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.
States use two approaches when calculating child support: the income shares model and the percentage of income model. The majority in the United States employs the former in which the income of both parents is considered in covering the needs of the children. Only 14 states, including Mississippi, use the later method with some variation in which only the noncustodial parent’s income is used. A bill in the Mississippi legislature that would have modified this calculation did not move forward. Apparently, the state uses the percentage of income model because the custodial parents are typically women and poor because of unemployment or underemployment and the noncustodial parents are men with substantially more income. To obtain childcare assistance, the parent must be collecting child support. “Our primary concern about child support is that single parents [who are usually mothers] should not have to initiate a legal action against the absent parent for child support in order to qualify to receive childcare assistance,” said Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative Executive Director Carol Burnett.
As the US Congress works on its upcoming budget, the question has been raised about whether its fiscal plan addresses gender issues. The United Nations has developed guidelines to assist countries with gender-responsive budgeting through “the explicit consideration of the existence of gender inequalities when designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating a budget or policy.” This approach can be applied to programs, large and small, as well as agencies and departments. The International Monetary Fund has stressed that fiscal policies affect gender equality in nations throughout the world. For example, “reducing funds for social services clearly affect men and women differently, as women are more likely to be single parents and make around 80 cents on the dollar when compared to men in the US.” Unfortunately, the US has not ratified and implemented gender-responsive budgeting, except on a very limited basis. Instead, the proposed 2020 budget cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and Departments of State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Agriculture, among others, while the Departments of Defense, Veterans’ Affairs, Homeland Security and Commerce are slated for increases. “This is a clear prioritization of brute force over human security, which calls for ‘people-centered, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people.’”
The US House of Representatives in July passed a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage in the United States incrementally until it reaches $15 by 2025 for tipped employees and newly hired ones who are less than 20 years old. The Raise the Wage Act would benefit “39.7 million workers, including 23.8 million full-time workers, 23 million women, 11.2 million parents and 5.4 million single parents,” according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank that researches and analyzes economic issues. The Congressional Budget Office reported lower numbers with the wage increase directly affecting 17 million workers and another 10.3 million potentially. It expects 1.3 million would lose their jobs as a result. The debates, as usual, involve more money for employees to justify the increase and more money for businesses or job cuts in opposition to it.
In Zimbabwe, several laws restrict a mother’s travel and decisions regarding the care of her children if she is raising them alone. The nexus of this issue is the child receiving the father’s surname not only indicating his or her membership in the father’s clan but cementing the belief that “a father’s genes are more expressive than a mother’s.” If the father is actively involved in raising and protecting the children, then his “aggressive genes” are worthy of such recognition and lineage. But what if he isn’t interested in parenting? Is the mother not worthy of caring for the child? The rub occurs specifically when the mother wants to travel out of the country with her children. Documentation must be provided and fathers may not authorize the travel because laws protect their right to see their children even if they are disinterested. The writer, a lawyer, suggested that mothers avoid this situation by not identifying the father on the child’s birth certificate or seeking a court order. Having sole legal and physical custody can enable the mother to make all decisions for her children.
Because parenting itself is not monetized in any way, single parents in Ireland are bearing the brunt of a system that undervalues their work and consequently hurts their children. Referred to as lone parents, these mothers, mainly, are recognized as those who lost a spouse through death or who chose not to marry. Certain financial benefits are afforded to the former because the father paid into a pension system. Children up to age 23 can receive these extra payments if they are in school full time. However, no such money is available to the children of unmarried mothers. No one appears to argue that this assistance should go to these children. The argument is with a system that seems to punish unmarried mothers and ignore the work of childrearing by forcing them to overcome several hurdles to qualify for aid with rigid deadlines. Another failure of this system is the prescribed value placed on fathers. Their importance is limited to being a breadwinner rather than a parent involved in raising their children. If they are not paying, they are invisible.
The author, a doctor of psychology and published academic, fought study with study in denouncing the myth that the children of single parents are worse off than those living with married parents. She rebukes this stereotype and any spinoffs with research from her books. At first blush, this approach seems self-aggrandizing, but her insights are extremely interesting. For example, she takes on critics who say that single parents cannot provide the stability that married parents can. She describes the work that a single parent — or any parent, for that matter — must do in fostering a healthy relationship with their children. She adds that stability comes from the various people in a child’s life from siblings to grandparents to teachers to friends. I found her revelations to be refreshing and realistic.
On Thursdays, I will be sharing a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent. Every fourth Thursday, instead of a personal post, I will 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.