January 12, 2019
By Rachel O. S. Edmund
Many people have nasty things to say about single mothers without even attempting to understand her journey. From employers to family members, the scathing comments and judgmental eyes are hurtful and oh so real!
I never thought that I would be a single mother because it wasn’t something that I saw in my future as a nineteen-year-old married woman. Coming from a Seventh Day Adventist background it was something that I didn’t really understand. At church a single woman with children was usually a widow and the church would take pity on such a woman as the protector and provider had gone to meet the Lord. Compassion for her was boundless as people could somehow understand and pity her loss.
A single woman who had children but was divorced was not something that I saw because divorce was not encouraged or even spoken about at church. Over the years I have realized that a lot of people in the church look at divorced single mothers or single mothers in general are looked upon differently to widowed single mothers. In my mind I never even cared about such a distinction because to me a single mother is a single mother regardless of how she came to be one. I have realized that through my work with single mothers that there are different classifications of single mothers which I will speak on in a subsequent post.
Coming back to single mothers in general, people look at them differently. It is such a shame because it is as though they think that we are fragile, broken, lacking some integral characteristic and so many more negatives. We are stigmatized for no real reason really.
I have heard employers say that they won’t hire a mother, worse yet a single mother because she would need to take too much time off from work. To myself I asked, is that mother even qualified for the job? I’m sure she would be given that she applied for the position! Of course practicing such is against the law because it is a discriminatory practice however it being a discriminatory practice does not mean that it isn’t practiced or happening.
I have heard that single mothers are lazy and don’t want to get up and work to provide for their children and rely so heavily on child support for their daily sustenance. Whilst this may be true for some single mothers it does not represent the truth for all single mothers.
It has been said that this generation is the product of single mothers and to be honest I think so too however being from the old school and coming from a Caribbean island, I think a bit differently to many of my compeers. I still believe that it takes a village to raise children and the village has failed the single mother and her family hence what we see in this generation. Everyone seems to believe that life is or would be better if they minded their own business but when I was a child Miss Mary down the hill would give my single mother a heads up about whatever I did (or she would discipline me herself!) and my mother would discipline me at once!
We no longer have the village watching over the children of the family and today dysfunction is the order of the day. The village preference of whispering has taken hold leaving an already tenuous situation hanging in the balance; leaving the burden of responsibility for raising these children solely on her shoulders! It is her fault the children and ultimately the society is the way it is but I ask where are the fathers? Where are the aunties and grandparents? As a society we have a collective responsibility towards children as such we are all equally to blame for the outcomes we see today.
People have said to me personally that a single mother isn’t reliable so they wouldn’t call her to hang out with them because they know that she would say no to going out. It is the same with even dating them for men. To this I say that quite the opposite is true for most single mothers. She is a superhero when it comes to reliability because having children to maintain and handle alone earns a single mother her stripes because most step up to the challenge and do it well.
What people fail to understand is the circumstances surrounding her singleness as a mother and this is where I go back to my point about there being different classifications of single mothers. Not everyone chooses to be a single mother in the sense that she never set out to be so. Her situation may have forced her to become one and so she as any responsible adult rolls with the punches. She makes lemonade from the lemons!
A woman may have been married, co-habitating or even living apart from the father of her child(ren). He may have been a responsible adult and was doing right by his children but life happened. He probably was in the armed forces and was deployed to a war-torn country and died in the line of duty. Or he could have been on his way home from a long day at work and was carjacked and died or had an accident. The outcomes are all the same for her and the child; the death of a father and single motherhood bestowed on the mother.
Women exit abusive and toxic relationships every day and this is another reason that she has been forced to become a single mother. In this scenario however she may not receive assistance to help with the maintenance of the child(ren) because the father may have been incarcerated because of his violence towards her or because he chooses not to because his ego wouldn’t let him.
I alluded to choice a few paragraphs prior and this is another reason that women become single mothers. Some have had relationships with men that they feel they don’t need to return to because in their minds all men are the same. Her biological clock however ticks loudly in her ear and she chooses a partner to bear a child with or in more sophisticated westernized cultures she seeks medical treatment to have artificial insemination done after having chosen a viable specimen from a sperm bank.
No one knows the exact circumstances that led to a woman becoming a single mother in every case yet mouths open quickly to pass judgment on her as though she were some whore that chose this way of life for the “riches” that it would bring to her. Oh yes! Children are her meal ticket so she should have ten more!
For me as an individual caring about other people’s opinions of me left me when I lost my virginity. That was many moons ago! As a single mother I could care less about an opinion that does not add value to my life or my children’s nor pays any bill that I may have. They can say what they want and deny me what should be mine but it does not matter to me.
I have learned to march to the beat of my own drum; my heartbeat! What my heart tells me to do, say or think is my business and I listen to it. Other people’s opinions have no value to me unless I place value in them. The happiness of my children and their well being is all that matters to me. What I do for them and how I make them feel is what is important to me.
Single mothers are strong women who would give anything for their children’s happiness and survival. She would work three jobs just to put food on that table. If she thought that she could finish her education in order to provide a better life for her children, she would do that no matter the personal cost.
Single mothers are out here in this world grinding just so that people wouldn’t have to wash their mouths on her or her children but they still do. I have shut mouths a few times but I think that generally speaking people should not focus on the negatives so much that it breaks the single mother’s spirit but focus on the positives to help to build her and her children up. They are already in a vulnerable and disadvantaged situation so why not?
What’s it going to take from you to help her rather than see everything that is negative about her or her children? What is it going to take to change things so that we can have a more productive society? I’ll tell you what it would take. It would take nothing short of a miracle but I believe in miracles. We have to become ‘we’ again and we have to own up to all our shortcomings when it comes to single parents more so single mothers!
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