This is a bit of a rant but as a very reluctant single mother I feel I need to stand up for the majority of lone parents that didn’t choose to bring their children up on their own.

There has been a lot of media hype over the last few days about single parents, in particular, single mothers. The charity Gingerbread are campaigning to change the prejudice of single parent families. Apparently the average age of single parents is 36 years and only 2% of single parents are teenagers. I refuse to accept that anything other than the minority of lone parents on benefits are on them for any other reason than necessity. I would like to compare those numbers with families with two parents on benefits.

I have a chip on my shoulder…it’s a rather large one.

I hate that I am called a single parent. I hate that I have become a statistic and that I am now lumped into a category that the media typically portrays as scroungers.

Single Mothers on state benefits make ‘ lifestyle choice’ This article published just a couple of days ago on the site takes it findings from a study conducted by sociologist Mr Dench.

Mr Dench said: “It seems that lone motherhood is less a result of relationship breakdown, more a lifestyle choice.

“And the existence of state benefits as source of economic security seems to be encouraging young mothers not to bother with male resident partners.”

Although no numbers are provided the study apparently shows that the rates of married or co-habiting mothers  gaining employment has increased steadily and yet only a small rise for single mothers. It doesn’t mention that this may possibly be because  two incomes increases the likelihood of being able to afford childcare or that childcare is shared between the spouses. An option not available to single parents.

The study also found that the numbers of single mothers believing that “being a housewife is rewarding” has increased by 12% since a study carried out in 1990. So….for all those doing the unrewarding, worthless job of ‘home-maker’ take heed.  Or does this only apply if you are a ‘single mother’ ? So chip yes, you are getting bigger. I don’t understand why the question was asked, if they had said “no it’s not rewarding” I’m sure there would have been criticism over that too.

What a lot of these articles have in common is their focus on single mothers in particular, they forget that in most cases there was a man involved, a willing father. What is their role in helping ‘single’ mothers stay off benefits? Or their role in aiding their ex partners to hold down a job if necessary?

I chose to have five children with the support of my husband and with the intention of them being privately educated, therefore at no cost to the ‘state’. We made the decision together that I would stay at home to bring up our children thus relinquishing any career. My career prospects at the moment are zilch, I would be lucky to earn half of what my child care costs would be. That is if I could find a job that would fit around a school that finishes at 3pm. All of my choices have been taken away, three of my children have had to go into the state education system. I have no idea what the future holds for us, I will of course start studying at home to try and increase my chances of gaining employment as soon as I possibly can.

I think far too often women are vilified for inadvertently finding themselves left literally ‘holding the baby’, unsupported. This really has got to change.

I would like to state that I am not receiving any benefits.

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18 thoughts on “There’s a chip on my shoulder

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  9. I really don’t understand where this vilification of single parents comes from. Very few mothers choose to be single and surely the benefits exist for the same reason they are there for everyone: to help those who need them, not as encouragement to make a lifestyle choice to be single.

    It sounds like you are making the best of your situation and I hope you find a solution that suits you and your children for the future. x
    .-= ella´s last blog ..Tired dork =-.

    Posted on March 3, 2010 at 7:47 pm
    1. Thank you, I don’t understand it either. :0(
      .-= Nova´s last blog ..‘Beauty’- The Gallery =-.

      Posted on March 3, 2010 at 9:30 pm
  10. I’m in the final year of the degree – having been a full-time mum for 10 years…. WE decided that a degree was possible. I never meant to be one of “those women” who start on a degree course and ended up separated/divorced at the end. It seems I am however. I suppose it’s unsurprising, finding myself, finding what I expected at 21 I do not necessarily expect at 41 (married at 23…… we “all but” made 18 years). The sad thing, the daughters think they are now one of those people who will fail because they are in single parent homes (we do co parent – as much as his job will allow) They are so not – they have massive support from us both, from grandparents, from friends…… I’m luckier as mine are 11 and 13 – but will have the dilemma soon about pursuing a career or getting a job. Having been a full time mum the thought of having to find after school care for the children is hideous – and I do feel at 12 a child does need someone to come home to. My hope…. SOON single parents, single mothers in particular, will no longer be the problem, but instead be seen as part of the rich tapestry of society. How having a parent at home to support and nurture a child into a productive future is seen as a drain on the nation’s resources defeats me. Fortunately WE don’t need to be health and safety checked, CRB’d and are allowed to hug our own children…. childcare cannot do that.

    Posted on March 2, 2010 at 10:34 am
    1. Good luck in the last year of your degree. How sad that your daughters feel that way, they could only have got those worries from the media surely? I agree with someone being at home for a twelve year old, it’s sad that anyone ( government ) would expect anything else. :0(

      Posted on March 3, 2010 at 9:28 pm
  11. Great post. I think you are right in saying that the picture of single mothers needs to change. But teenagers on benefits make a much more exciting story then a woman in her 30s whose relationship has ended and can’t afford the cost of going back to work. And that sells papers. 🙁
    .-= Capital Mom´s last blog ..Happy =-.

    Posted on March 2, 2010 at 1:00 am
    1. You’re right, it’s very sad that the media home in on the negative all the time. :0(

      Posted on March 3, 2010 at 9:25 pm
  12. Great post Nova. I am also a single parent and I am currently on benefits due not only to my ‘label’ as a single parent but also due to health issues. Until Miss M (my second child) was 1, I had worked all my life, including while both myself and Mr B put ourselves through Uni. I hate being on benefits, but having recently looked at maybe returning to work part time I have realised it’s impossible for me to afford to do this as I would not earn enough, even with Tax Credits, to support myself and my children.

    My dream is to write that best seller as I am not currently well enough to work full time and that is the only way I could support my girls. I occasionally have money coming in from my blog which I can bring in under the term ‘permitted work’ but I am only allowed to earn a set amount so again it is difficult to build enough to live on so that I can be benefit free.

    My girls are 5 and 9 and therefore need me to be there to fetch them from school. They are too young to be latch key kids and to be honest I really don’t want that for them, so again this prevents me from taking on full time work at the moment even if I was healthy enough. I have felt pretty trapped at times but know I now need to out my drive into my children and my health so that when the time comes I can get out there and work and begin building a future for us again.

    I’m 35. I was with my ex for 13 years. I didn’t plan this, and I would much rather be in a happy, working relationship than alone but that wasn’t to be. I don’t need vilifying, I need understanding and support and hope and opportunity to change my predicament. At the moment there is very little of that.
    .-= Jo Beaufoix´s last blog ..When Kids Go Wrong =-.

    Posted on March 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm
    1. Thank you Jo, I was slightly nervous about posting this for fear of upsetting someone. I’m sorry you have health issues. Like you I want to be there for my children when they come home from school and as my youngest is still only two it’s going to be a while before I can do much. Lets hope things do change but I really can’t see that happening any time soon.

      Posted on March 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm
  13. I have joined the single parent on benefit club. I always intended to be moving up in the world and have taken a huge step back now that my husband has left me. As you say the cost of childcare is too high to make it worthwhile working in the jobs that fit in around the school run.

    I am not a statistic I am woman temporarily in need of state aid having been let down by the man I thought was my life partner!
    .-= Becky´s last blog ..Book Club – My Review of Lorna Doone =-.

    Posted on March 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm
    1. Dear Becky
      Too right, I hate being a statistic! We’ve both been let down. :0( x

      Posted on March 1, 2010 at 6:42 pm