Single parents take a bow

Single Parents Take a Bow

by Paul Osei-Owusu

Single parents take a bow, a round of applause, a standing ovation

What is a single parent?

A single parent, sometimes called a solo parent, is someone who is bringing up a child or children on their own, because the other parent is not living with them.

Unequivocally the hardest job on the planet is parenting. Any parent or person who has had the privilege (yes I did say privilege, children are gifts) and responsibility of looking after children will attest to this. At the best of times when two people are working in tandem, or as a finely oiled locomotive steam engine, it is an impossible job. I can only stand back in awe of single parents!

The general misconception within our society and of our policymakers is that a single parent’s home is a broken home or that single parents live off the state. Around the world austerity is bringing all sections of society to their knees; services and resources which once upon a time were available to families are disappearing off the face of the earth. How does a couple, let alone a single parent, cope?

I for one disagree with this negative, narrow minded view about single parents and could counter it with endless stories of broken homes where two parents exist and are heavily state dependent. What I care to focus on is parenting, and how a single parent gets by, when my wife and I have to become a double act just to keep afloat. Single parents this is why I have respect for you:

  • How is it that we have four hands, when you only have two, yet we could still do with additional hands?
  • How am I able to provide my wife with respite by winding our child in the middle of the night once she has breastfed, when you not only have to do the feeding but also the unpredictable winding and soothing that is required, yet we wake up feeling like we have not slept all night?
  • How are we able to allow the other to sleep in, when you’re on call all night and day, yet we feel out of it come 4pm?
  • How is it that either one of us are able to stimulate our kids, when you have to be flexible with your day, yet we find ourselves turning the TV on for a break?
  • How is it that even at the weekends when both of us are in the house we never manage to get tea in on time, when you manage to match us or get tea in on time, yet we point fingers at each other, as if we have lost time in the day?
  • How is it that we tackle the dreaded airport run/flight together, when you just up and go and deal with consequences (if any) as they come, yet we have a five-point-plan that never works out and leaves us both drained?
  • How is it that both our minds are required to teach our kids, when I am guessing you do this all alone, yet with all our efforts your kids still achieve very well?
  • How is it that there are two of us attending to the house, when there is only you taking care of yours, yet our house is always a tip when the kids have had a day of excitement?

I think the job that single parents do does not get enough credit and far too often negativity is all we hear.

In 2013 a close friend of mine wrote a response to a negative article in the Mail Online about single parents, saying

I’ve provided for my daughter, rather than rely on the state and in a month’s time I’ll start a law degree. I’m not the hopeless case the media loves to parade. In watching me work a 40 hour week, maintain our house and study all evening, my daughter is learning valuable lessons about hard work, perseverance and the importance of education.

Whilst I agree with elements of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s article, which is peppered with strong statistical facts about absent fathers (who are criminals, drug addicts, and self-harmers) and the dependence of the mothers on the state. I feel that this narrative is an easy get out of jail card, and that there exist underlying deep-rooted complex issues which are closely intertwined. Beth Johnston’s response argues that a new wave of single parents are fighting against the odds to make a life for themselves as well as ensuring that their kids are not disadvantaged!


  • Collins Dictionary, website accessed 19th October 2015
  • Daily Mail, Wednesday 17 July 2013. I am proof that you can’t condemn all single mothers.
  • Daily Mail Online, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. 2013. My week in the man desert: In some parts of Britain, 70% of children live without fathers. Accessed 19 October 15
  • Wikipedia, website accessed 19th October 2015

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