By Kaelanne Jordan
A mental health clinician has this message for all single mothers and fathers: “You are not alone. You are doing the best you can for your child/ren, and you are doing a fantastic job. Give yourself some credit…”
So said Crystal Johnson of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) during a Topic Thursdays episode on Facebook live, yesterday (Thursday, September 5).
The programme, 15-20 minutes of live engagement which commenced June 27, was initially aimed at engaging the online community during the July/ August vacation in a “real way”, addressing issues of everyday life.
Previous sessions explored inter alia puberty, the father’s role in a daughter’s life, pornography, faith and hope in marriages in financial distress, and miscarriages. However, due to its “overwhelming response”, the sessions have continued.
During the latest episode, Johnson spoke on single parents, the negatives and positives associated with single parenting and some coping strategies for single parents.
Single parenting occurs when a parent, whether mother or father is raising a child on their own without a partner or spouse. The reasons vary, from divorce, abandonment, separation or the unfortunate passing of a spouse or partner.
Johnson highlighted the “long ago” approach of a village—grandparents, aunts and uncles raising a child made single parenting not “as heavy” as it is today.
“And I think because of modernisation, this village started to disappear and the lack of this community presence causes dysfunction to develop,” she said.
In either case, being a single parent can be very “difficult” as there are more “stresses” and “challenges” coupled with more responsibilities and decisions that are normally shared between a couple.
However, Johnson believes there are opportunities for a single parent to offer a “unique experience” between a parent and child i.e. the bond “that is beyond imagination” created between the two.
She also highlighted if the now single parent was part of an unhealthy or chaotic relationship, there is now an “ease of conflict” in the household. “Sometimes, it is a positive in that regard,” she asserted.
In terms of the challenges faced, here are Johnson’s observations: