Have You Been Asked If You're Babysitting Your Own Children?
Gingerbread, a platform that provides advice and support for single parents, has highlighted 20 things not to say to a single parent. Single parents will unfortunately have heard many of these things before, but for the rest of us, we have compiled a brief summary.
What's The Worst You've Heard?
When you separate from a partner, coping with comments aimed towards you as a parent can be a trying ordeal. People will speculate about what caused the split, but your main concern will be the children.
Approximately 1 in 4 families is a single parent family in the UK
, and around 9% of parents equally share the care of their children. Comments such as, "You have to be both mum and dad…" to which a parent often replies, "Nope, just their dad" aren't very helpful when dealing with child contact issues. Just because you've split, it doesn’t mean you can't play an active role in your child's life with the co-operation of the other parent.
Carol Chrisfield, Solicitor at Simpson Millar LLP specialising in resolving children issues comments, "it is important that despite a separation, parents still try to work together to co-parent effectively." When going through child contact problems "it is not always easy for either parent to hear this advice, particularly very soon after the separation".
In most cases, parents will try to stay together for the sake of the children and separated parents will have to endure comments like, "I can't believe you didn't try to work it out for the sake of your son". People don't just give up on a relationship overnight
, and when children are involved even more thought will go into the process. Moving on from this, contact for a time that's suitable for the child and the parent can be the balancing act that is most difficult for parents.
Some comments that caught our eye included "people assume I'm a 'Saturday' dad" and "It's good your ex babysits so you can go out." The second comment is the one that Carol has found parents hate the most
. Being called a "babysitter" for their own children for the other parent insinuates that they're part-time parents and don't put in as much effort as the other parent. These can be damaging comments, especially if coming from the other parent and can set back any child contact talks that are in progress
. It's important to be very careful when speaking to any parent – whether separated or not.
Carol continues, "It's a tough job and parents don't always feel that their hard work is recognised." The strength that each parent has in the relationship with their child is very important. It may not be practical for you to be there all the time but having the child's best interests at heart and starting from a point of recognition that each parent has their role to play should help arranging when negotiating possible contact