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.
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Voter Suppression and Voter Fraud Case Brought by Single Mom Representing Herself
A single mother from Arizona petitioned the US Supreme Court to decide whether she was denied her right to vote in the 2020 election and whether her claims of ballot destruction in Maricopa County are valid.
Staci Burke discovered that her voter registration had been canceled despite her address being protected from public disclosure under the state’s Address Confidentiality Program. This program was created to keep the home addresses of domestic violence survivors private for safety reasons. Burke qualified for this protection because she had survived domestic violence that led to the death of her son. Further complicating her situation is the life-threatening illness from which she suffers. To obtain this protection, residents must register through the program and provide an alternative address that can be verified for voter registration purposes. As such, program participants should not be concerned that their voter registration will be canceled.
In 2010, Arizona canceled Burke’s registration because state officials could not verify her address. The reason? She did not provide an address because she was protected under the state’s Address Confidentiality Program. The state notified her of the situation at that time, but Burke said she did not receive any such notification. (Apparently, she did not vote in an election for 10 years; if so, she would have discovered that her registration had been revoked before the 2020 election.)
Fast-forward to 2020. The Secretary of State discovered the error involving her voter registration and contacted Burke shortly before the election. However, voter registration restrictions combined with her being hospitalized for a long period of time prevented Burke from re-registering.
The second half of her petition involves her alleged discovery of discarded and mutilated ballots and various voting paperwork in Dumpsters at the Maricopa County Election Center. When confronted with this find, the county recorder said only the records of deceased voters were discarded.
I do not want to focus on the unfounded legal claims, conspiracy theories and lies surrounding the 2020 US election; however, I want to bring to your attention Arizona’s program to protect domestic violence survivors. If you are a Grand Canyon state resident and a survivor, please check out this program to learn how to qualify. For those of you residing in other states, contact your officials about whether such a program exists there.
The US Supreme Court is expected to consider Burk’s case on Friday, April 30, 2021.
For decades, studies have indicated that children living in married households are better off than children living with single parents. These views have often been weaponized against single parents, particularly single mothers, and their children, resulting in unjust stereotypes and public policies. The so-called “marriage premium” has suggested that children in married households enjoy the advantages of better mental and physical health, higher education levels, and higher income, among others; however, society’s role in shaping this discussion has not been fully examined.
Two social scientists examined society’s role after noting that marriage was no longer the norm in Chile. This shift occurred within a generation as “the proportion of births among married women plunged from 66 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2016.” Furthermore, they observed that babies born to married mothers in the early 1990s were less likely than babies born to single mothers to have a low birth weight or be premature or small for their gestational age. This advantage, however, changed by the mid-2010s. Low birth weight had “completely disappeared for preterm birth and had declined by about two-thirds for small-for-gestational-age birth” for babies born to single mothers and married mothers.
The scientists attributed this dramatic shift to society’s greater acceptance of single parenting, among other nonmarried, nonheterosexual parenting styles. With greater acceptance came public policies that supported single and solo parents, less stigmatization and discrimination, and the improved health and well-being of children.
Tens of thousands of families have been transformed into single-parent households overnight with the death of a parent because of COVID-19, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics in April 2021.
The bereavement these families are experiencing, particularly the children, is on a scale never experienced in our country’s history. As of February 2021, 37,300 youth 17 and younger have lost at least one parent; of those children, three-quarters of them are adolescents.
Of the 37,300, 20,600 were non-Hispanic, white children and 7,600, non-Hispanic Black children. Factoring in excess deaths, the estimate is 43,000 children who have lost one or both parents, creating, in the latter case, a substantial number of COVID orphans. The numbers are staggering and heartbreaking.
The educational, economic and health fallout of these deaths and the mass bereavement of so many children during this time of social isolation and economic uncertainty must be addressed through national reforms. One approach is to identify and monitor these children and provide care as needed. The question emerges: Do we have the will to help them? As a nation, we claim to care so much about our children, but do we really care? I have doubted that refrain of concern for several years, and these recent years have only reaffirmed that many of us simply don’t give a damn about children.
As more single dads step forward to help raise their children, many of them are facing laws enacted to protected single mothers and their children decades ago. In Korea, father Kim Ji-hwan could not register his daughter, Sa-rang, who was born in 2013 and abandoned by her mother. Registering a child in Korea is essentially filing a birth certificate for them so they can obtain a social security number and have access to government-funded child care and vaccinations, among other services. By law, mothers have the right to register a child and provide exceptions that would allow fathers to do so. This law was created at a time when DNA testing did not exist to protect mothers and children.
Kim’s story caught the attention of lawmaker Seo Young-kyo proposed an amendment to the Act on the Registration of Family Relations that would allow fathers to register their children “if they do not know the mother’s name, whereabouts and contact information.” The amendment, known as “Sa-rang’s Law,” passed and was effective in November 2015. Unfortunately, Sa-rang’s Law has faced the reality of Korea’s family court system with some judges being more lenient with enforcing the law’s requirements than others. Seo pushed through a second amendment to the Act on the Registration of Family Relations that would permit fathers to register their children without the child’s mother “‘if the mother does not cooperate without justified reasons.’” This amendment passed the National Assembly in February 2021. In Korea in 2019, there were 7,082 single fathers and 20,761 single mothers. The exact number of unregistered children is unknown but officials estimate less than 500 children are unregistered in Korea.
The cultural myth that good parents don’t have obese children has been used to rip families apart when judges blame parents and remove children into state custody. Unfortunately, parents have employed this argument to establish custody in court, according to Fat Legal Advocacy, Rights, and Education Project. This war against fat has affected parents of color, poor parents and single mothers who do not always have access to resources to fight this bias. “In this way, fat discrimination can form a legal loophole for race discrimination that’s hard to fight,” said Brandie Sendziak, a California attorney and legal director of FLARE.
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent. Every other Thursday, instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.