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Single parent families, good or bad?

(31 Posts)
gaelicgirl100 Mon 14-Nov-16 11:54:54

Ive recently split from my DH with two young DDs. It's been a long time coming (he's a drinker, EA and recently lost his temper and threw things at me)
I have a thread in relationships if anyone wants the details.

My DH was always insistent that in his experience, children of single parent families always ended up 'messed up' and he didn't want his kids to be like that. Personally, I can't say I've noticed, as long as relations between parents are good and kids interests put first then surely that's better than being brought up in an abusive relationship between parents?

As I get through this break up, I'm getting angrier and angrier and now I'm wondering if this is all just a lie in our patriachal society to keep women in shitty relationships with shitty men??? Am I missing something? It seems really obvious. But I stuck it out and took advice and let myself be treated terribly 'for the kids' because a broken home would be really bad for them. I've just swallowed this as a fact for so long, I'm only now questioning it.

Does anyone have any experience, advice or even reading material that can help me with this?

scallopsrgreat Mon 14-Nov-16 12:24:25

I agree - it is a lie. I also think that the 'messing up' occurs whilst the dysfunctional/abusive relationship is in place.

Sorry I haven't got time to write anything more at the moment but hopefully will come back to this smile

You are doing the right thing flowers

cantpickusername Mon 14-Nov-16 12:27:34

It is 100 times better for your DDs that you showed them that it is possible to get up and leave if you're not happy in a relationship.

Well done!

Soubriquet Mon 14-Nov-16 12:28:18

I think in cases of abuse, it's more damaging for children for parents to stay in the relatikship!

Sounds like it was another thing to try to keep you

Well done for being strong enough to leave

scallopsrgreat Mon 14-Nov-16 12:28:33

Should also add that I hate the expression messed up. It implies it is the children's problem. It also implies there can be nothing done about it which is wrong. Removing children from a damaging situation goes a long way to reversing that process. As does a supportive parent (which you sound as if you are).

DameChocolate Mon 14-Nov-16 12:30:02

Absolutely. Funnily enough my EA hated single mothers too!

I bet the d3cent, supportive responsible husbands would say something reasonable like we all have advantages and disadvantages and we all do our best for our dc.

Funny how it is always the controlling selfish entitled husbands who pin society's ills on single parents!

GreenAndWinter Mon 14-Nov-16 12:35:47

My children have been badly damaged by the abusive relationship I stayed in for so long. They are starting to heal now we have been away for two years.

The eldest was six when we left, and he is still quite an unhappy little boy who throws terrible tantrums and tries to treat me with the lack of respect his father always showed. The youngest was only just two, but has horrible memories of daddy shouting and "turning into Hulk".

Being a single parent is hard, but it is a zillion times better and less damaging than staying in an abusive relationship and learning to walk on eggshells all the time.

ginswinger Mon 14-Nov-16 12:43:23

I'm a single mum and often get complimented on what a lovely little girl I've brought up. I think she's a smasher and doesn't seem unduly affected by only having one parent present.

Miffer Mon 14-Nov-16 12:53:41

My parents split when I was a teen, my brother was a teen too. My youngest sister was only 2.

Us older kids have all experienced some degree of mental health issues. My youngest sister in the most self possessed person I know. She is in her 20s and *in a fantastic relationship with a lovely man who was also raised by a single parent from a very young age.

*I put that because a claim often leveled at children of single parents is they can't maintain/find a good relationship. That said though I wonder if a more accurate statement would be "children of single parents aren't willing to put up with shit because they never witnessed their parents doing it". Monogamy is shite anyway... I digress though.

Xenophile Mon 14-Nov-16 13:47:11

It's now generally accepted that it's not being in a single parent family that causes psychological and life out come problems for the children, but the poverty that NRPs are often happy to leave their children living in to punish the (usually) mother. The likelihood of this happening increases in scenarios where the person left was abusive because they continue to abuse their ex partner through the children.

If he wishes to ensure his children aren't "messed up" then he will pay at least 50% of all the costs associated with bringing those children up without a word. No? Well then, it's not your fault if he won't do that is it.

gaelicgirl100 Mon 14-Nov-16 15:24:30

Thanks for your replies.

Really interesting about the poverty being the problem not the single parent. We are definitely worse off now, but shouldn't be in a few years once im in a position to secure a professional full time job. although still worse off than we would have been as a couple with me working full time.

crispandcheesesanwichplease Mon 14-Nov-16 15:28:52

I'm one of 5 brought up in a single parent family. My mum was poor but a grafter and provided for us by doing numerous semi-skilled jobs.

All 5 of us are in happy, settled relationships with kids of our own. 3 of us managed to get degrees and professional jobs.

A number of my friends were brought up in similar circumstances and the only hard thing for us was lack of money as mums didn't earn much money.

I have other friends who grew up in 'traditional' families with a variety of experiences. Some of whom witnessed dv and were very damaged by it.

So ...... it depends on the emotional and physical (not necessarily material) environment, not how many parents are in the home.

Your ex is an ignorant, controlling, right wing caveman, if you don't mind me saying so!

Prawnofthepatriarchy Mon 14-Nov-16 15:40:51

I think it's far more likely that children are damaged either by having witnessed a lousy relationship between their parents, whether they split up or not, or by having a parent who abuses them, whether EA, sex or physical. Toxic parents can go on hurting their kids all their life, as we see on MN all too often.

We also see how people repeat patterns. The woman who grew up with a drunk marries another, and so on. I feel quite passionately that parents who recognize their relationship is repeating the harm done in their own childhood have a responsibility to call a halt to it and seek counselling before starting a new relationship. If they don't it'll probably happen again. It's not just the adult who is being injured, it's the DCs. If you dump an abuser, that's the healthiest thing for the child.

In your case, it seems any damage will be inflicted by your DH, who will presumably continue being a complete bellend whether he lives with you or not.

There's a lot of research been done about the effects of divorce on children, both long and short term. There's this, from Scientific American, and these two from the Guardian Children of divorce: 82% rather parents separate than 'stay for the kids' and Yes, divorce is bad for children, but let’s not fetishise marriage at all costs.

I don't think staying together is a patriarchal lie, because our society is very accepting of divorce. I think it probably stems from the same approach that used to strictly limit parents' visits to children in hospital. In both cases people were deciding how much harm had been done by watching the children's immediate reactions, rather than the long term effects. Very sick children will weep when their parents leave. This doesn't mean visits should be rare. Same with divorce. People saw immediate distress rather than longer term outcomes.

Miffer Mon 14-Nov-16 15:58:46

I don't think staying together is a patriarchal lie, because our society is very accepting of divorce.

In what way? Throw kids into the mix and I don't think society is accepting of divorce at all. If anything, as a society, we are becoming less accepting of it.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Mon 14-Nov-16 18:19:01

Well, in a classic patriarchal dystopia you wouldn't get benefits if you split up, especially if your DH said he was prepared to keep you and any DC. If you look at that sort of society, DV and rape aren't grounds for divorce. In fact that sort of society doesn't normally allow divorce at all. There are plenty of places today where this is true, and it was true here in the 19th Century.

A patriarchal system would strongly reinforce marriage, using all the tools available, including the tax and benefit systems. However there are very few financial benefits to marriage and the penalties of the benefit system work against couples with DC, particularly if the dad's out of work. I've seen several couples split up because the mum got almost as much as a single parent as a couple would receive, and started to see their OH as a luxury. Sad but true.

Miffer Mon 14-Nov-16 18:24:59

Oh it's the old "Well we don't live in Saudi so stop whining" argument.

Bonus points for "I have a mate on benefits who..."

Nothing to see here then.

Dervel Mon 14-Nov-16 20:06:52

There is data that shows a huge correlation (which doesn't prove causation!) between children who come from broken homes and crime/suicide/mental health issues.

However unpack it in more detail and you'll find the X factor is paternal involvement. In separated families where BOTH parents take an active and engaged role in the child's life the life chances of any future particular child are the same.

Crucially if a child grows up secure in the knowledge they have access to both mother and father when required, they tend to do alright. This opprobrium directed at single mothers is misplaced. I know some women seek to cause parental alienation, but they are dwarfed by the number of men who just don't bother.

Besides society jumps on women like that in a hot minute so I think there is awareness of the issue. However the silence is deafaning on any criticism of men who just walk away. I'm a single father who has care of my child half the time. It is unhelpful when men like me are treated like saints just for doing the basic role of being a father. We let all the assholes through the cracks when we make that the default.

Funny thing is I have seen this from the other side of the fence myself. I was raised by a single mother (bloody well under difficult circumstances!). Whereas my own father could't find his arse with an atlas when it comes to parenting. I'm not a saint and am frankly a bit of a shambles in someways, but not when it comes to my own child. That is a line in the sand for me whatever I screw up in life it won't be my parenting.

There ARE incentives for doing it and it's not wether strangers think you are the bees knees. It's in the bond you have with your children. There is no reason two people who separate can't put the needs of the children first and make sure they get a terrific childhood. If someone says they can't do that outside the confines of marriage they were never putting the child's needs first anyway.

MrTCakes Mon 14-Nov-16 20:29:51

Excellent post Dervel

PetyrBaelish Mon 14-Nov-16 20:41:00

I think that the correlation is between unstable, dysfunctional or abusive households in general producing children who develop emotional and/or behavioural difficulties, because their lives are so disrupted, unhappy or explosive.

That kind of household is more likely to split up because of those difficulties, so therefore more of the 'challenging' children in schools do tend to come from single parent households.

However, some of the children I have known with the most tragic home lives have come from 'together' families, and likewise have known many happy, well adjusted children with lovely single parents.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Mon 14-Nov-16 21:07:56

Making cracks about knowing someone on benefits makes very little sense if, like me, you are on benefits. I've seen the effect of weird couple benefits on relationships which weren't great but were holding on until the family hit hard times and it worked out that a woman would be better off with just her and the DC than with her OH as well. If you're not familiar with the funding set up you perhaps shouldn't be quite so snooty.

Can't be bothered to unpick the rest. I find your snippiness oddly enervating.

ITCouldBeWorse Mon 14-Nov-16 21:14:37

Two good parents who get on is great. Someone to share responsibility and practicalities and finances with.

Two good parents who live separately pretty good, higher housing costs mean less £ to spare usually.

Two parents living together in dysfunctional relationship pretty grim

One good parent, pretty good just s bit vulnerable as no spare parent in case if accident, illness or death.

One good parent, one bad - a bit tougher, but still one good one!

One bad parent, pretty sad and dangerous


KarmaNoMore Mon 14-Nov-16 21:30:09

Kids don't get messed up by growing up as children of single parents, they get messed up by being involved in the fallout of the parents.

Having said that, it is far more likely a child ends up messed up, with no idea of what a healthy relationship is or how to have one if he lives in a toxic family environment..

I do believe society hammers into women that crap dad is better than no dad around. That's absolutely rubbish, much better to have no contact than being in the receiving end of neglect, violence and intimidation.

VestalVirgin Mon 14-Nov-16 21:46:44

Your children don't have the choice between a happy intact family and a single mother, they have the choice between an abusive father and a single parent family.

Common sense tells me that however worse the outcome for children from single parent families might be compared to happy two parent families, it is certainly not better for children to witness abuse.

I used to know a girl whose parents divorced (probably due to something harmless like falling out of love or such) when we were quite young. I only saw her when she was with her father, which must have been quite a lot of the time we weren't in school.
From what I have heard she is quite happy and successful in life. Moreso than I, in fact, even though my parents are still happily married.

So, yeah, what Dervel writes sounds about right.

kshaw Mon 14-Nov-16 21:48:48

I'm from a single parent family. I have a steady long term relationship, plenty of good friends, a baby on the way, self sufficient, good job and a masters degree - think I turned out ok!! Mainly because my mum is awesome and my best friend and I had a far happier childhood without my dad in it!!! Nothing annoys me more than this sentiment.

LuluLovesFruitcakes Tue 15-Nov-16 17:50:17

I really don't understand the attitude that a "single" parent automatically means that you're not enough, just because there's one of you?

I've been a single mum since I was pregnant, and even while living in the refuge I kept being told over and over that I needed to find a new man to be a father figure for my son, because me, as a mum, aint enough.

Personally I think if a child has someone who loves them, cares for them and raises them in a safe environment, free from abuse, then it doesn't really matter who that caregiver is. It could be an adopted parent, a gay couple, a grandparent, a single parent...

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