There are currently nearly 2 million lone parents caring for in excess of 3 million children in the UK at this time with between 40% and 50% of children born outside of the conventions of marriage.
The increase in numbers of single parent families
Forty years ago it was the exception rather than the norm for a child to be brought up in a household with one, as opposed to two parents – married to each other rather than co-habiting. Almost a quarter of all children in England and Wales live with just one parent and the majority, nine out of ten, are in households headed by a lone mother, divorced or otherwise.
Children in the UK are three times more likely to live in a one parent household than in the early 1970’s. Since that time the proportion of people living in a traditional household consisting of a married couple with dependent children has fallen from over 50% to less than 40%.
What do these figures actually mean?
Unfortunately, children living in one parent households are more likely to achieve less at school, more likely to commit crime and more likely to be living in poverty or in rented accommodation.
Single parents are trying to make it as parents just like the rest of us
Contrary to popular perception most single parents are not irresponsible teenagers who have deliberately become pregnant – although these probably account for some 3% of lone parents, (approximately 60,000) - but they are ordinary men and women who have had single parenthood forced upon them through relationship breakdown or possibly the death of a partner.
They are typically in their 30’s and 40’s and are mostly just trying to do their best under what may be difficult circumstances. Single parents can make a great family for their kids, better to have a harmonious family with one parent than discord and strife in a two parent family.
What is clear is that there is no point in society wringing its hands, complaining about the breakdown of the family and blaming it on those who find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to raise children with just one resident parent.
Being a single parent
Looking after children as a lone parent on top of relationship breakdown or divorce is incredibly difficult. Not only do you have to come to terms with the breakdown of your relationship with your spouse but your financial situation may well have changed dramatically as well. It's not easy for a now single mum but it can be very hard for a single dad.
Many parents will do their level best whatever the problems between them to ensure that contact with their children for the one who has moved out will continue on a regular basis with as little acrimony and as much co-operation as possible. Unfortunately this is not always the case.
However, there is a growing amount of support available for mothers and fathers who find themselves in this invidious position. Gingerbread, is a great organisation for single parents have masses of advice for lone mums and dads on their website.