Single Mother? How About We Just Call Them Parent.

Do you know what gets my goat? Journos like Andrew Bolt lambasting single mothers for all of society’s woes! And don’t get me started on the TV programs that show women in their late 30s or 40s having abortions because they fear becoming single mums (yes, I’m looking at you The Slap!).

A quick Google search of the words ‘Andrew Bolt’ and ‘single mother’s’ revealed an astounding number of pages and pages of search results for his blogs, not all of which lambast single mothers, but also for comments attached to his blogs. This actually just made me feel sad that single mothers who are already vulnerable, are attacked rather than assisted. Let’s keep in mind that the Labor Goverment in 2013 enforced a new law whereby all single parents once their youngest child turns 8 will be transferred to the New Start allowance – a measly $527 per fortnight. Somehow this is supposed to force single parents into work rather than be on welfare. It does not take into account who will look after the children before and after school – or the fact, the amount most likely earned whilst working will in fact be paid out to before and after school care if parents can not find some other cheaper option. It got me thinking – why the hate Bolt? What did single mothers ever do to you. Why can’t you ever write in a constructive supportive way about single mothers or in fact just keep your opinions to yourself.

In his ironically titled blog ‘The Troubled Rise of The Single Parent’ Bolt makes some staggering accusations at single mothers whilst proffering flimsy quotes to back up his argument. For example, how about this pearl of wisdom:

‘the demographic profile of the single mother makes uncomfortable reading’

Really? Why so uncomfortable? Is it because single mothers step up and take responsibility when usually fathers have walked away? Happy to have their fortnightly visits or indeed – no contact at all. What I find uncomfortable is the rate of abandoned pregnant women by father’s who choose to not take responsibility for their actions! In fact statistics gleaned from the USA (apologies it’s not Australian – apparently the Australian Census doesn’t deem this important enough to gather these statistics) showed that a remarkable 44.2% of single mothers are either divorced or separated! Given there is a trend away from marriage it’s not surprising that the second highest statistic is that of those never married – 36.8%. This does not take into account whether the mothers were in fact partnered and abandoned post pregnancy announcement, or after baby came along. Regardless, it really doesn’t help single mothers when high profile journalists like Bolt like to dig the boot in because their parental status makes him uncomfortable.

There is a general consensus that children raised in happy, loving, secure households tend to be the most well adjusted. Let’s get something straight. Just like not all partnered parents are the same neither are all single mothers! There are plenty of unhappy, abusive two parent families. Quite often the result of these unhappy families is a single parent situation – when the said abused parent finally leaves. Could we perhaps surmise that a child with issues in a single parent family is perhaps carrying those issues from the very two parent family that created the abusive situation? In actual fact the single parent is now trying to pick up the pieces of the chaotic two parent environment to nurture and care for their child. I am sure we have all been shocked by the recent and tragic murder of Luke Batty – the eleven year old child murdered by his father in cold blood. A child who began life in a two parent household, whose mother then made the tough decision to go it alone, thereby creating a safe and secure environment for her son, only to have the father who was mentally deranged murder him in front of her and many of the Tyabb community. Might I add, Luke’s mother Rosie has shown enormous courage in the face of unbelievable tragedy, with this to say:

“No one loved Luke more than Greg, his father. No one loved Luke more than me. We both loved him,” she said. ”It was a tragic situation that no one could see was going to happen. I’m still dealing with disbelief. I’m here right now because I know you have a job to do, and I want to tell everybody that family violence happens to everybody, no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are.”

My God, what an amazing woman. What an amazing parent. Such dignity in the face of such an unbelievable situation. The fact she even allowed contact at all is a credit to the kind of woman she is. Obviously one with values and beliefs that believed her child should be allowed a relationship with his father. Bravo Rosie. Bravo.

I would like to suggest something, let’s get rid of the label ‘single mother’ and just call her ‘parent’ because that’s what she is and does whether she is in a relationship or not. She is the parent picking up her child from school at the end of the day. She is the parent you see walking hand in hand with her child around the lake. She is the parent you see dropping her child to dance lessons. She is the parent you see playing tea party in the front yard. She is the parent doing the work of raising her child the best way she knows how. I’ve lost count of my partnered friends who tell me ‘I’m really a single parent because (insert hubby’s name) is constantly away with work!’. Um, yeah you’re not love, but anyway. I’ll stick to the point. Does this family situation also make Bolt feel uncomfortable? The family that has one parent work away so much so that one of the parents feels they are single? Or is this okay because it fits the stereotype of how a family should be. How does Bolt feel about parents who stay together in abusive, angry households for the sake of the children? Is this a better option than removing the child and putting them into a single parent house? One that is safe and bereft of anxiety and drama?

Let’s discuss the notion of parents and who should be parents. Because according to people like Bolt it should be a man and a woman living together as husband and wife equalling ‘normal’. Well in my opinion parents are the people who raise children in their care, whether they are a foster parent or an aunt and uncle who have taken on their deceased siblings children or Grandparents who have taken over where there children have failed or even two Dads or two Mums. It doesn’t really matter because all these parental situations as long as they are safe and secure are perfectly fine when there is a loving and nurtering environment for children to grow.  It’s parents raising children, not single mothers or single dads or two parent families. And let’s keep in mind that in ALL situations, some do a good job and some do a really crap job. Can I point out the partnered pair in the USA recently sentenced to sixty years jail for the neglect of their baby whom was starving to death while they played video games. I can give you many more cases of two parent unions really stuffing up when it comes to the parent stakes. But I guess it gets Andrew Bolt more hits or more likes or comments as Google seemed to reveal to make stupid biased statements like:

‘unmarried motherhood has become something of a profession’

Well thanks Bolt at least you acknowledge that women do work in the home. Oh, sorry you were having a dig not implying that the work women do in the home is a job.

You see, it’s pieces like the Bolt one that make it seem like all single mothers chose to be single mothers, that they said, oh hey – look I can get $600 a fortnight from the government (because that’s a fortune – right?) and live off the fat of the land and get myself a big screen TV. WRONG! He seems to be forgetting all the single mothers who fled to women’s shelters, and left abusive narcissistic men, who were dumped when they were pregnant and decided abortion was not the answer, all the women who lost partners to horrible accidents or who were simply left for another woman, or another life, or something people like to call ‘freedom’.

And it’s not just women, it’s men raising children on their own too, and men who end up in the same situation. I’ve even heard of men who have partnered with a single mother, loved her children as his own, only to have her pass away and he be left the father of her children. Did he walk away! No he did not, he raised those children the best way he could. I guess the good news stories like this don’t really make the headlines, because when you’re doing a good job – well who wants to know really – no one! But when you stuff up and you do a bad job, well that’s when everyone wants to make sure you feel like you are the reason our jail’s are full, children are committing crimes and probably responsible for genocide as well. Clearly I am being sarcastic. My point is this. Being a single mother is not a crime. It does not make you a terrible person. I would actually say it makes you a kind of super hero, because you are the one who stuck it out, who took on the responsibility and didn’t walk away. Single Mothers have raised some amazing people! Barrack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Orlando Bloom, Christina Aguilera, Halle Berry, Bill Clinton, John Lennon and the list goes on!

Single parents have and will continue to raise amazing human beings who contribute to this world. I know MANY amazing single mothers myself! One runs her own PR business and has a slew of successful clients and companies, many you will have heard of and possibly purchase from your supermarket on a daily basis! Another is a successful Interior Designer and runs a catering business on the side! Another is on TV regularly in commercials. Another is a Psychologist. Another a Professor. Another recently launched her 3rd book to great success sharing her tips on parenting and eating well. Another is a lawyer who gets paid to travel the world giving legal advice to huge corporations. Another is my own mum, who took herself back to University as a mature age student and became a Psychologist, Counsellor and Social Worker! Amazing not just single mothers but WOMEN! How about we put our hands together for these single mothers, kicking goals, being amazing and raising wonderful human beings in an environment that provides, love, safety and security. Because let me tell you Andrew Bolt that’s actually all a child needs whether it is provided by 1, 2, 3 or even 6 parents!

You’ll hear more about this from me. Why? Because I’m a single mother!It’s the whole reason I wrote My Super Single Mum – because I saw a gap and realised our children needed to feel loved and valued even in literature. And I’m passionate about this topic. And all I can say is this. I am single mother, hear me roar and I will not be tarred by the same brush that biased journo’s like Andrew Bolt like to tar us all with.

Super Single Mums from left Catherine R Moore (lawyer) Shereen Kiddle (Publicist) and Bronny Lane (Business Owner
Super Single Mums from left Catherine R Moore (Lawyer) Shereen Kiddle (Publicist) and Bronny Lane (My Super Family children’s book author)