Are You Really a Single Parent?

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( I came across a topic on Facebook regarding single parenting.  The following question was posed.  If a father has a child for the equal amount of time or more than the mother even when the child is living with the mother, is the mother truly a single parent?  I thought this was an interesting question and of course the Facebook responses were just at interesting.

According to Wikipedia the definition of a single parent is as follows: single parent usually refers to a parent who has most of the day to day responsibilities in the raising of the child or children, which would categorize them as the dominant caregiver.  The dominant caregiver is the parent in which the children has residency with majority of the time; if the parents are separated or divorced children live with their custodial parent and have  visitation with their noncustodial parent.  In western society in general,  following separation, a child will end up with the primary caregiver, usually the mother, and a secondary caregiver, usually the father.

I suppose the Wikipedia definition is true to some point, but in this day and age this is not always the case.   As a matter of fact, due to changing parenting trends we may find some parents labeled as single parents when in fact they are not.

After divorce, separation or break ups; some couples find themselves disagreeing about parenting arrangements.  During divorce and child support court proceedings issues involving visitation and custody can turn ugly.

On the other hand some couples work very well together in raising their children in separate households.   Parents sometime have a very unique setup involving when, where and how a child will visit or be raised by both parents.  This brings me to wonder if some parental roles are mislabeled.

Take for instance a recently divorced couple.  The mother works hours that cause her to arrive home after eight in the evening once she picks her children up.  Here’s a typical day.

Mom sees the children off to school and picks them up from their dad’s at 8pm.  The father picks the children up from school.  He helps with school work and makes sure that they have dinner.  Mom picks them up, arrives home and gets them settled in for the night.  This goes on Monday through Friday.  Mom and dad also alternate keeping the children on the weekends.  Even though the children live with the mother it’s obvious that the children are being cared for by the father quite often.

Here’s a second scenario.   The couple is no longer married, with one son. He attends school in the father’s school district and is registered in school under the father’s name.  Their child stays with the dad one week and mom the next, from Sunday to Sunday.  This arrangement of alternating back and forth every week works well for both parents.  In addition, the child sees the father every day after school until the mother arrives to pick him up during the week when he is with her.   Again we can clearly see in this case the father has the child as much as the mother, if not more.

So if we are to go by Wikipedia’s terminology of single parenting clearly these mothers are not single parents because they are not parenting the majority of the time alone.  That in turns leaves me to ask. Who is really the single parent here? 

Since we are a society that is caught up on labels and titles maybe we should be using a different name to describe the parents that were just mentioned.  Being that one parent is contributing just as much time in raising their children as much as the other parent, maybe the term single parent should be changed to co-parent in this case.  Perhaps the term co-parent would be more appropriate. 

Staff Writer; Eleanie Campbell

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