As a parent, most of us put our kids needs first. For instance, we wouldn’t say to your 11 year old that he can’t play his soccer match this week because you want to go out with some friends. Their timetable and their life dictates your life, and yes, you are the one who organised him to play soccer in the first place, and encouraged it, so you have to make sure that he gets to the game and watch it, so that you can be proud of his achievements, and be there when he gets an injury. It’s what parents do.
But as a separated family, the responsibility of the planned activities for your children is usually left to the one parent and there is a stigma for the other parent to think that one parent is dictating, or controlling the lives of the children and the other parent doesn’t want to be controlled by their ex-partner anymore, so they refuse to be involved.
Some families are lucky, and have amicable relationships with their ex-partners, share the costs of raising their children together, have equal time with their children, enabling each parent to have a life outside their family unit and are able to have a balanced life. Others, those who have their children 100% of the time, are generally given smaller support payments, have no physical support and have rare or no contact with their children’s other parent. It’s contact that becomes more intrusive than productive. But the parent who has the 100% custody has no life of their own as they spend all their time working to survive, take care of their children and the general housework/accounting needed to run a household. There’s no spare money to hire a babysitter, not enough hours in the day to do everything and they wake up each morning to exist, not live. Most understand it’s a temporary situation until their children are old enough to be more independent and maybe start contributing to the household financially, but others can’t see any light.
Statistics show that 30% of single parents receive less than $150 per child per month from their children’s non-custodial parent and around half of the children in separated families have less than monthly contact with their non-custodial parent. So essentially, 50% of the custodial parents are having no personal time, no social life and no support. Some of the custodial parents have families to fall back on, but there is a large percentage who don’t, therefore don’t have the time, effort or opportunity to find someone new in their lives or just enjoy their friends without their kids at their heels.
So when someone says they are a single parent, ask them how often they have their kids and how much support they get, and then show them as much compassion as they deserve… because single parents are the unsung heroes of this world, and they need to feel loved and appreciated too…