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National Single Parent Day

posted by Kristen Anderson

In 1984, Janice Moglen wrote an article with the aim of creating a Single Parent Day, hoping that it would gain the sort of recognition that both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day do. Janice collaborated with an organization called Parents Without Partners and together they started petitioning to have Single Parent Day declared across the United States.  

The date that was chosen is significant as it coincides with the origins of Parents Without Partners, which was first established on the 21st of March in 1957. Since then, this date has been embraced across the United States, as well as many other countries around the world. 

There are very few people in my friends & family circle who are single parents so it was something I didn’t have much of a model for. The only representation on tv and movies tended to be of a sad single mom, only saved by a new love. I certainly did not envision or plan to be the only adult in my household raising my children. I think it’s safe to say that, while some people do, the majority of people do not plan at the outset to be single parents, yet in Canada approximately 20 percent of children are raised in sole adult households.  

We all know that parenting is hard work. We also know that hard work is usually made easier with a partner. However, life happens and circumstances change, and the number of single parents is rising - whether by choice or happenstance. 

After the marriage relationship with their dad ended, I made a conscious choice to remain single for the duration of my children’s childhood. Single does not need mean celibacy or no dating. For me, it simply means I chose to be the sole adult in my household and parenting and financial decisions were my own.  

Society is built for the nuclear family. Tickets and hotel rooms are often for 4 people, 2 adults and 2 children. Speaking to single parents, they often communicate that they feel left out of many social functions. Coupled society does tend to “otherize” the singletons. I’ve thought about this a lot and why it happens, as obviously there is no ill intent. Maybe people think singletons are always looking for a mate? Or feel uncomfortable around couples? I can assure you this is not the case for the majority of single people. And as parents, we REALLY want our children to still feel a sense of greater community and connection to family and friends outside the household. Some of the loss for kids being raised by a sole adult are unnecessary. Having a parent who is “uncoupled” or single doesn’t have to mean a loss of relationships and community outside the household for either the adult or the child. 

What can you do to help out? Keep inviting your single parent friends & families to your celebrations! Uneven table settings are ok! Maybe offer a helping hand to that tired mama or dad when extra life stressors get piled on. Acknowledge that single parent families are complete and whole just the way they are. Parenting is one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of life. If you think they are crushing it, let them know!  

 And you, single parent reading this, you are doing a great job. Let’s honour and acknowledge our collective courage and strength.