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Single Parenting: Living with the Trend

21 Sep 2012

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Family sketch (Artwork)

In today’s society, for too many people, the two-parent family norm is fast losing its appeal; with numerous adults preferring the single parenting system for personal reasons, despite its challenges.

Ebere Nwiro examines the trend

“Y

es, I grew up with my mother. I was just four years old when my dad walked away from mother. I was crying as he left, because he had just given my mother the beating of her life. The condition in which he left us just after bringing us to Lagos for the first time impacted my upbringing and changed the outcome of both my mother’s life and my own forever”.

Ms. Uzoamaka Aniegbu, narrated her ordeal of growing up with a single parent and becoming one herself, “We went from a sophisticated and comfortable life to living in one room apartment in Orile, it was a very terrible experience growing up I must tell you.”

My mother who wasn’t well educated and had never worked had to start up all sorts of petty businesses so as to cater for me and my younger brother.  We could barely pay the rent, life was very difficult compared to what we were used to.

After three miserable years our luck had changed, but we continued living in that room, sharing a single toilet and bath with up to 36 other people, until I was 13. My father, meanwhile, was back in Asaba, Delta state with his ‘new family’. He had married another woman. I didn’t see him for another six years.

As I grew up, it became ever more important to me that when I had children of my own, they should be born into a happy marriage, because I didn’t want my mother’s life of constant tiredness laced with anger and anxiety.

But, growing up almost on my own over the years, I came to realise that the wish for a whole and happy family, with two married parents, is one that all children from broken homes share. When I finally married at 31, I was absolutely certain I had met the person with whom I would spend the rest of my life, the person with whom I would raise children and enjoy the old age when it comes.

Part of that certainty was rooted in the fact that my husband came from a solid and happy family with a strong moral framework and clear values. So it was a shock when having had two daughters, our marriage ended less than nine years later, when he left me for another woman. It was the most terrible failure I experienced in this life.

The happy home I had built for my kids was shattered with a single blow. I felt utter loss on my children’s behalf and pure frustration on my own. I would live my mother’s life after all.”

Uzoma’s story is one of the thousands known in Nigeria, where parental roles are culturally determined. For instance, maternal role is that of childcare and home making while the paternal role is that of economic responsibilities and discipline of children.

Generally, it is the responsibility of both parents, to train and bring up the child in the norms and values of the society. They are to be responsible for the psychological and emotional welfare of the child.

The parents are mainly responsible for the educational and career development of their children. However, divorce and separation of various kinds or death of one spouse may leave the roles in the hands of a single parent.

Single parenting expert says is a family where there is only one parent and one or more children living together in a home atmosphere.

Basically it’s a situation where one parent has to serve a dual-parent role, that of both mother and father to a child or children in the extended or permanent absence of the other parent.

Though statistics are sketchy to back the claim of the surge in the practice in Africa, it is a fact that the issue of single parenting is becoming a trend in the developing countries and Nigeria is not an exception.

Among Nigerians, the existence of single parents was formerly unknown and where they existed they were ignored as exceptional cases, however nowadays, they are fast becoming a growing family patterns both inside and outside Nigeria.

Although there are no available statistics of single-parent families in Nigeria, practical experience and newspaper reports show that there is an upsurge of this trend in the country.

Single parenthood may occur for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are by choice, as in divorce or adoption; or as a result of unforeseeable circumstances such as death, child abuse, child neglect, or abandonment by biological parents.

According to Arinyo Owoyemi an analyst, “The effects of single parenting do not only affect the parents, it also affects the children. In fact, the effects are more devastating on the part of the children because single parenthood leaves them with deep scars.” Just like in the case of Mrs. Aniegbu.

According to the United States Census Bureau, over 13 million single parents living in the United States alone.  Approximately 26% of United States children under the age of 21 are being raised by single parents.  In these single-parent households, a high level of stress over the daily routine and finances is often a way of life.

As human beings are born with differences, so also are some women who, out of no fault of theirs, cannot tolerate being ordered around by a man who by no means measure up to the lady’s societal standing or even tolerate a woman who is equally made of her stock.

So, hardly would a lady in this school of thought want to be a subject in an institution that is male-controlled. Their chemical makeup is one that cannot tolerate any form of unruliness from any man. Yet, there are other ladies who based their decision on what they relatively went through in the hands of a supposed head of the family, all in the name of domestic violence.

This was the case of a single mother who pleaded anonymity. She remained unmarried because of the terrible ordeal she had to suffer in the hands of her husband, simply because he was laid off from his job, he poured out his frustrations on her and the kids.

“My experience in the hands of my husband is one I would never forget, despite the hype going on about domestic violence mine was the worst kind and yet nothing was done about it, it got so bad I had to pick up my kids and run before the man I called my husband killed me.

Though, the counsel for me to have a rethink is a forgone conclusion. I have four children who have never lacked all the necessary things of life, I have been hustling to take care of my children without the help of anybody, and I am doing all this on my own by God’s grace”. She said.

“Since I became a single parent, I have been enjoying serious breath of fresh air. I have my independence which is one thing I lacked while I was with my partner, because he was also the very jealous and possessive type”. She revealed.

Single parenting is very challenging, but it can also reap benefits if you accept the challenge and grow through it.

One of the most significant challenges facing single parents investigation has shown is in trying to make ends meet financially. Single parents usually must survive on only one income, whereas other families usually have two parents working providing double income.

However, it is not all bad news for the single-parents as there are some positive effects on their kids. Reports have revealed, children in single-parent homes learn to help with household chores and care for younger siblings, which helps them develop maturity quicker than those families that have two parents who do everything for them.

They learn more quickly to be self-reliant, solve problems, and accept responsibility for their actions. They also learn that life is not fair and to make the best of the situation, also, shared responsibilities play a vital role because the contribution of the children to the single parent. In essence, it is vital to note no matter what type of family you are from, being a single-parent does not mean that your children will struggle through life.

Tags: Life, Life and Style, Single Parenting

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