Friday, 16 March 2012

Single parents - you're brilliant!

Bringing up a child a single parent is harder than bringing up a child in a traditional family.

It costs more (relative to parents' incomes), you lack the support of another adult and, when it comes to making difficult choices (and, believe me, parenting is so often about making difficult choices) you often have to do it alone, you are often without 'backup' when it comes to clashes of wills (they happen often too), and you never really get a break, even, sometimes, for a minute (ever tried going to the toilet with a toddler in tow?).

Children in single parent households too are often forced to 'grow up before their time' and take on far more responsibility for running a household - on top of all the homework, play and general tomfoolery that makes up a childhood - than their counterparts in a 'more traditional' family unit.

For single Dads the whole business of understanding and communicating with daughters can be tricky, especially in the teenage years - for single Mums the same is, of course, true when it comes to boys.

Oh and there's the small matter of having to fight with ex-partners, the courts, the Child Support Agency - and sometimes even friends and relatives - over access times, maintenance, parenting choices, and so on. All too often these legal fights can dominate a single parent's life.

And then there's housing issues, trying to find time to work and develop a career - and the associated financial hardship.

Single parents are all too often condemned as being feckless and lazy for facing these problems - even by their friends and relatives.

Of course that's just the start of it - as any single parent will tell you.

Amazing then that they do so well!

But this Government seems determined to make it even harder - with all the evidence suggesting benefit and public service cuts will hit single parent families hardest, and with David Cameron even suggesting that they ought to pay more tax as an 'incentive' to encourage marriage.

The campaign group Gingerbread offers a free telephone helpline to assist any single parent needing support or expert advice on anything from dealing with a break-up, going back to work, or sorting out maintenance, benefit or tax credit issues. Give 'em a call on 0808 802 0925.

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