Single Parent Positivity

single mums

I finally realised how under-represented single parents are in our society when I last upgraded my iPhone’s OS. The Emoji keyboard updates caused celebrations on Social Media because AT LAST! Alternative families were finally represented in teeny tiny cartoon form. Two mums and a child – brilliant! Gay fathers with boy and a girl babies – excellent! But where were the single parents? Despite a quarter of children in the UK being raised in one-parent families, according to my Emoji keyboard my family type does not exist. I can’t text my friends a miniscule cartoon depiction of my two children and I and that makes me sad. *insert crying face Emoji*

The UK media and entertainment industries are guilty of sidelining single parents, too. Think of the last thing you read about single parents in the papers: I fully expect the piece had a negative slant or was some blathering about single mums struggling on benefits. Or the last single mum or dad you saw on TV… mine was Doctor Foster, who started off in a marriage but became a single mum because the alternative was to murder her philanderer of a husband, whoops.

She had great hair and a banging wardrobe though, so we’ll forgive her.

single mums

I feel there is always a negative portrayal of single parents – particularly mums. They’re benefit scroungers, lazy, work shy. The contestants coming from single parent families are always the sob stories on the X Factor, they’re being evicted from their homes on debt collector documentaries, they’re spending their benefits on TVs in the Daily Mail.

But what about those of us who are holding it together? The ones who work hard at being single mums and bringing home the bacon? The ones who run homes and raise families and start businesses, who make sure their kids don’t lack for anything – but singularly, not part of a couple? Why is this such a foreign concept in our society?

I have to admit I don’t watch soaps (I’m a single parent so don’t have the time ;) so don’t know what the portrayal of us lot are like over there. But I have found myself on the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame once or twice and can report it’s no single parent party.

We are definitely lacking coverage of positive single parent celebrity role models – remember Chantelle Houghton, who instead of being praised for the dignified way she handled her transition to single motherhood got roped over the coals because of her ex’s trans-dressing preferences… or Myleene Klass, whose divorce was seen to be way more newsworthy than the fact she’s a strong single working mum? Quite frankly, it stinks.

single mums

In my opinion the way single mums are portrayed definitely has a knock-on effect of single mothers feeling embarrassed about their status. I think I would have been quicker to face up to my marriage breaking down had I not felt terrified of becoming a single parent – something I saw as shameful, hopeless and in the bottom echelons of society.

In actual fact it’s been a growing experience, an empowering and important time that has taught me to work hard and love my children fiercely. I will never say that I am a mum AND dad to them; they might have to FaceTime those important milestones with their dad and spend limited time with them but he is still an important presence in their lives. However, I think I represent more strength and omnipresence in my love to them than I would had I still been married. They don’t want or need for anything in their lives and that is down to me.

Single parenthood has also forced me to push myself to success in my professional capacity and I’m proud and happy to support our household on my earnings rather than relying on the state. I don’t have Myleene Klass’s millions (or her abs, let’s face it) but I do believe we share a hunger to succeed for the sake of our children’s future.

I wonder what I can do to change the way the world thinks about single parents. Start a Twitter hashtag movement? Write to the Prime Minister? Write a positive single parenting screenplay and sell it to the BBC?

For now I am happy to write in my own little bubble, telling the world our story and feeling happy in the knowledge that we’re doing it right and positively. The rest will follow.

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  • I totally agree with everything you say. This year my husband walked out on me and my 11 and 7 year old. I get the sympathy vote off people like “how do you cope” the truth is I’ve been doing it alone for a few years now whilst my husband worked away. I’m proud to say I work part time, with help from tax credits and am there morning and night for my two children. We have great weekends and enjoy doing so much as a 3!! who needs men!! ps. love you blog x

    • I’m sorry to hear that Jenny, hope it was for the best for you. I am the same – when people ask ‘how do you cope?’ I always say that you just do what you have to do. It wasn’t much of a transition for me either, my ex worked away a lot as well, but I do miss being able to pop out in the evening after bedtime for some milk (or wine!) on a whim! x

  • i have to say alice, i think you are freakin’ AWESOME and you can (and will) do whatever you want and make your dreams come true. of course there will be rough times, but from what i know of you, you are kind and strong and you got this ????.

  • Love this Alice, I think (most) single parents rock! I’m married but still find it bloody hard managing the day-to-day with a 3 and 4 year old, so my hat goes off to those doing it alone the majority (or all) of the time, especially managing those finances. My parenting hero is the Mum of Freddie’s best friend, who has been a single parent since her little boy was 15 months. She has a part time job, runs a lovely home, drives a (modified) car and has a banging social life- she does all this with one arm (she lost the arm aged 7 to childhood cancer). I think she’s incredible, and is a brilliant, positive role model- I truly have no idea how she manages so well, I need both hands at the best of times!

  • Thank you Alice, it sums up exactly how I feel about being a single parent and it’s so good to see something positive about it in the media!

  • I completely agree! There needs to be more positive press about single parents. Although I often find that I myself can be my own worst enemy. I have this constant battle between feeling like an amazing working single mum to my 3 yr old, to then feeling completely guilty for being the parent who made the decision to leave 2 years ago (despite knowing that staying was going to do more harm than good for everyone). When I recently had to move flats in London I was constantly faced with people’s prejudices because I am on benefits (despite working 30 hrs a week) and was not seen as a reliable solid tenant despite never missing a rent payment since I became a single parent. Sorry for the rant. I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for keeping me inspired!

    • What a nightmare Kirsty! I agree, I have the battle as well. But at the end of the day I just about convince myself I am doing the right thing :) I hope you do too! xx

  • I think you’re an amazing role model for mums everywhere regardless of whether they’re single or married or whatever. I aspire to be a mum that’s more like you, because from what I can see you’re doing a more than incredible job xx

  • I hadn’t ever thought of it like that but it’s so true and I can completely understand why it makes you angry. You are doing an amazing job and I kind of know what you mean about being better than if you were in a relationship, I find that if Mr C is here I get quite lazy and let him do a lot but if say he goes away for the weekend I really embrace doing it all myself and it feels kind of good, although don’t get me wrong I’m not denying how hard it must be to do that all the time. Start a campaign to get that emoji added!! x

  • Love your post! I agree, I wish there were more positive representations of single parents in the media. And not just for my benefit but my two kids are 6 and 3 and rarely do I see anything on kids tv that represents their family and not just the mum, dad and kids norm. Admittedly we only have free view so there could be tons of stuff I’m missing!! Xx

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