Single and a parent
Some reasons may make an individual to become a single parent. The number one reason is nurture. It is nurture that makes a woman to think that if she is not a biological mother, her life may not be complete. With modernity, which has given the woman the chance to have an education and develop personal interest, it is not uncommon to discover that many choose to delay motherhood. And with this putting it off until she is ready may turn out that when she is quite prepared for it, finding the man who satisfies her as the right material for co-parenting is difficult to come by.
With the awareness that the clock is ticking away and not waiting for her, many women have decided to go through parenting alone-without necessarily changing their maiden name. Remember that it takes two to make a child, so definitely her child has a father who may choose to play a role from a distance. This is only one of the reasons.
There is also this situation whereby she had been confident that love relationship would lead nowhere but marriage and then happily and jointly raising a family with this amazing man. But then she became pregnant and the relationship broke up irretrievably, making her a single parent. The man may join hands with the child’s upbringing or he may not because, when they live apart, it may not be easy to hold him down to his responsibilities. Some studies have proved too that, men, as much as they are keen to play fatherly roles, are not really good at it when they have to do it from a distance.
There is also widowhood, which robs a woman of her wonderful partner and awesome co-parent. Some people have argued that losing a spouse through death does not make a woman a single parent. But that is what happens in many cases. She does not want to remarry because she wants undivided attention to her children. Some say, too, that his relatives are there to help; but some relatives may help financially which is only one part of parenting. However, we know from cultural practices that it is the lucky few widows who receive any help, in most cases, she is raising as many as six children single- handedly.
There was the story of a flamboyant senator who passed on leaving a wife and four children and properties. His relatives took everything from their home-everything including their beds. When she and her daughters took a stall to sell food at a fair, many people said that they pitied her-a woman who travelled abroad as often as possible when her husband and the father of her children were around.
And what about court cases and squabbles which the relatives initiate in order to take over his estate-quarrels that never end and leave the woman to fend for her children all alone.
There are also divorce cases, which makes a woman a single parent in reality, because fighting for custody of her beloved children and having them with her may leave a cold war that denies the children care from their father.
However, to be a focused single parents is what we are asking for here because although we attribute negative behaviour to single parenthood; we often hear it said that many of the children behaving badly on the streets are children from broken homes. Many people speak from experience by merely being watchful or they speak from research. Some of these children are so traumatized by not having their parents when they need them. It might be helpful, therefore, if we could admit that we cannot wipe out single parenthood, which may involve a man sometimes. When he chooses not to remarry immediately after a divorce or bereavement, but makes the choice of raising his children alone for the sake of love.
And speaking of single parenting, we should not forget that in a home where a man has many wives, a mother under such an arrangement is likely to be going it all alone, even when she has all she needs materially. Without the emotional contribution from a father who he hears spoken about, a child would likely be a model for the type the society complains about. The child sees his other relatives getting everything as far as he is concerned but all he wanted was a closer relationship with his father who has no time for him-so he becomes angry. The mother, who may have thought that it takes two to raise a child but feels disappointed in her partner, may not bother about the outcome.
The society may, therefore, have more single parents than we may know. However, if remember the late Christy Essien Igbokwe’s song that when child does well he belongs to everybody but the one that falls short is a mother’s problem, we would say that the ball is in the single parent’s court; she is the one who would have the searchlight beamed on her. Yes, single parenting calls for discipline and sacrifice.
When you therefore find yourself as single but with a child, we are not going to discourage you. I don’t think that it has got to the point where a father has become irrelevant; we say therefore that a family remains the appropriate place to raise a family. But it will not be easy; if people in a two-parent set-up say it is difficult, it may be doubly difficult for a single parent.
You are a family yourself, but since it takes two to make a child, we say that you should acknowledge the child’s father; let him know that you are taking care of his child although he may contribute naught. Another issue is that when there is paternity controversy, women back down easily because they want to avoid trouble, but it is in the interest of the child to establish his family.
In the past and under some customs, a man who has not married a wife is denied his child; the mother’s family would adopt that child and raise him as their own.
In your case, however, you have decided to care and love your child; it is a personal decision so you should be prepared. First is the antenatal care, enroll in a clinic and follow up with appointments. Show that you look forward to having your baby and that you are enjoying the pregnancy. If you show that you are overwhelmed, there are people who are waiting to show you the negative aspects of your decision
A pregnant single lady once recalled: “One ‘concerned’ colleague at work looked at my glowing complexion and told me; “Do you know what is involved in childcare?
“I did not know and had not the time to think about it. When I saw a nurse send a woman go for test because she had protein in her urine, I have known about pre-eclampsia, I had read up about it and other diseases relating to pregnancy.
“There are birth defects too; when the nurse told a woman in her 40s of the need to take her vitamins seriously, I understood.
“Even when I had a caesarian section, I did not think the world had come to an end. But I did see the truth in her caution. My boss’s wife had a CS on the same Saturday but she lost the baby.”
The worry is not different from the ones those in a two- parent family have- how to take care of the infant. The difference may be that two of them are sharing the burden while only you will make all the decisions. The mother may decide to stay home to take care of the young one while the father works. But since you think that you have to work harder because there are two of you now, you will go back to work.
So who takes care of the child? Some new mothers work as close to delivery date as possible so they can have some time to bond with their baby. Some new mums invite their own mothers to help out until the child has grown enough-invite yours to stay with you if she can afford the time. Otherwise look for good quality care while you are at work.
Some thoughts would say that the demand on your time ends after delivery but with teen troubles, peers’ negative influence and other issues of parenting, we say that a child needs to be watched at any stage of the early years. Observes a father; “Because of the nature of the area where we were brought up, my mother took us to wherever she went to.”
If you can afford it, think of extra classes for your child while you are at work-dance, music and art are fun and would influence the child positively; she is not suffocated in your love and care and she is mixing with other children.
You Can Still Meet A Father Figure
But after your experience as the strong and capable parent, it is not unnatural that you want a man in your life; who should blame you? However, choose someone who should take you and your child. It has been the two of you for some time, so don’t force the child to accept him when he is not ready. They may not be friends at the beginning but if he is nice, you may become a family with time. I still remember a scene I once witnessed at Surulere. A teenager had run into the street shouting, hot on her heels were a man a woman; the girl accused the mother of every wrong imaginable but neighbours who knew the story were not happy. According to them, the mother had given her all to raise the two children before she met this man; but the silly girl was not ready to share her with the man.
That was their opinion, but children may know who or what is wrong for their mother, especially if they have practically grown together and gone through thick and thin. It would not pay to go with a man who would wreck the home you have built because you think you need a man in your life.
So look before you leap. Does he love children? You can tell if he is angry at the mention of children; he will not care for yours.
Is he divorced? Find out why his marriage has broken down; if he is bad father or husband, he will not behave better with you. Make sure he is not following you because he thinks that you have money, which should be spent on him. Date and enjoy the company of men but take time to choose the one who would help you with co-parenting.
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