Married Single Parents & The Solo Parenting Crisis
The 2005 supplement to the US Census reported that for the first time in modern history, households headed by singles now outnumber married couples. What's more, almost a third of American
children are being raised in unmarried homes. In practical terms,
single parenthood is no longer sheathed in secrecy. That means that
single parents—either by choice, divorce or widowhood—can actively seek
out the help and support that they need to successfully parent their
But that’s old news.
So what is the new news? A
trend I call, “Married Single Parents” or MSP’s. This is when one
parent works obscene hours—either by choice, habit or because American
workplace demands are spiraling out of control—and the other parent
raises the child/ren single-handedly. The working spouse might catch
a few minutes with the child here and there, but it doesn’t add up to
much real shared parenting.
What worries me about this trend is
that unlike single parents—who, in the best case scenarios, rely on a
network of extended family and friends to help them raise their
children—Married Single Parents don’t feel the same license to ask for
help. After all, they’re married. They might have a breadwinner in
the household. Someone else to worry about mortgage payments and
health insurance. They usually live in a house, and have a car. They
have all the trappings of the perfect American family. Even so,
they’re worth worrying about.
Why? Because it’s harder to
express your frustration when you seem to have it all. Compared to a
single parent, Married Single Parents feel that they can’t complain.
They’re also burdened by expectation. They’re supposed to be able to
handle child-rearing amongst them, so they’re less likely to ask for
There might also be other issues. Resentment towards
the workaholic spouse. Feeling isolated. Under-appreciated. I’ve also
heard many Married Single Parents express untold technology
rage—moments when they’ve wanted to detonate their spouse’s laptop or
Blackberry, or even better, the whole home office.
Mostly I worry
about Married Single Parents because it’s scary to finally have
everything you thought you wanted and still feel lonely and
What to do? I think we need to start a dialogue
about finding inventive ways to raise our children in community.
Because it’s neither healthy nor fair for one person to raise a
child—under any circumstances.
What are your thoughts? Are you parenting alone? By choice or by circumstance?