A blog by Claire Standen Coaching
90 % of single parents in the UK are women. That’s quite a shocking statistic, and it got me thinking about how that could possibly be. I feel passionate about the rights of women and girls, and it seems to me that we might have a long way to go if this is really the case. Where do the men go, I wonder? Where are the dads? They can’t all be so terrible that they’re incapable of parenting.
I remember listening to an American divorce coach (The Kickass Single Mom) who talked about 50:50 parenting, and who said the number one reason women gave not to was that they didn’t trust their ex-partner. Her response was: he’ll figure it out! This seems to me to me a very reasonable idea. After all, over the last four years, I’ve figured out a plethora of issues. It’s been on me to sort childcare, school uniform, snacks, lunches, sports kits, tired school mornings, play dates and even, during the pandemic, home schooling… For four years (seven if you count the years I was married), I did all the drop offs and all the pick-ups, the sick days, everything. I took the financial hit. Y
It’s a natural consequence, I think, of all the work that I’ve done on my ‘stuff’ that things change across time, or rather that I will make changes to my external circumstances as I find what needs to be addressed. It seemed to me that rather than struggle on, trying to find solutions to the endless sticky situations that being a single parent with the majority responsibility for the kids left me facing day in, day out, I could make a change that supports me in moving forward. Rather like that lovely saying ‘nothing changes, if nothing changes’. The difference between addressing stress and addressing the causes of stress is covered in Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s book ‘Burnout’, which gives excellent tips and strategies for doing both, even in the context of patriarchy.
The way I see it (and another insight from the Kickass Single Mom) is that if issues like childcare and sickness don’t affect men in the workplace, nothing will change. I believe women have been taking the responsibility (and costs) of raising children almost single handedly, for too long. Nowhere is it more stark than in single parent households. Instigating a 50:50 parenting setup is one small act of everyday feminist activism for me, and I’ll advocate for it while I
A) Have an uninterrupted shower/ sex-for-days/ hot cup of tea…
B) Write this blog and other creative pursuits
C) Envision a life that goes beyond hamster-wheelesque levels of ‘doing’.