In the Blog
One is Enough
Original Photo by Drinks Machine on Flickr
“You never met your Dad before? That’s so sad,” is the response I received when I told someone I didn’t have a father in my life. That statement always confused me. Why would anyone be sad for me just because there wasn’t a father figure in my life? Sure, I’ve always wanted to have a dad because all my friends did, but not because I needed one. Even when my mom got married when I was 10 to the man I see as my true father, it didn’t feel like he filled up a gaping hole in our family. My family was already whole. A new family member was just added to contribute to the love and care that was already there.
Maybe my friends felt sorry for me because they didn’t have the kind of parent I had growing up. My mom did everything for me, always putting me first even before her own needs. She played with me whenever I wanted to and listened to me no matter how nonsensical my monologue was. I never truly realized how great of a feat and act of love this actually was until she gave birth to a brother that was exactly like me. I had no idea how exhausting I was. This treatment may have spoiled me when I was younger, but now that I’m older, I can appreciate the sacrifices my mother made that I can’t even begin to repay. So why should anyone be sad that I had a parent who filled the shoes of two or more? Maybe it’s because they didn’t realize I experienced advantages that a person with only one parent can receive.
For one thing, single parents are able to develop stronger bonds with their children. Since it was just my mom and me, she became more than just my parent, she became my best friend. I even preferred hanging out with her instead of my friends. I was able to share things with my mom that most people would hide or keep to themselves. This helped me get through a lot of rough spots in my life that other people could not help me with. I was painfully shy growing up, to the point where I could barely speak to someone if I didn’t know them. Having a trusted adult I could confide in who had my best interests at heart was especially crucial to me.
Finding a role model is also exponentially easier when a kid only has one parent. My mom was, and is, able to do everything and still have the energy to be kind and loving to others. She’s one of the hardest working people I know and doesn’t let other people’s opinions or lack of work ethic bring her down. If there’s a job that needs to get done, she gets it done and does it well. It helped me, though I wasn’t grateful for it at the time, that my mom held me to those same standards of excellence. The importance of education was always stressed, with A’s being the expected grades I bring home. Sometimes I would get the inevitable B or C, but as long as I did my best, that was all that truly mattered.
Just the possibility of disappointing my mom motivated me to do my best and put effort into everything I did - even today. It also helped my overall growth and maturity to see my mom experience emotions that most parents hide from their children. It showed me she was human too and wasn’t some perfect robot. Life got to her, and it was okay to be mad or sad or any other feeling. What was important was to not be consumed by those emotions, but let them go and continue to be the best person you can be.
Although a lack of achievement in school, early pregnancies, and emotional issues are attributed to children of single parents, these concerns are not the result of an inadequate number of parental figures. Poverty and instability are the true culprits to blame. Since single parents may not make the same income as a couple, it’s deemed that children with only one parent will have a much harder life due to limited access to resources. However, that cannot be further from the truth. There are plenty of options for financial assistance if you’re a single parent, and there are communities and support groups. No matter if a child has one or two parents, poverty affects both of them equally. The same is true with family instability, especially if drugs or alcohol are in the picture. If a child comes from a discordant household with a two parents, they will suffer more issues with school and their mental health than a child who is raised by a stable single parent.
In fact, children with only one present parent will thrive despite the so-called odds that are stacked against them. Having two parents in a child’s life doesn’t guarantee a happy and wholesome upbringing. Two unfit parents are not better than just one unfit parent. However, one outstanding parent can make all the difference to a child.
Keep in mind, though, that while a parent’s teaching and care do affect a child’s beliefs and values, it can only go so far. Children are exposed to so many people as they grow up. Even the best couple to ever live can have a child that goes down the wrong path. Single parenthood does not make anyone involved incomplete. In fact, single parents are the true heroes in this story. Personal and outside forces can make it harder, but it’s up to the child and parent as to the kind of life they want to live. Having another parent doesn’t automatically mean an improved quality of life for anyone involved. For me, at least, one was just enough.
Amethyst Tagney is freelance writer and illustrator. She spends her time writing on a variety of topics and is an avid learner. When Amethyst’s not drawing, she loves to share what she discovers. You can find her on Twitter @AmTagWrites.