You Are Not a Real Single Parent

One of my pet peeves as a single parent was when married friends would say “I’m just like a single parent because he’s always working” or “I might as well be a single parent because he doesn’t help me with the kids” or a similar variation of claiming a false single parent status. Just last week a Facebook friend posted everyday about how tough her life was because she was a single parent while her husband was out of town for a week. It took all my self-control to not reply harshly and explain exactly why her situation was not that of a single parent and it was an insult to even attempt to compare.

Why does this always rile me up? I think it makes me mad because unless you’ve been a real single parent you can’t begin to know what it’s like. Even if your spouse is working in another country for a year, it’s not the same as being a single parent. In an extreme situation like that you may have to do all the tasks, pay all the bills and take care of the kids by yourself but there are some big differences.  I’ll throw out a few:

  • You know it’s temporary, your spouse is coming home eventually
  • You’re still part of a team with similar goals and plans
  • You have someone that is emotionally invested in your kids’ lives
  • You don’t have to deal with your kids’ emotional aftermath of divorce
  • You have someone to share the financial burden
  • You don’t have the complications that go with divorce; exes, your ex’s new partner, half siblings and stepsiblings for your kids, custody issues, etc.

I was a single parent for ten years until I married my second husband when my kids were eleven and twelve. I remember the shock the first time he drove on a field trip, the first time I had someone else to run to the store to get a loaf of bread, someone to help the kids with math. It was this incredible realization that parenting was completely different when you had a partner to share the experience. Those convenience things were great but even better was to have another adult that shared the worries and the celebrations.

I’ve been a single parent and I’ve parented as part of a team. Believe me when I say, that no one can say they are “just like a single parent” unless they’ve actually been there! I feel like a bit of a martyr complaining about this seemingly trivial infraction. Am I the only one that feels that way? What are your pet peeves as a single parent?

Categories: Single Stepping