In our current political arena, “truth” has come to mean a great many things, often having little or nothing to do with “fact”. These days, bending the truth, twisting the truth and misinterpreting the truth are so commonplace, many people find that additional research is required for just about everything we read in the papers or see online. And the truth about single parenthood is no exception.
Historically, the damning statistics, which we now know to be grossly exaggerated, painted single parent homes as “at-risk”. In 2011, a PEW Research poll (February 16) found that 70% of Americans believe single women raising children alone is bad for society. If solo parent families are the pariahs of our culture, (based on truth so twisted it has become false), what does that say about the children being raised in these homes- let alone the parents who are striving to keep up at half the family earning potential of their married peers?
Early in my years of solo parenthood I occasionally wondered whether my daughter and I were really considered “a family” because the nuclear family model was so clearly the ideal. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. In my psychotherapy practice, I’ve talked with dozens of clients who single parented with the same uncomfortable sense that they were somehow “less than” because they were un-partnered. The good news is, these feelings didn’t last. Not for myself, and not for my clients.
The other good news is that there’s lots of ways to find the truth. The statistics we’ve been exposed to over the years may say more about our puritanical sociocultural agenda than anything that comes close to describing the truth of single parenthood. Where some of the research may have yielded despair and a sense of being “less than”, it is the personal stories that yield hope, inspiration, empowerment….truth. When it comes to understanding what it’s like to raise children alone, we have to go past the headlines, and into the hearts and homes of the experts. That’s where the real truth lies. Anyone wanting the real truth about single parenthood, need only as an expert. And there are many to choose from.