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Single parenthood: why it rules

(74 Posts)
KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Apr-14 14:53:41

A recent study has found that children raised by a single parent are just as happy as those raised by two biological parents. Fortuitously, at the time the study was published we were already putting together a page about the best things about being a single parent, based on Mners' posts.

We'd love to hear your reaction to this study, as well as your experiences of being a single parent. Are you content with your family set-up? If you had previously been in a dual-parent relationship, is your life better or worse than it was before? Got any wise tips for being a fulfilled lone parent while raising happy kids? As ever, please let us know what you think.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 25-Apr-14 10:40:25

There are single parents, and single parents.
Some have total responsibility/control with their children, some have joint custody with an Ex.
Some single parents have a good relationship with their Ex, for others it is a horrible thing to have to hand over the child/ren every other weekend, or in the school holidays.
Some single parents receive maintenance for their dc, some get nothing at all.
There are those of us who have been single from day 1, and those who find themselves single after long marriages.
Some single (resident) parents are even men! (Although not many).
There are too many variables, and different circumstances that surround being a single parent, that it's really hard to make pronouncements about it.

CheeryName Fri 25-Apr-14 11:56:47

I agree with IfNotNowThenWhen...

My dad was a single parent for a few years, with a bit of support, he was pretty good at it.

My friend down the road is a single parent with LOADS of support, she is rubbish at it.

Another friend is a single parent with no support and she is marvellous.

But I could think of similar examples of each of this for dual-parents too.

My wise tip for any sort of parent - sign up to Mumsnet smile

Donki Fri 25-Apr-14 13:53:51

So how long does it take to adjust when your 'D'H has an affair and annouces that he is moving out whilst he contemplates his navel thinks about who he wants to be with, leaving you with an 11year old (year 6) son with ASD who is having difficulties at school?

I have no idea how much time he will spend the YoungDonki. I said he should do half the holidays as well as weekly or EOW contact and he went white.

CuttedUpPear Fri 25-Apr-14 14:33:34

As a lifelong single parent (DCS now 17 and 22) I wish so much that I had had Mumsnet back in the day.
It was tough but then I think that any kind of parenting can be tough at times.
The advantages were having the last say on everything and being able to set my own standards.
I know my kids appreciate that i have done the job on my own and that means a lot.

Also I was able to complete a college course which had lots of homework in the evenings during the years that my children were in bed by 7.30pm. If I had had a partner I just wouldn't have been able to devote the time to my studies - other people on my course commented on it.

BeCool Fri 25-Apr-14 14:35:53

I am FT working single parent - what works for me is to get as much organized during the week (shopping, cleaning, chores etc) as I can so I can spend my (alternate) weekends with my DC.

SacreBlue Fri 25-Apr-14 16:19:50

I've deleted a number of responses to this thread because families come in all different shapes and sizes and trying to explain how I feel was too personal.

So suffice to say, I have raised my DS with no input from the other parent or their family not the latter's choice I believe and as tough as it has been it has also been wonderful.

I get so many compliments about my DS <open brag> and sometimes I don't feel worthy of them because he is not just the product of his upbringing but also his own determination but accept them anyway as 'balance' to previous prejudice

There are so many swings and roundabouts (no NRP input/money Vs fraught contact possibilities for example) and other factors (how much money/support for example) that I don't think SP 'rule' - just that we are as capable of doing a bloody great job as anyone else and nowadays there is a bit less prejudice towards us.

girliefriend Fri 25-Apr-14 17:18:00

I have been a single parent since day dot with dd (her father has no involvement - his choice) and I love that I don't have to share her with anyone and that we get to do lots of things together.

The things that are tricky are when one of us is ill or feeling low, financial implications, dd feeling like something is 'missing' by not having a dad sad

Am glad to see that study though, usually single parent studies just make me feel more guilty!!

HerrenaHarridan Fri 25-Apr-14 18:33:25

Completely agree with the study and pleased to finally see published research that backs up my life experience.

My mum was a single parent and while it was often tough for her it certainly wasn't a disaster for me. Having still never met my 'dad' I can honestly say I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

Now I'm a single parent to my dd (from 10 months now 2.3) and i can say that tough as it is sometimes I have never once regretted splitting up with her waster father. He occasionally sees her for a couple of hours at a contact centre and never has financial input.

Parenting is tough, in many ways it would be easier to share the load with another responsible adult but this way I get to set the standards and I don't ever have to resent the fact that I do all the cleaning, wash all the clothes and dishes etc

She's my kid and I take full responsibility for her every need in return for which she loves me above all else, I am her entire universe... For now smile)

MinesaMess Fri 25-Apr-14 18:41:10

I think anyone with half a brain knows all a child really needs to thrive is a loving, stable home environment and a parent who prioritizes their DC's needs and who carefully considers the impact on their DC when making decisions, particularly where new relationships are concerned. How the RP relates to the NRP or deals with the issue of an absent parent are also very important factors in terms of their dc's happiness imo.

The single parent stereotypes portrayed in the media are so far removed from my experience of single parenthood. I can honestly say single parenthood has been the making of me, my son made me a better person. I have more confidence, endless patience and an optimistic outlook on life.

I work in a profession I love, study p/t and get 3 days a week at home, the perfect work/life balance really.
As others say it's different for everyone and experiences vary wildly depending on circumstances but I wouldn't change a thing.

It would be nice to think a study like this could change public perceptions of single parents but I highly doubt it. Thankfully the only people who's opinions I care about aren't narrow minded DM readers. smile

SquidgyMaltLoaf Fri 25-Apr-14 20:28:37

I honestly doubt the value of some of these studies, whether they're about single or coupled parents. A child who grows up with a single, committed, loving parent is going to be happier than one with parents who are together but not interested / abusive / whatever. Conversely, a child with a not interested / abusive / whatever single parent is probably going to fare worse than one with two committed, loving parents who are together. As the second poster said, there are too many variables.

OddFodd Fri 25-Apr-14 22:29:49

Squidgy - I disagree. I think the value of studies like this is that they turn the notion of single parents as responsible for all the ills in society. We're generally considered as a synonym for poor parenting, low income, and low achievements for our children. Basically, the worst possible situation for a child to be in. While most of those poor outcomes are done to lack of income rather than having only one parent, it's very good to hear that actually children are no less likely to be unhappy.

I thank my lucky stars that I'm a single parent a lot of the time. Being in a relationship and raising a child seems to me to be enormously hard work.

queenofthepirates Fri 25-Apr-14 22:35:33

I have a fabulous daughter who whilst she has never known her father (and vice versa), she has also never been party to arguments, conflict or a difference of opinion when it comes to her upbringing. She has one party line and firm boundaries. Naturally she pushes them a bit but she is generally happy and well adjusted, enjoying a close family nearby and plenty of love.

Two parent families can also have that environment too but I am confident my daughter will grow up in a safe, stable and loving household where she can grow gently and at her own pace.

OddFodd Fri 25-Apr-14 22:35:42

turn the notion ... on its head.

That's the bit that vexes me. The assumption that all things being equal, two parents = always better than one.

BadcatBertram Fri 25-Apr-14 22:53:58

I'm new to MN although I have lurked for a long time, during which I became unexpectedly pregnant with my first DD and subsequently left the my EA partner when DD was 6 weeks old. I've found this site so helpful in many ways and reading other people's experiences has seen me through a few dark times.

I left with nothing but a few bags to live with some relatives and I can honestly say I am happier than I have been for a very long time. DD now 5 months old and I am trying to remain civil with her dad for her sake but he only sees her once a week for an hour with me present. I am dreading the day I have to hand her over to him for any period of time because he's never looked after her on his own. I am lucky that I have good friends and family - many of whom I have become much closer to since I left my ex. It must be hard if you do not have that support. Before I left I worried that I would be depriving my DD in some way by taking her out of a traditional family unit but now I only regret I didn't do it sooner. I appreciate it may be different for older children who've lived with their dad's longer etc.

I am looking forward to raising my child in a calm and loving environment but I am a little anxious about the future and wonder if things will become more difficult when she's older and I am on my own.

I will keep watching threads like this with interest as I'm sure many others are in my position.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 25-Apr-14 23:04:41

You will be fine Badcat smile It gets easier and easier. Well done for making that leap.

Quangle Sat 26-Apr-14 00:02:06

I'm very happy being a single parent and we are a happy family. I know we are. I don't need a study to tell me that although it's great to have a study tell the rest of the world that.

What matters is security and love and that's what many single parents provide to their children. Some single parents might struggle but then some couples struggle - it's true that to do it as a single parent you have to be stronger and tougher to keep it all together but I am strong and tough so that's fine smile.

I think often to be a really good parent you put yourself second so that you can prioritise your children - it's probably hard to do that and still find time to be a couple together. I can imagine that bit getting lost. I don't have to think about that - and I really don't want to have to think about anyone other than me and my DCs. So for me being alone is not a burden - it's easier.

I'm fortunate to have a decent income - managing everything I have to do plus the stress of money worries would put a very different cast on things.

It also helps that although I am alone I don't feel lonely. I don't need much company because my days are full of work and children so a bit of P&Q in the evening is actually what I want.

If I had a tip for newly single parents it would be to impart the sense that you have to create this family - you have to set the tone, create the culture, be the leader in your pack. Sometimes it's tough and sometimes it's a "fake it till you make it" situation but thinking of yourself as the one who runs this shebang is better than wishing someone would come and help you with it.

RandomInternetStranger Sat 26-Apr-14 00:25:12

It's wonderful in some ways, far easier than being a married mother, in my experience. In other ways it is the hardest thing in the world - having to hand her over to an evil, lying, cheating, violent, selfish, nasty, nasty, nasty man and his self absorbed, immature, bratty, demanding, miserable, strict whore and to know they are not in any way good enough to be near her, are treating her not nearly as well as she deserves and are raising her in a dramatically different way to the way I do, and that when she's with him they actively undo all of my beliefs, ideals and the way her father and I agreed before the whore came along. Knowing that every minute she's with him she's in danger - physical, emotional and mental - and there is fuck all I can do about it because the courts in their infinite wisdom think any father, no matter who he is or what he's done, in better than no father. I really hope karma smacks those judges (different ones in different hearings) between their eyes one day. (I have her doing chores, eating a very healthy diet, attending certain classes, I teach her about adult things in a child friendly way to make them a normal part of life eg sex, reproduction, puberty, politics, all religions and beliefs, homosexuality, lifestyle choices etc etc, I teach her to never blindly believe what anyone tells you, not even me, but to question, reason, research and think for herself. They have her sitting in front of a bloody screen all day while whore does all the traditionally female tasks and he sits on his ever increasing backside, just like his father, playing the arrogant big I AM, they teach her you do what you are told, you don't have an opinion, you sit down, shut up, be good and do what I say, never argue or question me, you will be a devout Christian, it is the ONLY truth, and you're far too young to know about bodies, how the country is run, that it's OK to be gay oh and by the way you must fiercly judge anyone who looks different - goths, punks, foreigners, they are all to be feared and loathed. They are utter wankers.)

Lioninthesun Sat 26-Apr-14 01:36:30

Agree with Quangle as well as the range of single parents. I have 1 family member who I see roughly once a month and ex hasn't seen DD since she was 6mo (his choice). I think highlighting how we need a break/respite would be a nice addition. I've also got a slight concern that this gives NRP an excuse to cut contact/finances though. I think this is a good step to break the stereotype but I'd like to see some pressure on parents to pay for their own children rather than seemingly saying "Oh it's ok, woman can do the job and kids turn out fine regardless" - I know I am fine, but let's not let men off the hook if they aren't pulling their weight.

thornrose Sat 26-Apr-14 01:57:08

I really wanted to raise a child in a happy 2 parent family. I had a truly terrible relationship with my dad and I wanted to see a good child/father relationship for my child/children.

I was sad when me and x split but eventually I was ok about being on my own with dd, because there were no arguments for her to witness (like I saw with my parents) no clash of parenting styles, decisions were made by me.

Things became more complicated when dd was diagnosed with AS and in all honesty I wished I wasn't a lone parent for a good while. Lots of added pressure being lone parent to a child on the autistic spectrum.

However when dd's dad died 4 years ago I became the only parent and that's a whole different ball game. I now really miss dd having another parent. However bad things are the fact that your child has someone other than you gives that child security. My dd is scared that I will die one day, she has had to face a reality not many children do.

There is a massive assumption that lone parent equals separated/divorced parent. Nobody seems to consider children who have had a parent die. I wonder if they are included in the study? sad

FrontForward Sat 26-Apr-14 08:29:11

I think I'm quoted in that MN article. smile

I think that study is too simplistic but if it gets rid of some of the negativity around single parent do it's good.

I had a difficult marriage (started well but ended miserably). Staying together for the children is the biggest most harmful myth. Working at it (and succeeding) is what I'd suggest should replace that, along with split well. Put your children first. Think about what they want. Think about what the environment they grow up in is doing to them

Pros of sharing parenting are obvious in terms of two resources of finance, energy, time and love

Cons are any conflict. Same as in any relationship but far more significant if children are involved. You have to weigh up whether the pros balance the cons. Too many women are frightened to leave IMO and the cons of their relationship (and impact on their children) is huge.

For be having another relationship or time for me after the very hard bit. Easy if I don't put my child first. Not if I do.

FrontForward Sat 26-Apr-14 08:31:35

Thornrose flowers. I've faced serious illness and wondered who would bring up my child if I died. It's a horrible scenario. Even needing an op or being very ill when you are a sole parent is very very hard.

SquidgyMaltLoaf Sat 26-Apr-14 08:50:03

I see your point, OddFodd - I still stand by my belief that it's the parent(s)'s attitude that is far more important than the family setup, but I can see how a study like this might help to quell negative assumptions. I would never judge anyone for being a single parent - I suppose I naively assumed that others would do the same!

BluebellTuesday Sat 26-Apr-14 09:18:01

I think it is absolutely important to emphasise family function over family form.

I think, actually, an indication of how badly single parents are viewed in society that this study is presented in this manner. The far more obvious point for comment is that just a third of children would describe themselves as happy. This suggests to me that focusing on family form is asking the wrong question. The real question is why are our children in general not happier.

But maybe easier to make a story out of single parents than one which asks broader social questions.

To the MN OP about single parents, I need to think on that.

BluebellTuesday Sat 26-Apr-14 09:19:14

It is an indication, that should read

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