Being a single parent in a conservative society like ours is a struggle of its own. No one understands the trauma that comes with the notion of being one, the emotional and physical trauma of losing a partner to death or the irreconcilable differences and grave circumstances that drifted the two apart. It’s a known fact that children are at the helm of suffering too and a single parent in such a situation, be it a man or woman; has no choice but to withstand the adversities that come their way. In a desi society like ours, anything going wrong for a person attracts more attention than success. And judgments on their DOs and DONTs are perceived according to their set mental standards of what is ‘normal’ or what is ‘expected’ of them.
Adapting to this new life pattern comes with its due share of struggle. From battling judgements to finding financial liberty and creating a healthier environment for their children, a single parent goes through many problems.
Constantly being judged:
Let’s be honest; we are nosy, judgmental and always ready to give our two cents on every situation. God forbid, one loses a partner or ends up being divorced or separated in a desi society, specifically Pakistani society, the khandaan, let alone the society shifts its focus gears to who’ll raise the child and how. One is constantly being judged for their sin of becoming a “single parent” and you have judgmental eyes stalking you at every footstep with little to no sign of help.
Play the dual role:
Single parents have to adopt that dual role, both of the father and mother. They have to let go of one instinct to catch up to another or perhaps be more intuitive to their children’s needs than ever before.
Juggling work and family life:
Since it’s all new to the parent, the most daunting task is to juggle and create a balance between work and family life. In a family that has no support system at all, single parents suddenly have to make priorities along with the weight of expectations. They have to strike the right balance between the two and be perfect at it as well (not us, but desi households expect you to!).
Choosing a healthier environment:
In a Pakistani environment, single parents are under a constant pressure in opting for a better environment for their children. To live with the in-laws/family or raise their kids in an independent setup…is one question they are never sure of and only figure out with time. This obviously comes with financial independence albeit with a sprinkle of unnecessary expectations from the family.
More in sync with their children’s needs:
Single parents have to be more than vigilant of their children’s needs. They have to be all out in being their support system as children fall back on their parents for that emotional cushion.
Handle difficult conversations:
As the societies are progressing opening new venues in one’s social lives, single parents have to find ways of being expressive in this conservative society. To create a bonding with their children, they have to approach difficult conversations dealing with their privacy and adult issues.
Single parents struggle to find independence:
Single parents never have it all in our society, rather they don’t have the liberty to enjoy their life or bring up their children the way they want to. If it is a widowed or a divorced woman in a joint family system, that mental pressure knows no boundaries. They constantly have to live up to the expectations of the family first and then the society. Sometimes, the helplessness reaches to the extent where everyone gives their piece of mind even for their career and financial choices.
Struggling to start a new life:
Everybody has the right to start all over again and so do the ones who have lost a partner or been divorced. Very few households are open to single parents remarrying or settling in as they perceive it as straying away from their moral duties or neglecting their child’s needs.