Single parents often have to contend with ridiculous misconceptions about single parenthood. As if there isn’t enough to deal with, you’re stuck having to try to correct those myths and/or defend yourself against them. Here are a few of the most common myths and the truth about them.
#1 Myth: Single parents are rare and unusual.
Truth: According to a University of Wisconsin study, between 2005 and 2009, 37% of children in Marion County lived in single-parent homes. In 2009, single-parent homes made up 34% of all homes in the US, and 38% of all homes in Florida. That is more than one-quarter of all homes. That figure continues to rise each year. While two-parent homes may still be more common, single-parent homes are not the oddity that some would like to think.
#2 Myth: A single-parent home is a broken home.
Truth: The idea that a home is “broken” simply because the parents are divorced or were never married, to begin with, is ridiculous and in some cases, downright offensive. The truth is many single-parent homes are now whole. The home was broken while the single parent lived in a marriage that was unhappy, abusive, or non-monogamous due to their spouse’s infidelity. The fighting, yelling, cold silences, slammed doors and other things that occurred in those homes were more destructive to the child’s upbringing than living in a peaceful, calm home with one parent. Single parents often find themselves better able to care for their children because they are now happy, and no longer worrying about what might happen when their spouse arrives home.
#3 Myth: Single parents don’t give their kids the same time and attention as kids in a two-parent home.
Truth: Single parents have limited time, and no single parent would deny that. However, their children are their first priority, and they always make sure to spend time with their children and give them plenty of attention and love. Having two parents in a home does not automatically make for a happy, healthy child. Two parents in a home does not equal more attention either. In fact, if you ask many single parents, part of why they left is that the other parent was essentially absent from the home, paying no attention to either spouse or children. Plus, when you no longer have to devote time to trying to save a degrading relationship, you have more time to devote to your children.
#4 Myth: Single parents are looking for a “daddy” or “mommy” for their children.
Truth: If a single parent finds the time and chooses to date, he or she is looking for adult companionship and conversation, not a parent for their child. In truth, most single parents are quite happy to be raising their child on their own; being the only one to make the rules and dole out punishments and rewards simplifies life. Additionally, unless a single parent became a single parent entirely by choice (sperm bank, etc.) or through being widowed, chances are good that the child’s other parent is very involved in the child’s life.
#5 Myth: Single parents are into casual sex.
Truth: This particular myth is geared more toward the idea that single mothers are “easy.” There are some men who assume that if a woman has kids, she’ll be willing to have sex with him – whether it’s the first date or not. Just because a woman has had children does not mean that will suddenly want to have sex with every man that walks by. In fact, most single mothers have enough trouble finding time to have innocent dates, much less have sex with someone or several someones.
#6 Myth: Dating is harder for single parents.
Truth: There is a small amount of truth to this one. There is more involved in dating when you have children: arranging for babysitters, balancing kids and social life, deciding when to introduce a new partner to the children, and so much more. But it is not any harder than it is for someone who has no kids. Meeting someone, flirting, arranging the date, going out is all the same. A better way to put it would be that dating requires more planning for single parents.
#7 Myth: The kids need a role model, so you should hurry up and find a new partner and/or remarry as soon as possible.
Truth: Yes, children do need role models in their lives. You, as a single parent, are an excellent role model. To provide your children with additional role models does not require committing to a new relationship or marriage, though. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, significantly older siblings, cousins, friends of the family, or neighbors can all serve as role models. Most of those people would be more than willing to serve as a role model to your child once they’re aware of your situation.
#8 Myth: Mothers are always the custodial parent. Fathers never get custody because the courts always take the mother’s side.
Truth: There was a time when this myth was true, and fathers didn’t have custody of their children in a divorce unless the mother passed away after the divorce. But this is no longer the case. Mothers are still the larger percentage of single parents, but many fathers have custody of their children today. The court system today looks at what is best for the children. Many times, a guardian ad litem is assigned to be an unbiased third party that can look at the situation and determines what is best for the children.
#9 Myth: All single parents have multiple “baby mommas” or “baby daddies.”
Truth: There are many ways a parent becomes a single parent: by choice and going to a sperm bank or finding an egg donor and surrogate mother, by divorce, by being widowed, by ending a long term relationship in which you had children with your partner, or by adopting as a single parent. To assume that because a single parent is single that he or she has slept with multiple people and had children with one or more of them is very insulting, to that particular person and to single parents in general. While there are people out there that have children with multiple partners, they are the exception rather than the rule.
#10 Myth: Kids whose parents have divorced will get divorced themselves.
Truth: Divorce is the result of a relationship failing to the point of being irrevocably broken. If a child of divorced parents grows up and has a healthy, solid relationship with their partner, they are no more likely to get divorced than the child of married parents. In fact, a child could actually benefit in future relationships from seeing their parents divorce rather than seeing them miserable and bitter together. Children should see examples of healthy, happy relationships in order to have a healthy, happy relationship themselves. This is not accomplished by staying together for the children’s sake.
#11 Myth: A single parent is single because he or she couldn’t make a relationship work.
Truth: It takes two people to make or break any relationship. If the single parent became a single parent through divorce, he or she was not the only one responsible for the relationship ending. However, some single parents become single through being widowed. Others become single parents by adopting or choosing artificial insemination. These parents are not single because they couldn’t make a relationship work, they are single because they choose to be.
The circumstances for how and why a single parent became a single parent are very specific to each individual. Making assumptions about the reasons behind it or the parent in general doesn’t do anyone any favors and only makes things more difficult for single parents.