Wednesday, 11 June 2014

It is not just foster parents

who are in need of extra support. It is also grandparents who are the full time carers for their grandchildren. That issue has also been raised in the media over the last couple of days.
I would add another group of people to that - single fathers.
When I was a child unmarried mothers were not well treated. To have a child out of wedlock was considered to be a great disgrace. Some girls were sent away by their families, others were sent to a home for "naughty" girls - girls who were considered promiscuous. Almost all of them gave up their babies for adoption. And yes, it was usually considered to be the fault of the girl and not the boy.
Now unmarried mothers are encouraged to keep their children. They get financial assistance from the government. They get other types of support as well. No, it isn't easy but for some it has been a lifestyle choice and for others at least they don't face the same widespread public approbation that previous generations did.
It seems it is a different story for grandparents - and single fathers.
There will be sympathy for grandparents who have lost a child through illness or accident and have had to take over the parenting role as well. If their child is in prison, on drugs or otherwise in trouble there will be much less sympathy. I think the attitude is "well you should have done a better job of bringing up your own child and this would not have happened". It still does not give them the same level of financial security or freedom that others of their generation have.
And single fathers? If they have lost a partner due to accident or illness then the attitude is "you should get married again and find someone to help you bring your child(ren) up". That seems an extraordinarily sexist attitude to me but it also seems to be widespread. What is more you don't get the same level of assistance as a single mother would.
I know about this at first hand. The Whirlwind's father is single. His wife, the Whirlwind's mother, committed suicide - the result of a brain injury following a car accident. (The other driver was drunk.) There has finally been some financial compensation paid but the Whirlwind's father has not had the same level of emotional support that, had the situation been reversed, her mother might have got. People still wonder why he has not married again. I have been told "he should marry and give her a mother".
It is not that easy and, like grandparents who care for their grandchildren, his social life tends to be restricted - while fending off well meaning but often inappropriate attempts to find him another partner.
Giving emotional support to people who are in caring positions is not always easy. We don't want to listen to other people's problems - although we like them to listen to ours.

No comments: