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The Single Parent Link

The Single Parent Stigma

The Single Parent Stigma

 

Every time I tell someone that I am a single parent, I notice the averted gaze, the look of pity and the insinuation that I am spreading some sort of single parent virus with every conversation.   It seems that several assumptions are made—it is my fault that I am a single parent…clearly I didn’t work hard enough to make the marriage work; I am living in poverty since I couldn’t possibly survive on one income; my kid is miserable and unhappy with only one parent.  In reality, I am lucky that I am able to make it on one income, my ex-husband is very involved in my son’s life, and my son is very happy, especially since my ex comes to see him nearly every day.  While many of these reactions and assumptions do not surprise me in my personal life, they do surprise me as an entrepreneur trying to run a business focused on single parents. 

Promoting the website, www.singleparentlink.com, has been a challenge from the beginning—calls to potential advertisers weren’t returned, or I got the interesting “this isn’t really our audience” conversation from groups that focused on parents.  It seems that single parents don’t qualify as “parents” to many businesses in the area and are not a group that they feel would use their products or establishments.  When I would introduce the website, I was often interrupted with “Is this a dating site?”  I would patiently explain that the site offered resources and answers, not dating and would wait for the silence as they paused to grasp the concept.  Media attention meant enduring offensive comments on websites, blaming me for becoming a single parent and subjecting taxpayers to my life living solely on child support. 

At tradeshows, parents would walk by the booth, often speeding up when they saw the words “Single Parent Link” stamped on my table covering, whispering that they were glad they weren’t single parents. People who didn’t read the name of the company would come up to the table for a giveaway and have it in hand when they asked what the business was all about.  More than once, they would drop the giveaway back on the table when I said it was a website devoted to single parents.  They would look around guiltily, muttering that they were not a single parent and exit quickly.  At one event, two little girls approached the table just ahead of their mom and asked for the giveaway.  The mother came up behind them, saw what the business was and told them to drop it right away…that it was for single parents.  She then informed them loudly that they were lucky to have BOTH parents and didn’t need anything at this table. 

Despite it all, I have managed to raise a happy, healthy child while working a full-time job and running a business.  There are thousands of others out there in the community doing the same thing—working hard every day and overcoming obstacles, struggling with the same things that all parents do, but doing it alone.  We drop off and pick up at daycare or school, we work all day, come home and fix dinner, do laundry, clean the house, help with homework, give the bath, read the stories and tuck into bed, often working well into the night as the little ones slumber.  Being a single parent doesn’t mean that you have failed, or that misery is around the corner.  It means that in often difficult situations at home and at work, you are succeeding every day by managing the chaos and helping to shun the stigma.  

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Oct 2, 2012 01:29 pm
 Posted by  Lori D.

Kelly, I couldn't agree with you more. Even in these modern times with divorce rates over 50%, single parents are looked down upon and discriminated against. Case in point: my ex-husband and I have Shared Parenting and are both very involved in my son's life, yet emails from his elementary school have been going only to my husband - even though the school has both addresses on file. When I stopped in the office to question this, I honestly assumed it was just a clerical error. However, I was told by the school secretary that because my ex-husband's address is the one associated with the that particular elementary school that they consider him the "residential parent," and that it's their policy that all "important" communications go ONLY to that parent. I couldn't believe it! I said, "If that's your policy, you're leaving a whole lot of parents out of the loop. I have my son just as often as his dad and there are many other parents out there in the same situation." I was really hurt and angry. We have to educate this society that a divorce doesn't mean you, your spouse, or your children have failed or that your family is somehow "less than." I, too, have my own business and still manage to be deeply involved in my son's life. He's a happy kid and knows that both his parents are at bat for him everyday and love him unconditionally.

Oct 4, 2012 06:53 pm
 Posted by  Ktaylor

So true! It is unfortunate that so many people make assumptions when they hear that you are divorced or are a single parent for any reason. It is equally unfortunate that those assumptions are always made by adults, while children are much more open and accepting of all different types of families!

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About This Blog

 

Kelly Taylor is a communications and marketing professional, single mom and CEO of SingleParentLink.com, a website with local resources and information for single parents. The site has served single parents in the Columbus area since July 2011 and has recently expanded to Cincinnati and Cleveland.  Kelly can be reached at ktaylor@singleparentlink.com.  To read more articles by Kelly, visit SingleParentLink.com.  

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