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.
This powerful article analyzes why many Black parents, including single parents, are resisting their children’s return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. While white parents have dominated the headlines with their clamors for schools to open, many Black parents are skeptical that schools can provide in-school instruction safely.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that less than half of Black parents and 62 percent of white parents support schools reopening this fall. A Pew Research survey pushed further to reveal that 80 percent of Black adults and 51 percent of white adults wanted their children to stay remote until teachers were vaccinated. These surveys corroborate the historical disparities and mounting institutional mistrust so commonplace in Black communities nationwide.
Through interviews with leaders and activists, this article presents parents engaging more with their children’s lives and children self-directing their learning as long as their schools or school districts can provide the necessary technology. This virtual learning environment seems to have provided a safe haven for children away from the country’s brutish systemic racism resulting in inadequate school buildings and educational inequities. Community activist Tanesha Grant from Harlem, NY, described a system that has earned this distrust:
“If they didn’t keep my children safe before COVID, why would I think that they would now? All the pandemic has done is made a situation that was already horrible almost unbearable … These buildings are old and don’t have proper ventilation. They don’t have the supplies they need, and they don’t even have nurses.”
Black parents’ reservations have been further reinforced by the coronavirus’ disproportionate effect on communities of color. The CDC in September stated that that 29 percent of Black youth younger than 21 died from COVID-19, double the number of white youths. The agency added that Black children younger than 18 are almost four times higher than white children to be at a significantly higher risk of hospitalization. With the Black community facing these realities, it’s no wonder that so many Black parents prefer that schools open when they are safe.
When our country and its institutions call upon us, we should be willing and able to serve. But, what if single parents can’t? What if we don’t have the financial reserves or family support to help us? The inequities single parents endure were never more glaring than when viewed through the civic responsibility of jury duty. Not everyone works for employers who will reimburse them for responding to a court’s summons for jury duty (Minnesota pays $20 per day; rates differ among states). Not everyone has child care or family members or friends who can watch their children, especially if they are sequestered for days or weeks. Mary Moriarty, a former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender in Minnesota explained further:
“It’s not fair to them because they wanted to be on jury duty; it’s also not fair to the accused or. I suppose, the state because you’re not getting that perspective.”
Without these individuals able to deliberate cases, how representative are our juries? Are juries truly a reflection of the community’s conscience? These questions suggest that the constraints created through socio-economic inequities could lead to even greater injustices impacting society as a whole and legal precedents that affect future legislation.
Women who are refugees experience unique socio-economic challenges and barriers, especially single mothers. In Canada, the Syrian Canadian Foundation joined Jumpstart Refugee Talent to establish HER Startup. This program supports women who aspire to be entrepreneurs through customized programs that meet women from various countries where they are when they arrive in Canada. Among the services this group provides are employment coaching, networking, connections to employment opportunities, childcare, housing, technology and transportation. Four women recently received $100,000 in seed money to start Kangaroo, an artificial intelligence-powered app that connects parents to affordable, licensed child care services.
Single mothers are among the 10 million Americans who would have been evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic if it were not for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions. Children are expensive, especially for single mothers living from one paycheck to paycheck and single mothers who are women of color who earn less than white women. So many women are unemployed or underemployed since the pandemic started that their meager financial safety nets are even more fragile or close to nonexistent. These dire circumstances merely compound the prevailing reasons landlords have used to evict single parents. These excuses include noise complaints, property damage, lead paint hazards resulting in lawsuits and child services calls. Many single mothers are anxious about the moratorium’s expiration set for March 31, 2021, but the CDC is taking steps to extend the order, according to a news report by NPR.
Several countries are experiencing a significant decline in birth rates despite the anticipated baby boom of the COVID-19 pandemic. This baby bust in Asia has inspired interesting responses from some countries. South Korea’s government is exploring strengthening single-parent and nontraditional families, including unmarried couples with children and same-sex families, who have not been recognized by the state. China, on the other hand, is making divorce more difficult for couples and espousing traditional and often sexist ideas of family.
Since 1981, Hungary’s population has been experiencing a downward trend, resulting in officials pushing family-friendly policies. One such development is the creation of centers where single parents can receive services, including help with writing resumes, finding employment and seeking legal advice.
Hungarian Minister for Families Katalin Novák discusses the impact of declining birth rates for her country in this interview. I found some of her insights around certain issues a bit unsettling. For example, she comments on how having children and creating families has been viewed unfavorably and how women are putting careers first during childbearing years. It reminded me of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
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 email@example.com. I am also on Twitter @parentsonurown and can be found by searching #singleparentandstrong.