There’s a new Mommy War being waged across the Internet — though if you’re not a divorced or single parent, you may not have noticed it.
Writer Jennifer Ball has picked up on it. Every time she — or anyone else, really — writes a blog about parenting solo, readers take to the comments section to quibble over what it really means to be a single parent.
“They’ll write: ‘Yeah, she has it tough but try doing it completely alone! That’s worse!'” Ball told The Huffington Post. “Or: ‘You are not a single parent. Sorry! If your kids see their dad, or if you get child support, you can’t call yourself a single parent.’ It’s like the Single Parenting Olympics; only those who can prove themselves to be the singlest of them all are given the gold.”
In the end, fighting over labels doesn’t really concern Ball.
“The reality is, there are no rules,” she said. “You can call yourself a Jackalope Parent if you want, for all I care. My truth is this: I am single. I’m a parent. “
Ball isn’t the one who feels that way. Below, HuffPost Divorce bloggers and readers on Facebook tell us why they self-identify as single parents, regardless of whether or not their ex has stayed in the picture.
1. If you can’t call for backup, you’re a single parent.
“You are a single parent the minute you don’t have emotional backup. The moment that you are emotionally out there by yourself. The minute that you realize you are ‘bad cop’ and ‘good cop’ all rolled into one, you are a single parent. You are a parenting team of one. I define being a single parent as not having the luxury of a second opinion, not having another person to back you up emotionally. You are a single parent when you are a love-giving, rule-setting, life-training, food-dispensing army of one. That definition makes me a single parent.” — Rosemond Perdue, blogger at Round & Round Rosie
2. You’re a single parent if you do almost everything.
“Are my kids single-parented? No. They see their dad every other weekend. Am I a single parent? Yes. For my point of view, I’m a single parent. I do it all myself, but they are not single-parented because they still have him as a parent.” — Kristienne Michelle
3. You’re a single parent even if your ex spends time with the kids.
“Before I remarried, I was a single parent. I say that despite the fact that my ex spent time with the kids. I was the one who got the kids up in the morning and made sure they were clothed and fed. I met their emotional needs, faced financial hardships went to school events, and carried the burden of worrying about my kids and their future — alone. I think if you don’t have someone to share those responsibilities, no matter what your relationship status, you can be considered a single parent.” – Amanda Morin, author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education
4. If you’re 100 percent responsible for the kids just 50 percent of the time, you’re still a single parent.
“We have 50/50 custody and I consider myself a single parent because I am single and a parent. I know I don’t have sole responsibility for my kids 100 percent of the time but I do have sole responsibility for 100 percent of the time while they are with me as does my ex.” — Rachel Loveland Rees
5. If you feel like a single mom, then you are a single mom.
“Unmarried moms always bristle when married mothers say: ‘Oh, I’m a single mom, too. My husband works all the time.’ After all, these women have the financial and social advantages of marriage, even if their spouses don’t help with the home, kids or care about their well-being. I have certainly felt like punching women in the throat for saying as much, but my take on it is this: If you feel like a single mom, then you are a single mom. Maybe your husband really truly does not contribute to the household in any way — with the kids, financially, as your emotional support. Or maybe he falls dreadfully short in several areas. If you feel like you are parenting alone, and feel the urge to ascribe to yourself a title that is widely synonymous with suffering social pariahs, knock yourself out.” – Emma Johnson, blogger at Wealthy Single Mommy
6. You’re a single parent if you’re a parent and single.
“My kids have a father. Sometimes, they see him. He does pay some child support. If I’m busy, he occasionally gives them rides to places. He buys them birthday presents and every once in a while he takes them out to dinner. Guess what? I’m still a single parent. Because I’m single, and I parent my children without a partner. If I were to get married again, I would no longer be a single parent. Pigs may also fly out of my nether-regions, but if that happened I’d still be single parent. (Because the pigs probably wouldn’t help me parent my children.) Don’t we have more pressing things to argue about? Just go out there and parent like a mofo. A single mofo, if that’s what you are. Don’t let labels concern you. Trust me, none of us is getting a medal.” — Jennifer Ball, blogger at The Happy Hausfrau
7. You’re a single parent if there’s no other adult in the home.
“My take is that since my divorce, I’ve been a single parent because I am the only adult in the home. No other parent is there. Even with two active involved parents, single parenthood is when a child is cared for by one parent at a time. – Christina Barnes
8. If you’re solely responsible for teaching your kid everything he needs to know about life, you’re a single parent.
“I am a single parent. I care solely for the well-being of our child. My ex husband lives nine hours away. I am the one who gets up in the middle of the night to put my son back to bed. I am the one who fixes his lunches for school. I am the one potty training. I am the one who who is teaching him what it is to be a gentleman. I never get a day off. It’s my little man and me, 24/7, 365 days a year.” — Kim Hirth
9. There’s no one-size-fits-all definition of single parenting.
“Are some single parents more or less ‘single’ than others? I think so. The amount of time we spend in the driver’s seat matters: A weekend parent simply doesn’t experience parenthood the same way his or her counterpart does. A mom with 60 percent custody and a widower are not having the same day. A parent who pays the bills and bathes the kids every night isn’t the same as the one who takes them to the park twice a month. There’s no true definition of single parenthood, there are only degrees of it. My place on the spectrum varies from day-to-day (sometimes from hour-to-hour). It was never my dream to be a single mother but I am. I’m still forgiving myself for what I went through trying to avoid it. The life I have now may not be what I set out to build, but it’s so much more beautiful. I carry most of the weight, but I also have the privilege of carrying most of the joy. And that is worth everything.” — Liane Cole
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