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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send PDFs of them to you.
The government in South Korea is considering allowing single people to adopt children legally, but concerns over adoptive parents possibly abusing these children, incidents of which have been reported in the media, are raising controversy. Currently, couples must be married for three years before being permitted to adopt a child. If the law is passed as it stands, single people would need to meet “certain requirements proving their capability of raising a child.” A Ministry of Justice task force, organized to create single-parent policies, has found that single parents are as “capable as married people of raising children.” Despite the task force’s findings, the public response was mixed with some advocating the traditional family approach while others pointing to recent accounts of children being abused and killed at the hands of a single parent.
Cultural, economic and political developments surrounding single parents in South Korea have been included in my recent news columns, indicating a shift in attitude toward this particular family structure. Among the topics are outreach to migrant, single mothers; challenges to citizenship after divorce; and hurdles to registering a child if the single parent is a father.
Male and female cadets and midshipmen alike in the Air Force, Naval, Military, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine academies cannot have a child while attending as a student. Unplanned pregnancies have led these men and women to seek abortions, lose rights to their children permanently or temporarily, or be expelled and pursue another career path. If passed, the Candidates Afforded Dignity, Equality and Training (CADET) Act would prevent these military academies from disenrolling students who become pregnant or father a child during their time at school. However, the bill would not change the more disturbing rules impacting these young parents and their children. Unaffected is the inability of these parents to have sole or physical custody of their children while attending one of these academies. The bill would allow cadets “to temporarily name guardians for their children, such as their own parents or siblings, or grant full but temporary parental rights over to non-cadet parents.” This part of the bill, however, is fraught with problems, including the cost to give up custody and then regain it in the courts, the failure of the custodial parent to relinquish their rights to the biological parent, and the loss of shared experiences with the child as they mature.
The majority of students pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree must seek financial aid; for some, it’s grants or scholarships, for others, it’s loans. Student loan debt, unfortunately, affects women in the United States disproportionately, according to the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit that advances equity for women and girls through research, advocacy and education. Women tend to owe more than men and the amount depends on race. Because some financial assistance pays for student expenses, single mothers must factor in their children’s needs, including child care and the lack of on-campus support, creating a more substantial debt load, and that amount depends on race.
Finally, once women graduate and begin paying back their student loans, they are confronted with the gendered wage gap and that gap is worse depending on race. These financial challenges cause many women to default on their loans and the extent depends on race. Unfortunately, in each of the aforementioned circumstances, Black women fare worse. Despite these findings, women should pursue higher education because without it, they make substantially less income than men and the amount depends on race.
Single mothers who conceive their children through in vitro fertilization, considered an assisted reproductive technology (ART), no longer must provide information about the father on the child’s birth certificate, according to a ruling by the High Court in Kerala in Kochi, India. The court raised this key point in its decision:
“Having conceived through ART procedure, the identity of the sperm donor cannot be disclosed except in circumstances as may be compelled for, under law. It falls within the realm of the ‘right of privacy.’”
Because of this ruling, the government must provide separate birth and death certificates that do not include questions requesting information about the biological father. In turn, the single mother should provide an affidavit verifying that she conceived through an ART procedure.
The Australian government initiated a program to help single parents purchase a house, but it may not be as effective as officials had hoped. Family Home Guarantee, the national program launched in July, aimed to help 10,000 single parents by changing some lending rules. Among the eligibility requirements was the number of children considered a full-time dependent of the single parent. Because many parents share physical custody of their children, “banks deemed some parents poorer than they actually were, disqualifying them from larger loans or leaving them susceptible to higher interest rates,” said Gillian Hunt, CEO of Parents Beyond Breakup, a national advocacy organization. Despite this development, the program has drawn attention to a uniquely struggling demographic who must support dual households in a limited housing market.
Child care took a substantial hit during the pandemic as many facilities closed temporarily or permanently, but in some areas of the country, particularly the Appalachia region in Ohio, child care has been a struggle even before COVID-19 emerged. Many single parents can’t afford child care, can’t travel to a center or don’t live in an area with one, creating so-called “deserts.” The situation is even worse for parents with children who have special needs. Many single parents are excluded from state assistance because of Ohio’s income rules, don’t have access to a personal vehicle and work shifts outside the 9 to 5 workday. In April 2021, Athens County launched a pilot program where trained aides provide in-home child care during nontraditional work hours in southeast Ohio. The per-hour pay for these caregivers, who would otherwise not be paid for this service, began at $13 but is expected to increase to $15. Not only does this program help single parents but it also creates a pool of trained individuals who could work as substitute teachers in day care centers.
The United Kingdom’s government made a controversial decision to reduce benefits paid to individuals younger than 25 through its Universal Credit program. One Parent Families Scotland, a charity that fights for single parents, is leading a campaign to reverse this policy, an example of age-based inequality. Satwat Rehman, chief executive of One Parent Families Scotland, challenged the UK’s reasoning:
“The Government says under-25s are more likely to live in someone else’s household, but this woefully misunderstands the reality of young parents’ lives.
“Around two-thirds of under-25s claiming Housing Benefit themselves — and therefore living independently — are parents with young children, and nearly three-quarters of young people claiming Housing Benefit are women, precisely because young women are more likely to have dependent children. In our many years of supporting young parents, overwhelmingly young women, we could count on one hand the number who were living with their parents.”
Dubbed the Young Parent Penalty, this policy could push several thousand children into poverty.
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent.
Starting the summer of 2021, my son, Joseph, is writing a monthly column titled In My Son’s Words where he describes his experiences as a teenager and as a child of a single parent.
Twice a month, instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.