Being a single parent is difficult in many ways, so common misconceptions that float around can make it worse as it causes misunderstanding between those single parents and others. We all come from different situations, but we can certainly work to understand each other in order to unite and lighten each other’s loads.
There are a few huge misconceptions that threaten to cause misunderstandings between single parents and their friends, family and others who fail to realize how wrong they are. Here are some of the biggest misconceptions, and the truths that we can use to battle the lies.
Single Parents Are Needier Than Other Parents
Everyone has heard the stereotype of the needy single parent who doesn’t stop asking for favors and assistance. This is a total misconception. The vast majority of single parents have learned not only to survive, but also to thrive on their own. Many single parents are some of the most organized individuals around because necessity requires it of them. Juggling the demands of children and having only one adult to meet this demands causes single parents to become very creative, and good at getting things done.
Some of the ways that single parents display self-sufficiency are ones that they don’t even think about, but do naturally. Many single parents are less afraid to tackle problems with their house and vehicle, for example, because it has been necessary.
The need to save money in a one-parent family can also cause single parents to develop an especially creative side when it comes to preserving resources. This creativity is a muscle that has been stretched out of necessity and will continue to grow for as long as it is used.
Single Parents Want to Hand Their Children Over to Anyone Who Will Take Them
There are a few parents, single or not, who become exhausted and use poor judgement when it comes to finding adequate childcare. This can be especially tempting to a weary single parent who is handling everything alone. It is not true, though, that single parents as a whole make poor choices in childcare. Many single parents are just as protective, if not more, of their children. This can lead to burnout when one does not have the opportunity to leave their children with a trusted individual, but it is a decision made in the best interest of their children that many single parents make on a regular basis.
Any parent who is feeling burnt out to the point where they need immediate help has options. Often times friends and family are more than willing to help, but simply don’t know where they can best lend a hand. Trusted friends and babysitters that come with recommendations can offer a burnt-out single parent the time alone they need to recharge, and to continue on when they are feeling a little more rested.
Groups that provide help and resources to single parents need to keep this fact in mind when making accommodations and providing these services. Too often, a church group or volunteer service will ask just about anyone to offer childcare to give single parents a break. This puts single parents in a position of having to turn down a much-needed break that could have greatly benefited them, simply because there were not adequate child welfare checks run, etc.
When an organization provides this type of service that involves little ones, it should be run with the same care as a similar service for married parents would do. Child welfare checks must be made, along with checking for criminal records, acquiring references, and setting safety guards in place.
Single Parents Are Permissive with Their Children
Many people are mistakenly under the impression that the children of single parents are wild and unruly, with no solid role models nor any rules. This is entirely untrue; the range of parenting is as wide among single parents as it is among those who are married. Many single parents have strict rules for their children to adhere to, and expect as much from their children as any married parent. Single parents should not be judged based on their relationship status, because there is no blanket rule about how someone parents due to that status.
One should never assume that if a child of a single parent acts badly, that it is because they are the child of a single parent. There are so many factors that come into play.
Two children, one from a two-parent family and one from a single parent family, may have an equally bad day. The child from the two-parent family is more likely to be considered as simply having an odd bad day, whereas the child from the single parent family may be called troublesome and unruly. We as teachers, adults, fellow parents and members of society must be vigilant about not allowing these stereotypes to live on in our own minds and the minds of others.
Single Parents Got What They Deserve
There are many comments made by those who have not walked in a single parent’s shoes, about how they perceive them as to have gotten to that place. Plenty of individuals are quick to judge, and assume that if someone is a single parent then they must have done something to get there.
Some single parents come to that place because of the bad choices of a previous partner. Others chose life for their child when faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Still others have come to a point where they realized that they and their children were simply more stable and better off without continuing in a marriage that was not doing anyone any good.
Instead of assuming the worst, why don’t we all make the choice to put ourselves in the shoes of anyone new that we meet? You never know when you will end up in someone’s position, and you can never understand the full story without being there yourself, or at least asking someone who was. If you recognize this trait in yourself, start a new habit of giving each person you meet a clean slate that they alone are given the opportunity to fill their story with.
Single Parents Are Strong Enough to Do It Alone
Although single parents are some of the strongest and most resilient individuals based on their need to adapt as such, no one is an island and we all need each other. As single parents we sometimes feel as though we have to prove to the world that we can do everything by ourselves, and we burn ourselves out in the process.
If you are a single parent, you need to guard against this tendency to destroy yourself in the attempt to come across as some kind of superhero. No one can do it alone, whether married or single.
If you are a friend of a single parent, find out if there are ways you can help. Even small attempts at assistance are greatly appreciated when they display the love and concern of a true friend. We should all keep a close eye on each other so as to avoid leaving someone to flounder alone.
You may go into the situation thinking you are helping your single parent friend, and you may soon realize that they are giving an equal or greater amount than you are. Make practical arrangements that will help everyone out, such as a childcare swap, etc. Don’t forget to hold up to your end of the bargain, as a single parent may have grown tired of asking for favours and may end up taking on too much and burning out quickly.
Single Parents Are Desperate for a Partner
There is a myth floating around that all single parents are gruesomely lonely and desperate for a partner. This myth is what draws predatory relationships near, especially when it comes to single mothers. Often low-quality men will assume that they can find a single mother who will be desperate for love, to the point where they see her as an easy target who will give them whatever they want.
This is a ridiculous thought, as many single parents have had relationships that they worked through, got over, and became wiser from. This gives single parents an edge when it comes to spotting fraudulent relationships versus the real thing.
If you are a friend of a single parent, show them respect and don’t assume that they are making bad choices in their relationships. Single parenting can become lonely, however, so do not hesitate to set them up with your friends if they have expressed interest in finding love. Single parents are no more desperate to pair off than anyone else, but they are also no less interested in the potential of a good quality romantic relationship.
Single Parents Are Using Their Children as Pawns to Get Back at Their Partner
There is a story that persists that all broken relationships result in two parents who use their children to fight with each other. Although sadly this does happen, there are many couples who have split up but still find a way to co-parent in a positive way with each other.
Many parents each and every day sacrifice their need for vindication against their ex, for the best interest of their children. It is helpful to remember that your ex probably wants the best interest of your children just as you do, and to keep this in mind when disagreeing on issues involving your children.
Keep fighting words to yourself and be calm and peaceful when parenting discussions arise with your ex. You will be amazed at how much more smoothly things can run when you put aside your differences and focus on your children’s best interest.
Single Parents and Their Families Are Dysfunctional
It is unfortunate that some people assume that having only one parent makes a family dysfunctional. Just like two-parent families, there are single parent families that are healthy and those that are dysfunctional.
You can’t judge a family by the number of parents in it. A family that displays love for each other and where all family members are valued and respected, is indeed functional. Dysfunction comes when people put themselves first at the expense of the other individuals within the family, and where the needs and wants of others are ignored.
Single Parents Are Contributing to the Problems of Society
Some of those who don’t know any better assume that anything wrong with the world is caused by single parents and their children. This is a grave injustice to the many, many children of single parent families around the world. These children, just like all other children, have the great potential to change the world in a positive manner. And many have gone on to do just that.
Single parents have raised artists and activists, as well as scientists, neurosurgeons and presidents. Don’t make the false assumption that the child of a single parent is any less likely to become great, or any more likely to become a criminal.
Many a single parent could teach the world a thing or two about raising model citizens. If you are a single parent, be encouraged that your child has a high likelihood of success, and simply remember to keep on doing the great job you already are.
Why the Misconceptions?
Why are there so many misconceptions about single parents? One is simply the fact that most people do not understand what they have not been through. When those who are casting the judgements on single parents make their assumptions, they are believing things they may have seen in the movies or on television, or by word of mouth.
It is easy to hold a wrong assumption about a group of people you know nothing about. Many times, someone has judged single parents, only to end up a single parent themselves at some point. At this point, it takes the individual out of their small world and opens up their eyes to reveal that other single parents are just like them. We are all real humans with real struggles and real triumphs.
Having a different set of circumstances does not minimize a person’s humanity. This should be a reminder to us all to work towards an understanding of each other instead of judging unnecessarily.
What Can Single Parents Do to Minimize Misconceptions?
When an individual is determined to put you in a box, sometimes there is nothing you can do. There are times though, that can be learning experiences for those involved. If someone seems to have good intentions but is simply misguided, try to be patient as they may simply be uneducated. Remember that we have all at some point in our lives had wrong perceptions of people. If there is malicious intent behind their words, then it may be necessary to confront the untruths in a more forceful way.
We need to be careful about the media we put into our minds as well, as this is a gateway for many of the misconceptions floating around about many groups of people. If we can control what goes into our own mind, we are setting an example for others to do the same.
We can also protect our children from these negative thoughts about single parents, which will help their self-esteem remain strong. We can also take every opportunity when presented with comments that stereotype single parents, to correct the untruths and set the records straight. With a little effort on the part of everyone, we can change the world bit by bit.
What Are the True Qualities of Most Single Parents?
Single parents display a wide range of positive traits. Far from the irresponsible, lonely thrill seeker that the common stereotypes promote, single parents comprise an amazing group of people. There is great strength among the majority of this group, and a tenacity that shines.
If you are looking for role models to represent each character quality, a group of single parents is a great place to seek it. Creativity comes when budgets are stretched and painful holidays have to be recreated. Endurance comes when court battles become long and drawn out, and when the road is tough, with no end in sight. Courage is there when a single parent stands alone and tries to create a thriving life for themselves and their children.
Single parents shine when it comes to self-sacrifice, because this is itself a necessity of being a single parent. One will not survive long as a single parent without these traits, so simply still being a successful single parent who continues to plod this road bears testament to the fact that you hold these qualities.
The path of single parenthood comes from many different directions, and travels into many places. Along this road, one of the most difficult things will be dealing with the judgments and assumptions of those less educated and aware of how things really are.
Keep on top of the misconceptions of others by knowing some of the thoughts that float around. This will give you a chance to figure out a way to describe the truth to those of your friends and family who are interested in your story, and are willing to listen and learn. You as a single parent can become a role model to many as they see you live out your truth on a day-to-day basis. Hold your head up and know that you are an amazing parent of amazing children who will go far.