I’m a father. That means that I have at least one child. Actually I have two. I’m also a parent. This suggests that I share the task of fathering with someone else. I do. I co-parent with my wife, the mother of those two children, and to whom I’ve been married for more than thirty years.
Because I’m a parent I love our two children. But so do most normal parents. So I’m at least as normal as any other normal parent.
However, because I’m a parent, and, I believe, only because I’m a parent, I have, at times thought certain thoughts, felt certain feelings, and have been impelled by certain impulses. In all of this I think, again, that I’m normal.
There have been times – but only for split-seconds – when I seriously considered taking the life of one, or other, sometimes both, of my progeny. And when, during those split-seconds, I also contemplated the consequences of my actions, I thought that the Chief Justice himself would step down from his seat of judgment, throw his arms about me, and congratulate me for my actions. For he, too, would have seen the wisdom of my deed. And if the twelve ‘good men’ of the jury were parents – they would have understood completely.
There were other moments when I wondered if the Good Lord had sent these two as special punishments for some grievous sin I’d committed in some previous sojourn on this particular – or some other – cosmic ball.
There were yet other times when, even though I was sure that they were the seed of my loins, I had cause to doubt that; believing – if only for nano-seconds – that they were the offspring of the One called Lucifer.
But ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine-five percent of the time, I loved those two children. Especially when they were babies, and even when they were teenagers I loved them. I still do. I believe that my wife may have loved them even more than I and she may not have suffered those momentary lapses of which I speak. But then, she is a woman, and as a woman, she is biologically designed, specially built, and intellectually set up to care more than I – a mere man.
So, as one half of a parent team, I think that I understand something about double parenting. But, never having been a single parent, I confess that I don’t know much about single parenting.
In my ignorance of single parenting, I wonder how single parents cope. I wonder who they turn to when those primeval urges well up. But, perhaps, these urges don’t happen with single parents. Perhaps single parents have different children who are always obedient, eternally thoughtful, and who always consider the results before they commit their childish actions. Perhaps single parents are singularly blessed with perfect children.
But if their children are not perfect, how do they cope? And do single parents cope as well as the natural team of father and mother?
Judging by the number of persons in Westgate who share a common denominator of mother present, father absent, single-parenthood; it may be that certain aspects of single parenthood may be indicators of future problems.
Why then is single parenthood chosen more frequently today than before?
I guess that one of the reasons may be that there’ve been lots of books written – by experts – and many theories expounded – by experts – on child-rearing. Many of these books give the impression that child-rearing is easy. I confess that I’ve read a few of these books. However, I must also confess that, with hindsight, I think I’d have gotten better use from these books – especially the thicker ones – if I’d used them as bludgeoning devices in my unrelenting battle to maintain an upper hand in the continual inter-generational warfare in my household.
These books and theories so often suggest that there are simple rules, which, if followed will guarantee success in child-raising. However, the only simple rule that I found that always worked was: “Strike first!” Punish! Then ask!
This invariably provoked an inter-generational discussion of varying intensity. But because I had already seized the high ground, I discussed from a position of strength. With the hindsight from two decades of child-raising as part of a natural team, I now know – not believe – KNOW that the natural team is the best team. That all other child-rearing arrangements are creaking substitutes.
So why would someone – anyone – choose single-parenthood?
I understand that single-parenthood can happen as a result of ignorance and inexperience, condom slippage, pill failure, wrong rhythm, or just plain trickery. I accept that when this happens, one is left with no real choice. But I am puzzled by people who knowingly choose single-parenthood.
By this I mean those persons who choose to rear a child when they know they are not part of a natural team. Marriage is one way to form a natural team. A steady long-term cohabitation can also make a good natural team. But where neither of these two adult relationships occurs, it’s unwise – stupid even – to attempt to successfully rear one child, or two, or three, or more.
If my experience is anything to go by, those primeval urges will come, and if not properly handled, the children can be damaged. I believe that many children of single parents are damaged. My belief is supported by Bermuda’s national social statistics. It is also supported by the statistics of many other countries whose people care enough to study these things. And Bermuda does, after all, have the world’s seventh highest prison population. Which means that 193 other countries are doing better than us.
What to do about it?
Support the natural team! Join one or form one! Don’t go single!