What Gilmore Girls Gets Right About Single Parents

Recently, like the rest of the world, I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls. Goodness knows why I’ve never seen it before – it’s precisely the kind of easy-to-watch bingeable TV I enjoy – made all the more relevant as the main storylines focus on a single mother and her relationship with her daughter.

Four years ago when I first became a single parent I would never have believed what the future would hold – especially as I had yet to watch Gilmore Girls (yeah yeah, I know it’s fiction but…). Back then I’d been left left a woman who had never been alone, had never made a big decision without consulting her husband, who was vulnerable and weak and scared. Looking back I was a totally different person.

Not one part of me ever imagined bringing up kids alone could be a fun or positive experience, and I’m sure the majority of people think this too. Whenever I’m trolled on Twitter (which isn’t often, thankfully) it’s usually something derogatory about parenting: I had someone tweet at me “single parent, I can see why LOL” last night. Which just makes me chuckle because that’s like saying to me “LOL look at you so happy and accomplished”.

Ok dude, hit me where it hurts.

Don’t get me wrong, being a single parent is not the easiest path to take. But it most certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world, and Gilmore Girls hit so many happy nails on the head for me. Here’s what they get entirely on-the-nose:

snapfish christmas card

You become best friends with your daughter (or son)
This is so true. Elfie and I frustrate each other often because we operate entirely on the same wavelength: much like my own mum and I (or Lorelai and Rory!). We’re best friends, we’re genetically similar, our thought processes and feelings behave the same. The three of us together are a nightmare ;)

Elfie and I have a special bond that I wonder would be there if I wasn’t a single parent, and much like Lorelai and Rory we truly share pizza or tubs of ice cream while we watch movies on the sofa. She tells me stuff, I tell her stuff, we cuddle and love. It’s awesome.

I have a special bond with Hux, too, as he does with his sister. If she’s in trouble he stands up for her – at four years old this is so sweet – and as there’s no other man in our house he is unequivocally our number one guy.

Your kids are just as well brought up as if they had two parents at home
Being complimented on how polite, funny and clever my children are makes me so proud because I know that is directly a product of me. They are genuinely lovely children and are totally adored in and outside of the family.

Living with only one of their parents hasn’t diminished their intelligence or their love for learning, their senses of humour or how loving they are. They’re basically normal, amazing kids.  I hate the consensus that kids from one-parent families are somehow emotionally deprived or disadvantaged – this isn’t true of my children at all.

You can be driven in your career
I’ve never had more work-based dreams than I do now, and I’m sure many of these have been born from a necessity to provide for my family – alone. I used to worry how I’d make enough money to support us all, but now conversely I enjoy being the only fiscally responsible adult in the house. The buck stops with me (literally) when it comes to bringing in money, but I also have an incredible amount of freedom when it comes to spending. If I have a great month at work and want to buy a Bella Freud jumper – that’s on me. And it’s awesome.

It can be character-building
You can’t argue with the fact that Lorelai is an incredibly strong character and I’d wager that’s something that happens when you parent on your own. An adult makes around 35,000 remotely conscious decisions daily and when parenting solo these are pretty much all made alone. The pressure of deciding alone what happens when it comes to the big things – schooling, holidays, living situation – means you grow an extra layer of metaphorical skin. I’m definitely harder and less emotional where it matters and suffer fools way less gladly.

gilmore girls single parenting

Your kids are little grown-ups
Lorelai and Rory undeniably have a relationship that is not just on the mother-daughter level, but a friendship one, too. I get that: when you’re the only adult in your house you most definitely treat your kids like friends or mini room-mates. For example, I expect mine to help out around the house to the best of their little abilities: they take their plates to the dishwasher, tidy up after themselves and make their own beds. I’m not sure I’d place this responsibility on such young kids if I wasn’t a single parent.

Now, one thing I don’t agree with is the amount of binge eating that goes on in the Gilmore household. Either those two don’t actually eat all the food they buy or they have some seriously crazy metabolisms. Either way, single parenting does not make it possible to eat burgers and pizzas every day and stay a slim and toned size six. Trust me, I’ve tried it and have the Deliveroo account to prove it. Damn.

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  1. Joanna Frangos wrote:

    Hi Alice
    thanks for your lovely warm post. I don’t watch the Gilmore Girls so have no idea about the references to the characters etc. However, I am a single parent and I take a slightly different path to you. Maybe because my ex and I have always been amicable and we share looking after the children 50/50, but I do not want my children to be my best friends. No way. They are my children. They need to know that I am their mummy. I know exactly what you mean about cosying up on the sofa and sharing the day (I do this with both of mine) but I definitely keep a boundary for them around me being their mummy. In my experience and my awareness, children need firm boundaries and holding. My role as their mummy is really to teach, coach and give them consequences when they misbehave. If I slip into that friend role, however, it’s virtually impossible to lay down the law and set limits on their inappropriate behaviour. Also over-sharing information with them blurs boundaries and confuses them. They grow up too quickly, thinking that they are responsible for my feelings. I don’t want my children to think they have to be there for me.
    This is just how I navigate being a parent. I don’t always get it right, by any means. And I guess at 12 and nearly 10, my children are changing and developing scarily fast. My intent for them is that they have a childhood for as long as possible.

    Posted 12.6.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Hi Joanna! It’s really interesting to hear your POV – though I am definitely more on a friends level with the children than I think I would be if there was Dad in the house we still absolutely have our boundaries and discipline. It’s given me food for thought; I don’t think being matey with your children and discipline is mutually exclusive, in fact sometimes I think I am a bit too hard in that respect (I like to be quite black and white – i.e. these are the rules, if they get broken there are consequences). I think that our relationship being what it is, when I do get cross they are often scared into submission because they KNOW something’s wrong!

      I was reading an interesting comment on an article last night that was similar to what you’ve also said about children being responsible for adults feelings. I agree with you that they shouldn’t have to feel this when they’re so young – they’re kids and can’t grasp complex adult emotions and feelings and should not feel any sort of responsibility for their parents’ feelings at all. Let them be children as long as possible! x

      Posted 12.6.16 Reply
  2. I’ve never seen Gilmore Girls (I know, I’m the only one, I reckon) but love this post and you do such an awesome job with your children, it’s plain for all to see. I do think it’s possible to be friends with your children and have boundaries, as you say, totally! Anyway – will watch GG at some point.

    Posted 12.7.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ahh thank you Gill. And yes, do watch it. It’s brilliant!!x

      Posted 12.11.16 Reply
  3. lori wrote:

    I love this post an not only does it make me think how courageous you are to take those steps in the first place but it is making me want ot watch gilmore girls and eat take out ;) Basically ace all round. x

    Posted 12.7.16 Reply
  4. Molly wrote:

    Love this post Alice. Am a total Gilmore Girls fan! Also – pyjama goals!

    Posted 12.7.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      aren’t they fab?! All M&S!!

      Posted 12.11.16 Reply
  5. Tasha Marie wrote:

    Awesome post. I am a former single momma, and I can relate so well, it’s such an amazing feeling to be self sufficient and the one making it happen, I can tell you too, this stuff will be invaluable when and if you decide to date again. It’s amazing how high your standards become when you need nothing from noone. I got myself a really awesome man that way and kicked a lot of them to the curb very easily than I think my former self would have. Good luck!

    Posted 12.8.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Love this Tasha – you’re so right about the high standards!

      Posted 12.11.16 Reply
  6. Love this. Sometimes single parenting sucks but there are many times ever single day that I also realise it’s one of the most awesome things and love how close me and my son are.

    Posted 12.8.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      I totally agree :)

      Posted 12.11.16 Reply
  7. I love this post Alice! Gilmore girls is my favourite ever show, and I love your take on it.

    Posted 12.10.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Thanks, Chloe! I can’t believe I’ve never seen it before. All those wasted years I could have spent in front of the TV watching!

      Posted 12.11.16 Reply