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Single parents and working/studying

(6 Posts)
skyatnight Thu 19-Jul-07 14:52:01

Thought I'd start a thread instead of hijacking everyone elses.

This was in the news yesterday about single parents being unable to claim income support once their child reaches the age of 7:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6904520.stm

Here is a Mumsnet thread about it from the In The News board:

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk?topicid=1372&threadid=358004&stamp=070719080229

I found this web page saved when going through some of my 'favourites' yesterday (it is 10 years old but seems to say that single mothers can do a good job of parenting but the outcome for their children is better if the mother is working):

http://www.gate.net/~liz/liz/study.htm

I gave up a career a few years ago because the job was making me miserable. I am considering retraining for a new career but I know it will be a tall order in terms of the time and logistics of looking after dd. Money will be an issue too. I don't have any parents alive or family nearby to help me and, in any case, it would mean moving away to go back to university. Is it worth going through all this and, most probably, having to spend a lot less time with dd in the process? Would it be better for me to take a job in an office or try and find one of those term-time jobs, that are like gold-dust, which would allow me to be around for her? Or would trying for a whole new career be worth it in the long run for dd to have a fulfilled Mum? What will I regret most?

(You only have to have a look at the Student Parents part of this website to hear moans and groans about how stessful it is to try and meet deadlines for essays to be handed in while looking after a child!)

I'm getting a bit old for starting again but I think it would help my self-esteem to be more ambitious. As things stand currently, it is as if my ex can just walk away and continue with his life and plans whereas I am stuck with the responsibilities. Why should I give up all my dreams?

I know it's for me to weigh up the options and decide but any thoughts/experiences on this anyone, or on being a single parent and working?

AMAZINWOMAN Thu 19-Jul-07 15:40:35

I feel its a really difficult choic between providing a bit of money for your kids , nd being there for them. Kids need both and I think its a horrible, horrible choice.

I work, and its sort of OK hours-but I HATE my job. I need to work though as the extra money i get goes to my landlord. My local housing authority are SO tight, so need to work

But its so hard trying to get the balance right. I haven't got it yet..

skyatnight Thu 19-Jul-07 16:06:09

Hi Amazinwoman. I can really identify with what you've said about it being a 'horrible, horrible choice'. Everybody has to make choices in life about work and careers but, as the only parent, you feel you have to be the perfect at-home-nurturer as well as the bread-winner/career-person, all rolled into one. It's two full jobs, for two people or two jobs shared between two people.

Is it at all possible to take on a big commitment like a degree, if you've got no back-up in terms of family to step in when things go wrong and something has to give? I suppose I would have to sort out various backups in the form of child-minders, etc. but being able to afford that is another matter.

If I started again now, at my age, I would not be expecting to have a high-faluting, high-earning career at the end of it. It is more about doing something for me that will get my brain going, give me an identity other than that of a mother, increase my self-esteem.

But maybe it would just be like shooting myelf in the foot. The stress of keeping it all together might just ruin dd's childhood and then I would have achieved nothing.

Dilemma.

skyatnight Thu 19-Jul-07 16:09:24

Sorry that you hate your job BTW. I know that feeling too.

mistressmiggins Thu 19-Jul-07 20:03:24

FWIW I work part time
my H left 20 mths ago

when my 3 yr cries & says she doesnt want to go to nursery, I calmly explain that I need to work to earn money to provide clothes & food & a house for them. My DS (5) understands this now....

today after a long day at work & the kids both crying cos tired, I almost lost it & explained that I would love to be able to take DS to school every day or to play with DD every day but I have to go to work & that is life

I dont feel its ruining their childhood. I hope they will respect me for working & providing for them.

I hate my job though & would love to go back to uni to retrain but as a single parent, not sure I can afford to - THAT I find sad

skyatnight Thu 19-Jul-07 22:57:04

Hi MistressMiggins. Thanks for responding.
I remember your threads from a while back.

Yes, I'm certainly not implying that working means that a single parent neglects their kids. The evidence seems to be that children benefit from seeing their parent(s) work. I imagine children can adjust to a parent working longer hours and understand that it is necessary. Obviously, the money they earn helps as well to give the children a better standard of living.

I suppose I have already answered my own question which is that, if I did decide to try and retrain or to do anything remotely ambitious, there would have to be some sacrifices. I have to decide myself whether it would be worth it or just a vanity exercise. It's not possible to have everything in life.

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