Violent Attacks Against the Family: Single-Parent Families

Single-Parent Families constitute a violent attack against the family, or so says the priest I saw the first weekend of the year. I gave him the benefit of the doubt in that post, but not so here. Today, I am going to talk about the reality of sing-parent families and how they are not wrong. They are not a symptom of sin or in some other way shameful. Sure, they’re different from the stereotypical family, but that doesn’t make them any less. Single-parent families are just as valuable as any other.

Chapter TK - Let's not judge. single-parent families can be just as valuable, strong and secure as any other.

Full disclosure, I did not grow up in a single-parent family. No, my family was a picture of the Catholic ideal. I do, however, have many friends raised by a single parent for one way or another. From what I saw, I think most single parent families are so because of abuse, death or choice. let’s look at all three and uncover these alleged violent attacks.

Single Parents Through Abuse

Abuse can be minor or major. It can be emotional or physical. Honestly, abuse is the reason why I am happy divorce is legal in America. Beating up on your spouse is never okay and that spouse deserves the freedom to escape that relationship.

Few things are braver to me than an abused parent who gets the children into the car and runs from the abuser. The way these people are conditioned to fear everything outside of a relationship, it takes a lot for someone to run from that. The last thing I can imagine is telling that person that they are wrong, sinful and shameful for their actions. They didn’t destroy anything. They fight hard to give their children the happiest life possible.

That priest defined family as something that held life as sacred. It protects life from the outside world, that can too often be cruel. Well, isn’t a parent who escapes abuse doing what they can to protect the lives in their care? if anything, that person who caused the abuse is at fault. They are the sinner and they should be ashamed. Those effected by their terror, they deserve nothing but admiration for the hard decision they were forced to make.

Single Parents Through Death

Death is another misfortune that can create single-parent families. Such deaths may be expected or unexpected and, when children are involved, create a household with one parent.

While I am sure the priest was not thinking of this kind of family when he declared single-parent families violent attacks against family, I still wonder if he thinks such parents should feel obligated to remarry. Should a widowed mother or father feel compelled to remarry for the sake of his family?

Certainly remarriage, if desired, isn’t always a bad thing. However, like those single parents who are in their situation because of abuse, these single-parent families do not deserve shame. That are not wrong or in any way less than any other family. Sure, their lives may not have worked out the way they wanted them to, but that doesn’t mean they should feel ashamed.

Single Parents Through Choice

These are the one who are wrong, for surly they are the ones who the priest spoke of. These sinful people who dared to have sex outsides the bonds of matrimony. How dare they?

Of course, they didn’t have to choose to be a parent, did they. They could have aborted or given their child away in the hopes they might have a good life. Instead, like a family should, they kept their child and held it sacred.

I know a number of people who have had children out-of-wedlock. At some point in time, they were a single parent, raising their child on their own. Like the other families discussed here, maybe their situation isn’t ideal. Maybe there were things they could have done to avoid their situation. I would argue that still doesn’t mean they deserve to be ashamed.

In this world, where everyone, including religious leaders shame people for getting pregnant and shame them for ending said shameful pregnancy, who can these women turn to? It seems like these women shouldn’t be shamed at all. They should feel proud for their bravery at following through with a pregnancy they legally did not have to and bringing life into the world. So what if their family isn’t perfect. If they are there for their child, doing all they can to make their life good and happy, then they are doing more than many married-under-God couples out there.

We you raised by a single parent? Are you a single parent? Have you ever felt ashamed of your family because there are not two parents? Do you think you or other single-parent families should be ashamed? What do you think this priest wanted to accomplish by condemning single-parent families?

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31 thoughts on “Violent Attacks Against the Family: Single-Parent Families”

  1. Kudos to you for defending the single parent family! ❤
    I was a single parent for eight years due to divorce (my first husband had an affair with a coworker). It was actually during my years as a single parent that I stopped going to church. After one too many sermons on the sanctity of the "traditional" family, and one too many times of feeling like I didn't fit in with the married congregation, I said the heck with it.
    As a single parent I felt so much personal and societal pressure to be perfect. My total focus was on my children's happiness and success. As a teacher, I would hear other single parents using their singleness as an excuse as to why their child was lacking educationally, or in other areas. I was determined to never make excuses. Years later, we all turned out fine. I remarried, my kids finish college–one is almost finished medical school, and both are in extremely healthy relationships.
    Single parenting is tough, but it can be done successfully, and without the "inspiration" of the church.

    1. Kudos to you for being there for your family through it all. It’s so odd, because the church wants to help, but all they do is push people away. Telling people they are wrong or shameful only makes them feel shame. It makes them run. Sometimes, there are no reasons for why things happen, like infidelity. They happen and we deal with it as best we can.

  2. I’m a single mom, and I’m happy to say that I managed to screw up my kids quote nicely without anyone’s help. Lol, that’s not entirely true, they did visit their father. But both kids are attending college. I consider this my success bc their dad didn’t complete his degree.

    Another angle: my parents were married for 40 years, but I was raised my mom while Dad was bravely fighting in the Vietnam War. How did having a father on the other side of the world help me at all?

    Thanks for challenging the Pope, TK.

    Cheers!

    1. That’s very true. I didn’t think of that being a single parent family, although since you technically had a father, I’m sure this priest didn’t consider that to be “sinful.” He would have called it a necessary sacrifice or some such.

      Life is hard enough without people bringing you down. I don’t think being a single parent is anything to be ashamed of. It dosen’t make a family less real, less valuable or less able to hold life sacred.

  3. First of all, thank you for writing this post – I can definitely see a reblog coming on 😉

    This did upset me a bit as I felt the pressures of telling people I was a single mum when we first broke up – especially to the older generation.

    I’m from a Christian family, my parents have been married 45years and so that’s how I expected our relationship to go.

    Me and my ex partner had children out of wedlock, it was a total mistake and although we received some criticism at the time, I knew that keeping my babies was the right thing to do for me.

    We split a couple of years ago – through choice.

    We were constantly arguing and it was just an obviously unhealthy environment for all of us.

    Although I miss that family unit, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    It’s been hardwork raising two under five, but we are finally settled (no more moving), my finances are in the right place (as it’s not being spent as soon as it comes in) and our house is such a warm happy place! It’s a home. People come, and they don’t want to leave – not ideal sometimes. Ha ha.

    There’s no arguing or bickering (unless it’s over a toy), and this clearly reflects in them.

    They are my pride and joy and are such happy, loving little people and everybody comments. I’m so proud, because I know that’s down to me x

    1. Sometimes I see families split who maybe should have tried harder. But then, both people have to be willing to try. If only one and not the other wants to improve the relationship, it just will fail. And sometimes, not matter what a person does, the relationship simply isn’t going to work. Marriage is hard work and sometimes it simply dosen’t. If we define family as this priest did – a place that keeps life safe a sacred – then we have to be willing to do what we must. Sometimes, the best thing is to split. It’s never a happy thing and, if you ask me, splitting up to protect your life and the lives of your children on an emotional reason show just as much respect for life as any other family. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

  4. Reblogged this on Mums Need Wine and commented:
    I felt the need to reblog this as I can recall all too well, the fear and pressure of telling people I was a single mum. “Oh my god! What will they think?!”

    I think it’s important to remember that everyone has a story to tell, and although I miss the family unit to a certain extent, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    We were living in an unhappy, unhealthy situation and it wasn’t fair on any of us.

    My children are my pride and joy, and are such happy, loving little people, and I know that’s down to me.

    Raising children on your own is difficult enough without the judgement of others.

    Happy Reading x

  5. Single parent is, for many, the new normal. Any shame involved belongs to those who, ignoring the reality of our times, insist family be defined by the past.

    1. Exactly. A far better use of energy would be to encourage those families, support them and help them be just as much a sanctuary for life as anyone else.

  6. I was a single parent before I remarried – I was young, liberal about sex and passionately pro-life. When you have a lot of sex during your peak fertile years and birth control isn’t 100% effective, an unplanned pregnancy is merely a matter of time.

    And that’s how I looked at it – I knew what I wanted, I knew what was right, and because of that I had the backbone to internally give the world the finger when it was “suggested” to me with great condescencion that, you know, I had “options” (read: abortion) and didn’t have to be a single mom.

    Frankly I would love to see more stories like mine out there instead of the scare tactics of “Don’t be a single parent! You will RUIN your children! You will RUIN your life! You will ALWAYS be poor!” Those are direct quotes from my mom, by the way – always so supportive!

    1. It is just crazy. I mean, yes, there are always options. Reading between the lines, though, it seems what most people are saying is “you should have never had sex.” Those people who look down on giving birth out of wedlock are too often the same people who support no contraception, young marriage and are anti-abortion. Gee, thanks for making life easy. Guess what, the brain craves food, sleep and sex. Sex is going to happen. You could make a law banning sex before marriage and it would still happen.

      I don’t think anyone wants to be in a situation where they’re considering abortion, but if there’s not a medical reason behind that hard decision, there is a social one. In a world that does not lift up single parents and encourage them to be the best parent they can be… in a world that condemns having children out of wedlock with families who too often kick a young woman out of their home if she dares to become pregnant, it’s no surprise that abortions happen. Is it really that hard to be a little more supportive?

  7. I was raised by a single mom. I saw my dad but he could be a bit unreliable. My visits with him we’re short and infrequent. It took me a long time to realize that my youth was far from ideal. I spent most of my teen years alone, since my mom worked 12 hour swing shifts to pay bills and I’m an only child. Once I had a car I didn’t see my grandmother much either because I drove myself to school. Some would find it lonely or sad, but it taught me to be capable on my own, to be independent and decisive. And I enjoyed my alone time to read and write.

    But, my perception of family is a little skewed. My husband and I have been talking about kids, and I had admit that I wasn’t really sure what his role would be. I expected to do everything. Even after 6 years together my mind was subconsciously prepared to raise a child alone. And it made me hesitant to have kids. We’re still talking about it, and I’m still learning what a ‘normal’ family is supposed to be like.

    1. I get that. Like I said, my family was the picture of an ideal Catholic family. My boyfriend, on the other hand, has a split family. Some of his siblings have had a falling out with his father and have basically been disowned by them (as in, the sibling and his father don’t acknowledge each other anymore). It makes him uncomfortable about the idea of family and marriage. He’s gotten past that, in a way, but it will always be there in his mind, too. It’s just a part of him.

  8. “Of course, they didn’t have to choose to be a parent, did they.” When I first read the first thing I thought you’d say afterwards was they could’ve used protection or not had sex but I’m surprised you didn’t. But I wanted to put this view out there, maybe he was just trying to promote safe sex… cough cough… fyi this is a joke. I doubt the priest was trying to promote safe sex. What he was doing was trying to spread the word or in the catholic way, use a scare tactic of not having sex before marriage and not having sex at all just going about in a very wrong way by putting single parenthood into a negative light. Now, I’m not saying the priest was right in anyway in what he said at all, cause I agree with you 100 hundred percent he was wrong, just that maybe in his inexperience (I’m assuming he’s inexperienced since he was filling in) he tried to spread his point in a very wrong way and didn’t realize it.

    1. haha, safe sex. I left that out because I think it is highly illogical to expect people not to have sex outside of marriage. It is also illogical to assume such a relationship will not produce children without birth control. People take classes to learn how to have natural sex and not get pregnant by not having sex when you’re fertile or some such. more than 50% of people who took that class failed to make that work. In the grand scheme of things, certainly the church would rather a woman give birth and be a good single parent than abort. Adoption might be an option, but good luck getting support from a church while your sin grows in your abdomen.

  9. I think that the priest you’re writing about simply didn’t think his sermon through. First thing I have to say is that no human has power to judge the others, as according to the Bible, as far as I know, we are here to love and to help those in need, not to stone them… Every time I hear about such priests I just feel the urge to do something to them, seriously.
    Then everyone looks not only at Catholic but at all Christian Church through what those priests do, those who basically don’t abide by the rules they say are sacred and should be found the Bible.

    As for parenting, my family is a ‘perfect’ example of the first one. Yes, abuse, but you know what statistics say? That I’m in majority as the number of families who at some point experience abuse exceeds the number of those ‘biblical-perfect’. I’m grateful for my mom who mustered enough courage and thanks to whom I didn’t have to live in an abused family most of my life. No such luck for my older siblings, though. I wish they had grown up without all these scary memories that are like scars – they will never go away. Do you know how many of them in their adult lives have a healthy relationship? Well, let me think, out of 5 of them… none. Because that’s what living in this kind of dysfunctional family does to you. So to all those struggling with a decision to leave such a family – don’t think, just do. You can change the future of your children, so give them what they need the most – safety with an opportunity to grow up without developing psychological ailments. That’s basically it, all I have to say.

    1. I’m sorry you and your family had to go through that. I’m not sure if religion or some other force caused your parents to stay together for as long as they did. I do think we need to be more encouraging to people who are being abused. We need to let them know there is not only hope and sanctuary, but that your family can still be hole and sacred, even after you cut out the abuser.

  10. You missed one. Single Parents Through Infidelity.
    My best friend C eloped with the man she fell in love with. L and I were very against this. We had never met him and he didn’t look trustworthy to us. C wouldn’t listen, she was blinded by her happiness. He was away often, being a professional Soccer player and all. She had become pregnant. They were even discussing baby names. One day while he was away she got a phone call from one of her other best friends. She was informed by said best friends that not only was her friend also pregnant with his baby, but they had been together ever since C got married and he was leaving C for the friend. C is a god fearing women, so of course she kept the baby. She was 2 years into college when she filed for divorce. There in the court room, holding her new born baby in her arms and seeing the world in her eyes, C cried for her mistakes that her baby would have to suffer for. She said she was so unstable that before even entering the courtroom she threw-up in the bathroom. Her husband didn’t show up to court so the judge told C she could have whatever she desired, anything at all. Afterwards she went to speak with his family. She wants her daughter to have a big family and she liked his family. When she told them what happened his family simply said, “Of course he lied to you and cheated on you. That’s what everyone in our family does.”

    I think this priest is a misogynistic pig. I’ve actually met quite a few misogynistic pig priest in my day and I think I can say I’m a bit of an expert on the subject. Something about women being property in the bible, bleeding from our vaginas and being all gross and dirty blah, blah blah… patriarchal society that we live in I guess makes them feel that without a man in the house you’ll raise the spawn of Satan himself.

    1. I’ve met my share of terrible priests, but I’ve met far more good ones. Maybe it’s just the area I grew up in or something.

      In either case, infidelity is something I will touch on when I discuss divorce later in the month. Infidelity sometimes can’t be overcome and the only person who deserves shame is the one who cheated.

      I have seen many Catholic men and women try to say women are equal in the Catholic church. They have different but equal roles. I’m sorry, but where is the different but equal role to the pope, cardinals, bishops or priests? Women don’t get a say in the rules, they’re just expected to follow them. Besides, I thought we figured out a few decades back that separate but equal is never equal.

  11. There have been periods in my life where I’ve lived in single-parent households, and while things were never easy, (as a matter of fact, one of the years spent this way was one of the worst of my life) I don’t think my family was wrong for it. If my mom and dad had stayed together, my life would be significantly worse.

    1. Everyone’s life is different. I think some religions are obsessed with being perfect. Anything that isn’t perfect is shameful. Well, that’s just not okay. It’s not healthy for a single parent to feel weighed down by events in their life they had little control over. The church, or anyone who wants to actually help build a better world, would do better if they supported those families. Tearing someone down helps no one.

  12. I grew up with only my mom after the divorce. I get really upset when people judge single mothers. The fathers only escape it because they aren’t around and no one even knows who they are. I grew to hate the way Christians in church treated my mother and told her that it was her job to find me a father. I had a father once but he abused the whole family. My mom was enough for me.

    1. I have a lot of friends whose parents are divorced and they work damn hard to support their families. It pisses me off every time someone brings them down. You don’t know what they went through with their marriage. You don’t know the circumstances that lead to the divorce. Therefore, you don’t get an opinion.

      1. Totally right. My mom has been treated terrible for being divorced. My dad no one knows because he isn’t around to be blamed at all. It is best for people to stay out of it.

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