Some of the news articles about single parents described and linked to in this post are clearly inspiring but others may surprise and alarm you. They aspire to broaden our perspective and understanding of single parents and their experiences worldwide.
If you have trouble getting to these links, feel free to email me at email@example.com and I’ll send PDFs of them to you.
Gender roles in Japan are so defined that when a father tries to console his daughter on a train, he attracts unwanted attention. He tweeted:
“A crowd of police officers got on board and started investigating me. Apparently, somebody had reported a serious possible kidnapping. There’s definitely prejudice against male parenting if a man alone with his children is considered strange.”
However, this reaction is warranted because so few fathers are involved in childrearing, creating major problems for single fathers. One single dad tweeted:
“I’ve had to confirm the blood relationship between me and my daughter when we checked into a hotel on vacation.”
When asked about the severity of the reaction to fathers tending to a disagreeable child in public, the responses were mixed:
“It’s not prejudice. It’s a fact that men are more likely to commit a crime against children.”
“Oh my gosh, what a disaster! But don’t blame the person who called the cops. Blame the society that marked men raising children as strange.”
With children caught in the crossfire, Japanese culture must undergo some changes to ensure both parents can be involved.
Through his opinion piece, a single mother confronts the mendacity behind a ban on single women’s access to in vitro fertilization. Several hospitals and medical groups in South East London justified their stance by claiming that solo parents and their children are a “burden on society” and the parents themselves are unable “to bring out the best outcomes for the child.” These false assertions parroted by the National Health Service are not new. The mythology of the nuclear family as the ideal has perpetuated this stigma; yet, the family dynamic has changed during the past few decades with children and parents who are thriving. The author found these assumptions unsettling and researched whether a one-parent family actually was destabilizing for children. She discovered through her interviews:
“Unlike children of divorced parents — who can suffer because of parental conflict before, during and after their parents’ divorce, and from a drop in financial circumstances — there is no difference between children in one-parent and two-parent families.”
This insight informed her position that solo parenting in a loving home could benefit children. In her book, the writer recounts the fear, anxiety, excitement and judgment she experienced as she pursued IVF and solo parenting.
The selection of names for Kenyan children has undergone some substantial changes, suggesting that people may be losing confidence in their culture. As a result, this writer is proposing a naming policy for this African nation. During the past several decades, names have been chosen because of religious, tribal, gender and foreign cultural influences. For example, children of single parents in Central Kenya are given their mother’s surname, a trend the author opposes. Without a naming policy, the writer fears that the Kenyan culture and mannerisms could face “extinction.” Perhaps, these changes indicate an evolution in the culture, giving rise to more voices and a shift away from gender inequality.
The German parliament may legalize non-commercial surrogacy and egg donations and allow single parents and LGBTQ couples access to fertility treatment. This push to reform the Embryo Protection Act 1990 comes on the heels of marriage equality and the recognition of various family households. At this time, “the woman who is not the birth mother cannot be recognized as the child’s parent from birth. The sperm provider must sign legal documents giving up parental rights, and then the mother’s spouse must adopt the child through a process designed for the adoption of stepchildren. In contrast, a man whose wife conceives using donor sperm will be recognized as the child’s father from birth.” And surrogacy includes criminal sanctions for doctors who inseminate or transfer an embryo from a woman who wants to give her baby to another person permanently. Assisted reproduction has a long way to go.
The distribution of taxpayer-funded benefits involves some sort of process in which the intended recipient is scrutinized to prevent fraud. However, one country seems to have taken this inquiry a bit too far. In Japan, single mothers seeking a childcare allowance must complete a questionnaire with several highly personal questions and sign a pledge that they will inform municipal employees if they become pregnant. One of the criteria complicating this issue for single mothers involves common law marriage. Japan does not have a clear law on it; instead, local governments determine the parameters of common-law marriage. For example, in one community, single mothers who visit a partner may be considered in a de facto marriage depending on the frequency of visits. As such, if the single mother is found to be in a common-law marriage, she could lose this aid.
Women fleeing the rape and murder of Muslims in Myanmar — essentially, ethnic cleansing — are trying to support themselves financially in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. The cooperative, Testimony Tailors, resulted from the efforts of nongovernment agencies and charities to help women develop skills, such as sewing, that would allow them to be financially independent. However, a new old threat has emerged: the conservative Islamic society’s resistance to women working and being leaders. Despite this campaign of harassment and violence within the refugee camps, many women need to work because women run so many households and there are no immediate indications that they can leave the camps soon.
Divorced single parents may find this information about employer-sponsored benefits interesting. Many husbands in Kenya do not list their wives as the next of kin; rather, they name their mothers, children or both:
“Women rarely list their mothers, [or parents for that matter] as their next of kin unless they are single parents. But most men, married or not, tend to award their mothers a percentage of their dues.”
In these cases, the men do not trust the stability of the marriage or are simply closer to their mothers. Women with similar reservations about the marriage are more likely to name their children their next of kin to ensure they are taken care of.
This article examines how family dynamics and gender equality are integral to ensuring robust socioeconomic outcomes globally. About one-third of households adhere to the nuclear family model with the remaining ones being a mix of multigenerational or extended family members as well as those being led by single parents. Income differences add another layer of complexity. Single parents tend to earn less than a dual-parent household, but women who are cohabitating or married face a loss of independent income when they provide unpaid caregiving. Not only are they not reimbursed for their work, but also the latter group loses certain advantages, such as the ability to leave abusive relationships. For women to achieve economic autonomy, early childhood education and childcare must be provided. With these advancements come jobs and youth who are better prepared for school. In addition, social protections, such as paid leave and childcare allowances, must be instituted to compensate for the loss of income women endure.
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent. Every fourth Thursday, instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.
I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send any comments and questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also on Twitter @parentsonurown and can be found by searching #singleparentandstrong.