03 Sep Does single parent stigma still exist?
There are around 2 million single parent families in the UK, a statistic that is on the rise (Ref: Article 1). So as these numbers increase surely we should be more accepting of single parents? And surely society should be geared up to catering for us single parents out there?
I was thrown into being a single parent, I didn’t plan it. I know some people who have planned it that way and I know many more that didn’t. It doesn’t really matter which way it happens we all have to live with the decidedly unglamorous and unsexy title “single parent”… But it’s not all doom and gloom… far from it!
Whilst there are many difficulties associated with being a single parent there are also some wonderful things too
- …quality “you and them time” with your kids…
- being able to teach your own values and beliefs to your kids
- your way goes!
- precious “you time” time when the kids are with the other parent
One thing I have struggled with though are holidays. I used to enjoy family holidays and the time spent together abroad. The problem is now I’m single I still like holidays but going on your own with the kids brings up all sorts of issues that as a couple I never even thought about.
I will never forget the first time I had gone on holiday just me and my little boy. He was 3 years old at the time. We went to Turtle Beach Resort in Barbados. We wanted to go on a boat trip to see turtles so my son and I went to the sailing booking desk at the hotel to enquire about prices.
“It would be $20 for your son and $30 each for you and your husband” she said.
“No, no” I quickly replied “just me and my boy”
“Yes I understand but if you want your husband to come too it will be $30 for him too”
“I don’t have one, I’m divorced” I felt I had to state. If she had actually seen my husband I was really going to be upset as we were in the midst of an acrimonious divorce and this holiday was my escape from it all!
She looked flabbergasted and asked “So you came here on your own… without a man?”
“Yup I did” I felt a mixture of humiliation and also indignation. It wasn’t such a rare thing was it??
My time around the pool proved that apparently it was a rare thing. I was the only single mum (or dad) in the whole resort on my own with my child. Everyone else was in families. It felt like I was being pointed out as the odd one out. The stares and curious glances…
However it was at dinner that I felt a complete social pariah. When I walked into the restaurant it felt like everyone was watching… Wondering where my other half was. I’m sure it seemed worse to me than it actually was, I’m sure many had plenty more things to do than ponder on my social situation. However the reality to me was how it made me feel.
It felt like either looks of pity at my lonely plight… which nobody felt more than me at that moment in time! Or searing looks of ‘Keep away from my husband’ …All I could think was I just want to have fun and enjoy quality time with my son… I hadn’t realised how uncomfortable I would feel, that part I hadn’t even considered before now.
It was only a few days into the holiday when I was sitting by the pool that I started to see an unexpected upside of my single parent status. I was watching my son swim in the pool with another little boy who was around the same age. They were chatting and playing together. This boy’s Dad jumped in and started playing with his son. My boy swam over to them and …no word of a lie… the Dad turned to my boy and said “I’m sorry I am playing with my son, please go away”.
I was so upset I jumped in and started playing with my son to distract him from how mean this man had been. It was me who was more upset, probably the guilt of my son not having a Dad to play with on his holiday. But still it was a mean thing to say to a 3 year old boy.
It was only later that day that I saw the situation for what it really was. A lady approached me sitting by the pool. I had watched her earlier with her baby who hadn’t stopped crying. She was also the mother of the little boy playing with my son in the pool earlier and I assumed the wife of the mean Dad.
“Excuse me” she asked tentatively. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure” I said bracing myself for whatever was coming next
“Are you on holiday on your own with your little boy?”
“Yes I am…” Where was this going?
“Just you and him… No man?” She was looking at me with huge eyes…
“Yes that’s right… Just the two of us”…seriously uncomfortable
“Wow, that sounds like… Heaven!! I wish I could do that. All I do is clear up after everyone and I really don’t like my husband, he’s so controlling… you’re very lucky ” she added as her husband came over…
“What’s going on here? What are you saying to her?” He bellowed as she rolled her eyes, half smiled at me and walked off back to her crying baby…
So you never really know what’s going on behind closed doors… Things may not be as idyllic as they appear. Those looks may not be looks of pity as I walk into the restaurant… They may be looks of envy at my peaceful singleness! They may not be thinking “keep away from my husband” maybe ” I wish I could get away from my husband”!
To be honest I love holidays just me and my son… It’s a chance to enter his world for a whole week… play games, watch kids movies, chat, nap together and have fun one on one. It’s precious time that I value deeply and we both enjoy. However it’s not made easy by society not accepting single parents… And that can make meal times and pool times a little awkward.
So I’m creating an environment where single parents can holiday together at 5 star resorts with good company and the option to not have to face the restaurant alone! With personal coaching from me included it’s a great way to move forward and enjoy a break with your kids.
If you’re interested then register your interest. We would love to see you.
So come on society, let’s move forward and accept single parents… It’s often not a lifestyle choice but we can make the most of it.
(References: Article 1 Daily Mail in Daily Mail ‘Britain has two million single parent families with majority of children raised by mother alone’ 20 January 2012)