The Single Mother Project

When you hear the phrase ‘single mother’, what do you think of? (I’m not making you say it out loud, you over-sensitive lefty, you can be honest.) It’s not good, is it? Despite the fact that 25% of all families in the UK are single parent families (yes, that’s 1 in 4 for the mathematicians out there), there are still negative connotations attached to the phrase. If I’m being really honest, the phrase has always held negative meanings to me, despite being raised by a (the absolute very best) single mother, myself.

I won’t get into the government policy, legal loopholes and towers of paperwork that stand in the way of tax breaks, credits and benefits for single parents who are already stretched to the limit from raising children alone. Because frankly I’m too tired, busy and stretched-to-the-limit-from-raising-a-child-alone to do the research and write soundly about this. (However, you should check out who do great work supporting single parent families.)

But what I can do, because it’s been my job for over a decade and I can do it half-decently even on two solid years of bad sleep, is write about the media. About film, television, celebrity, fashion, beauty. All the really important stuff.

So, I’ve decided to start a new project. To highlight the, on-the-whole bonkers, portrayal of single mums (and dads) in the media. In film, TV, the news, in books. Anything I come across, or have come across. It won’t all be negative (hello, Erin Brockovich) but as usual, I approach the task with full pessimism and an expectation of disappointment.

If you’ve ever wondered just how Rachel from Friends has time for endless coffees with the gang when you haven’t seen your friends in months (or pondered just where exactly Emma is, and who’s looking after her) or wondered why not a single one of the mindless cartoons your toddler makes you watch features a single parent family to help your child feel ‘normal’, join me as I embark on…

The Single Mother Project.

I’ll be posting reactions to depictions of (or lack thereof) single parents in the media, and discussing themes that crop up. (For example, why are single mother protagonists always divorced, but single fathers always widowed? Because men don’t get the kids unless the woman dies? Or because women are unbearable and likely to be left alone?)

JOIN ME. And leave suggestions for things to watch and post on in the comments, s’il vous plait.

Mad Men Betty Draper

Full disclosure; the films and TV shows I talk about will not be (all that) new. A lot of them will be wildly outdated. I haven’t watched TV since Christmas and I have two jobs, a child and a cat to prioritise over this silliness. It’s also possible there will be long gaps between posts, or that I’ll get distracted and stop altogether due to sleep-related emergencies or house disasters that I’m ill-equipped to deal with. What I’m saying is, don’t unsubscribe to the Guardian Long Reads podcast and think that your weekly entertainment is sorted. I am a single mother. Everyone knows they’re wildly unreliable.


The Marriage Story

Fun Mom Dinner

Bad Moms

About A Boy


5 thoughts on “The Single Mother Project

  1. Just came across your other article. It made me cry! So spot on! I followed the link here…
    My faiv must be the belief that single mothers spend their child benefit and/or maintenance on nails extension and make up – I heard someone (a rather privileged mum fortunate enough to be a stay at home mum, fully supported by her husband) commenting after watching one of those programmes about ‘people on benefit and living large’! I don’t watch that kind of silliness and I work f/t with no maintenance from my child’s dad! I’m a professional and my nails look lovely 😉

    1. Thank you for reading! Exactly. You always think these stereotypes are long-forgotten, but unfortunately not. And if your nails look lovely AND you’re holding everything else down I’d say you’re winning 😉 x

      1. Yeah. The stereotypes are still going on strong. I since realised that I am also responsible as I was judging myself based on these stereotypes. Working full-time made me into that type of mum I really did not want to be: yelling most of the time and begrudging everything around me, even the nicer things. And? Well, I changed my working hours to part-time hours, budget here and there and I am now a broke-ish mum who talks instead of yelling. My child and I are getting on much better and we laugh a lot about what before would make me yell!
        I still feel embarrassed when people ask me about my husband. Why do they assume I’m married or, indeed, I have a partner? I look at their expressions when I say “I am a single mum!” Sometimes it feels as if I said “I am on drugs!”.
        I don’t have family support and I don’t like the idea of having a childminder (plus, can’t really afford one), so it’s all on me. I don’t ask for help because I’m too independent. Well, so I thought. I realised that being independent doesn’t come into it. Yes, I am. I’ve to be; however, I still need helps, heaps! The reasons I don’t ask is because I am embarrassed. I don’t want to appear needing, a liability. Yes! That stereotype again!
        In taking the decision to work p/t, I had to challenge the stereotype within me, firstly.
        Now, I am determined to find another job (p/t), a career change of some sort – I am sooo tired that I can’t even figure out what I’d like to do – with higher earnings and at a much slower pace.
        I don’t want to be a super (single) mum that does it all by herself. That is no my idea of good balance living. That’s nuts. I need friends. I need help. I need to laugh and I need to rest.
        Happy Sunday to you all

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