Stereotypes that all single parents must discard
“Hi, my name is Alice, I come from Nairobi, I work as a receptionist and I am a single mother of two.”
“Hi, my name is Brian, I come from Mombasa and I am a single father of three.”
There is no shame in being a single parent. In fact, there is no problem about it because life and circumstances happen to everyone. It does, however, become a problem when it becomes an introduction of who a person is.
The phrase “I’m a single mother/father” becomes a problem when people misuse them as pronouns to identify themselves- unnecessarily sharing about their personal life circumstances to people who have no use for that information. Simply, you are a parent. Leave it at that.
Some of these single parents live up to the stereotypes painted about them, milking and manipulating situations to their favor just because they are single and happen to have children.
Nairobi News samples some of the stereotypes single parents need to discard:
- That they are financially incapacitated compared to single, childless people or married couples with children. You will never miss some characters on social media who define their lives by being a single parent and using that as an excuse for why they haven’t achieved financial goals. They also use this to seek sympathy from well wishers. Ironically, there are some single parents who are well off than couples in a relationship and have children. You will find them living from paycheck to paycheck as opposed to some single parents who run well paying businesses or have good jobs. What excuse will some single parents use in light of this?
- That they are exhausted more than households with two parents because they have no help in raising their children. A parent can get exhausted raising their children and handling their daily needs regardless of whether they are single or not. Kids take a lot of energy from their guardians and in some of these nuclear homes, you will find that one parent often has to work to support the family. Some single parents use this as a crutch to get off work early, beg for unpaid assistance or make their situations sound worse than they actually are.
- The angry and bitter narrative to justify some of their behaviors. Some single parents will behave badly and use their life situation to excuse themselves. For example, they began drinking heavily because they are bitter at how they ended up being a single parent, they hate men/women because being left by a co-parent makes them angry and so forth. You can choose to be happy for yourself and set your kids on a path of happiness as well. You can choose to be positive about life, you can choose to be free from that anger, bitterness and accompanying regrets. You are not chained to them.
- That they are a financial and emotional burden to the dating scene. There are some people out there who will love a person whether or not they have children or not. Single parents must stop whining about fears of returning to the dating pool because they will be judged. When you meet someone, introduce yourself…hit them with the highlights and make sure to mention you have children because no one likes unexpected surprises. There are many married couples out there where a partner got married with kids from previous relationships. What will you do if someone stays interested in you after mentioning your children.
It is important to note that each single parent’s experience is unique, and not all single parents may have the means or opportunities to challenge and drop stereotypes in the same way.
Regardless, it never hurts to try and live a normal life without defining your life by the nature of your relationship status and children. You are an individual first before a parent.