Co-parents are not single parents.

I had an interesting conversation (read: argument) the other day with a friend about her use of the term “single mum”. Single parents are not a new phenomenon but they are on the increase globally. I saw a statistic the other day that said “15% of children around the world live in single parent households”. Here in South Africa (SA), only about 30% of children live with both their parents. Of the over 1.1 million births registered by the SA government in 2014, 64% of said registrations had no information regarding the fathers.

There are numerous reasons why single parent households are on the increase but that’s a conversation for another time. Today I just want to scribble about the term “single mother”. I can’t help but think some mothers are misappropriating (for lack of a better word) the term. Now, I agree you don’t live with the father of your child, but is that enough to be categorised as a “single mother?” What if the child’s father is present and active in the child’s life? Are you still a single mother then? My sister and cousin are fitting examples of this:

My sister is a single mother. She takes care of her daughter’s every need. We last saw my niece’s father about 8 years ago. He doesn’t contribute anything to his daughter’s wellbeing. He doesn’t call her, doesn’t send Christmas cards, hell, he doesn’t even know what school she goes to. In fact, he’s pretty much dead to us…till he decides to pop up out of nowhere when his daughter’s all grown up and employed…the absent father’s ultimate party trick.

On the other hand, my cousin’s baby daddy is present in their son’s life. He pays the boy’s school fees, buys him clothes, takes him on holiday with his other kids, and takes him on alternating weekends. He attends most of the boy’s school events and has been there for all his birthdays to date. The only difference between their setup and a “traditional household” is they do not live together. They are married to and live with other people. So can my cousin call herself a single mother? Personally, I don’t think so. Co-parent? Yes! Single mother? No!

And yet, so many women in my cousin’s situation still throw around the term “single mother”. Question is: is that fair to an active father? I play my part in the welfare of our child and you, his mother, continue to label yourself a single mother? Seems a tad unfair don’t you think? More than taking away from an active father, I think it takes away from actual single mothers because, God knows, “real” single mothers have their work cut out for them. It’s even worse when they don’t have a supportive family or adequate finances to get help.

Ultimately, whether you’re a single parent, co-parent, or parent in a “traditional household”, you hold a precious life/lives in your hands as parents. So do everything you possibly can (and more) to ensure your child becomes everything they can be. And remember, unless one parent has died, there really shouldn’t be any single parents out there. If you played your part in creating a life, play your part in raising that life.

**** Just scribbling my parental thoughts ****

Ps: Shout out to the single fathers out there. Rare as they may be, they are there; single handedly raising their kids. We see you too.

 

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Hey Government, forget housing people. Demolish homes instead. It’s quicker, cheaper, and more arousing

A woman pleads with the bulldozer driver about to demolish her home

A woman pleads with the bulldozer driver about to demolish her home

There’s a story on these South African shores that’s really got my nuts aching…actually aching. It’s happening in the Johannesburg area of Lenasia, Extensions 13 and 14. To quickly bring you up to speed, there are housing scam syndicates that operate around the country illegally selling government land. The government doesn’t take too kindly to this so they demolish whatever houses are built on the land.

What essentially happens is these fraudsters sell plots of land for up to R95,000 (just over US$10,000) to unsuspecting buyers desperate for housing. The government has a housing backlog of over half a million homes. As a result, people are desperate for houses. So they purchase land from these “agents” who issue them with fraudulent deeds of sale with the Department of Housing (DOH) logo, signatures, the works. Thinking they have finally purchased land, residents spend more of their hard earned (and believe me, it is hard earned) money to build on this land.

Then one day, the government comes over, tells you the land was purchased illegally, and asks you to move. To where? I mean some of these people have lived on this land for up to 10 years. Who in their right mind would just up and leave land they have paid for, a house they have built for their family, their lives pretty much? If you don’t move, then one day (last week in this case), the DOH sends in bulldozers and a drove of pigs…or police or whatever…to demolish your home. I mean, what’s the logic…if any…behind this?

You as a department are struggling to house people but you’re demolishing the homes of those who’ve worked hard to house themselves. The DOH says it is sending a message to the fraudsters illegally selling land. Really? That doesn’t even make any sense. How about using those police who are evicting people from their homes and demolishing their houses to rather investigate and arrest these syndicates of fraudsters?

Maybe I’m missing something here, or maybe I’m just using common sense where the government refuses to. But demolishing houses when you have a massive housing backlog just doesn’t seem very logical. What’s worse, you don’t even make any accommodation arrangements for those people whose homes you are destroying. And yes I know the houses where purchased illegally, land belongs to the governments, etc. But there’s a big picture here, a much bigger one: Lives! People’s lives! YOUR people’s lives! People YOU have to house eventually.

Wouldn’t it be better to just inspect the houses to ensure they are built correctly and safely, issue correct documentation, ensure taxes are paid, and that the water and electricity services are legally connected? Surely all the minds in the DOH and the City of Joburg municipality can’t have come up with demolition as the most logical and only solution. I mean, really?

Maybe the government should just hire these fraudsters as actual legal agents because they seem to do a better and quicker job at housing people than the DOH. But as we all know, bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status. *Just scribbling my thoughts!*