemum - that's right, the parent who stays and who picks up the pieces is to blame, according to so much of what you hear/read hmm

Crap really, innit?

poshsinglemum Sun 01-Feb-09 21:06:26

Hi mama12- I agree with your points.

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Sun 01-Feb-09 22:07:34

I'm just going to cut and paste a rant I put on another thread:

Being a LP gave me the time and energy and importantly, the humility, to face up to my own psychological inadequacies. I'd been in such denial that my childhood had affected me, that I was blind to the fact that anyone who had got involved with a man like my XP in the first place, must have had “ishoos” . While I was with him, I could kid myself that we were a “normal” family, that the fact that I’d come from an abusive home hadn’t had any long term effect on me. Becoming part of a marginalised and despised group made me re-assess if there was any particular reason why I’d decided to have children with a man who was very obviously never going to be able to be a proper partner or father.

It made me understand how emotionally unhealthy I’d been and it has made me gain insight into my (bad) choices. It’s also meant that instead of struggling in denial to present a brave happy front to the world, I’ve sought counselling and found out how to be emotionally healthy and happy and to pass that on to my children. Whenever I hear David Cameron and his ilk going on about “broken families” I seethe and rage – he’s talking about MY family, which was broken all the time I was with my xp. When I became a LP, I began the process of fixing my family – it isn’t broken anymore, it’s bloody fixed thank you very much, and me being a lone parent isn’t a symptom of dysfunction and inadequacy, it’s a symptom of me being healed. Unlike me, my children are growing up in a happy, functional family where they are being taught to take ownership of their feelings and responsibility for their behaviour. I’m bloody proud that I’ve been the first one for generations in my family to break a cycle of abuse and when I hear those fucking tories talking about my family as “broken” because I didn’t continue the cycle of dysfunction and denial, it fills me with disgust and sadness that they can't see how their blinkered view of what families should be, promotes a broken-ness they don't recognise, because it's safely hidden in a nice nuclear family.

mamas12 Sun 01-Feb-09 22:24:59

Yes i agree the word broken is not right. Broken implies something that needs fixing and my eyes my family has been fixed thankyou by divorce. (just like bella)
There are loads of marriages that are broken in my experience what are the media saying about them , stay together for the sake of the children, when research has shown that that is one of the worst things you could do to your children.
Let us all try and come up with a better word for the media and society at large to use shall we, what about dual parenting (no not duel ha ha)or just plain old PARENTING

littlemissflylady Sun 01-Feb-09 23:03:37

hi! i would like to join. they are teaching in schools nurseries etc that families come in all shapes and sizes etc. but yet the media are the one's pulling single parents apart.the one who stays around is portayed as being inadequate and fulfilling the needs of themselves before their childs...what a complete load of rubbish. my Ds and i ahve a great life, he gets my full attention, we have family around us who genuinely love us and are not around for reasons only known to themselves!
Yes, find another word, because my family is by no means broken. plus all statitics are S**T, my mum was a single parent ( divorce) and neither myself or either of my 2 brothers are broken or disfunctional in anyway...and all have good educataional background, work and like some i have met we are all emotionally stable!

mamas12 Sun 01-Feb-09 23:19:47

I actually wish my parents had divorced when I was younger but that didn't happen and I did hope that I would be in a marriage for life but I didn't sign up for a life sentence (yes I know it sounds very Les Dawson) but I didn't I had to get out for all our sanity, and we are better off.
The bloody media just have hooks to hang certain stories on and are just too lazy to actually think and write a proper piece of journalism. They are reactionary and sensationalise the simplest of things out of all recognisable proportion, but I do think this thread may throw up our new word so come on put your thinkin heads on girls let's do it.
I may also add my dcs are doing very well academically and otherwise occupy their time too. Now there are moments that I have problems but that is just life and we would get htese porblems married or not. Sometimes an absent father can still be absent within a marriage you know
Sorry for rambling tired now.

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Sun 01-Feb-09 23:28:03

V. good point. That would be an aposite word for my xp - he was absent from our relationship. It was disconcerting, to say the least. grin

oldraver Mon 02-Feb-09 00:22:57

Ive not seen the news as dont really bother with it but was thinking about this, this week due to something happening (just a ranty moment in my life)

I have a 22 year old who I have supported alone for the last 9 years, he has now gone to Uni and does now support himself and is a lovely very stable individual. He is studying Criminology (Forensic Science before that)and has recently had to study about the effect of 'broken homes'on possible future criminals... Think his opinion of it was load of b****S

I also have a three year old who was very mush wanted, loved and is not from a broken home. My brother also came to live with me after Uni and is now running his own business. He rarely takes a wage due to cash flow problems.... now he knows he can do this as a) he can get away with not paying me any board b) he usually uses my car or I give him a lift to/from work, round trip of 20 miles so sometimes 40 miles a day

He does have a work van but cant have use of it at the moment as his partner is using it and 'has' to be available at all times for his wife. The same woman who doesnt get up till 12pm then tells her hubby he has to choose between her and work and not to leave her with their baby, so he will then take baby into the workshop or drop it at a neighbour

So I am mighty pissed when I hear stuff about single Mums and broken homes and the possible negative effect this will have on my children as from my perspective I am running around supporting people around me. I was really pee'd off to have to go out at 6.30pm, to pick bro up and when I asked where partner was (and therefore works van).. "Oh he had to go home early as had to take the baby to the doctors" ..and I'm the one that seems to be vilified by society

mamas12 Mon 02-Feb-09 01:14:26

'the effect of broken homes on future criminals' !!
I hope that includes two parents living at home broken homes. Because that is so much more toxic an environment to encourage future crinimals don't you think.
Boo on your brother why is he borrowing your balls btw.

solidgoldbullet4myvalentine Mon 02-Feb-09 01:22:12

The single-mother bashing actually comes from the most basic level of misogyny: women are supposed to service and obey men, so women who don't devote their lives to servicing and obeying a man have to be condemned - because otherwise, other women will realise that servicing and obeying men is neither compulsory nor necessary, and they will stop doing it.

I'm a happy co-parent - DS dad doesn't live with us but he is a great dad, round here at least twice a week looking after DS so I can go out, contributing financially etc - and DS is happy and healthy. There are loads of different ways to be a family, and the more that gets recognised, the better.

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Mon 02-Feb-09 07:36:56

"Women's new economic independence is contributing to family break-up"

They keep repeating that.

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Mon 02-Feb-09 07:38:02

Funny how no-one asks if the current set-up of families is incompatible with women's economic independence.

AnarchyAunt Mon 02-Feb-09 07:45:14

Or if the fact it is now possible for women to have economic independence, means they are more likely to leave a violent/controlling/abusive partner.

Womens' economic independence to blame, my arse.

poshsinglemum Mon 02-Feb-09 09:51:12

Hi everyone. So good to hear your views. After some thought I've come to the conclusion- why should I call my set up anything other than just a normal straightfoward FAMILY! That's exactly what it is! I dont need to find an alternative phrase for it.
I agree solidgold- single mum bashing does come from misogyny. Most of my relationships have failed because I'm very independent and hate being told what to do by men. When I was in a controlling relationship I was totally suffocated.I don't hate men- I love a bit of loving but I'll be damned if I'm going to do what some man wants. My mum has been so downtrodden through her marriage and I don't want to end up some meek little wifey who relies on a man for money. I'd love the sense of security that a GOOD relationship can provide but I've yet to find a GOOD relationship.I am a single mum because I refused to obey my ex's demands and terminate. And proud of myself for having my own mind. Now of course he adores dd and is glad that I didn't give into his demands.Sorry guys but single mother bashing does suit men entirely as they then don't have to be responsible for their bad behaviour.

poshsinglemum Mon 02-Feb-09 10:14:51

i'd also like to stick up for single dads. Why are fathers for justice portrayed as extremist loons if the media is so intent on promoting nuclear family.

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