Single Parents Day: Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre
Read the blog by Sara McHaffie, single parent and Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Development Officer at Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre to mark Single Parents Day (21 March) 2020
I was delighted when I was invited to write a blog for OPFS to celebrate single parents on Single Parents’ Day. At Amina: The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC) we aim to support, empower and celebrate all Muslim, Black and Minority Ethnic women and we couldn’t do that if we didn’t celebrate single mothers.
I celebrate single parents because I know how hard it is to be a parent in any context, and when everything depends on you alone the impact of any stresses and strains can be felt more keenly. Coping with that adversity and even thriving on it, showing your children love and being a role model for them is quite a task.
However, I know from my own experience there can be some lovely aspects to being a single mother. If you can tune out the stigmatising comments, you catch yourself and your children enjoying life and reaching the goals you’ve set for yourselves and everything feels worthwhile.
It’s really important to me that we as a society end the stigma about being a single parent. In my work as a development officer with our Ending Violence Against Women and Girls programme, I see stigma as one of the biggest barriers for women thinking about leaving an abusive relationship.
We know that living in a household where there is coercive control is not healthy for children. We know that nobody should live with abuse. However it can be very hard for someone to let go of the idea that children should be raised in a home with both their mum and their dad. When someone does decide to leave, and establish a single parent household, that stigma can also act as a negative internal voice which can lead someone to remarry quickly instead of taking time to heal.
Being a single parent has become a bit less unusual in Scotland over the past few decades, but some of the women I work with didn’t expect their lives to turn out this way and have to learn more new skills than the average single parent. Things like setting and sticking to a budget, getting your own bank account, paying utility bills and remembering to take the bin out can be a lot to take in while also readjusting to a new identity.
At Amina MWRC we try and make this learning process a bit more enjoyable, and we don’t want anyone to feel bad that they need to learn something new. With our Enterprise programme and Strength project, women join together to learn how to support themselves and how to cope with emergencies.
As with any Amina activity, we also learn from one another about different approaches to life’s unexpected events, as we often come from different countries with different ideas and ways of looking at things.
Another reason why we should celebrate single parents is that, sadly, some mothers become widows while their children are still young. When I coordinated our Refugee Support Project, I met several widows who had moved to not one, but two new countries while still grieving. The women had to develop a sense of themselves as single parents in their new context, all while learning English and learning about the systems we have here in Scotland.
In some countries and cultures it’s unusual for women to support themselves economically and it can be associated with various kinds of stigma and judgement. It often helped women to be able to meet me and see that I was earning enough to support myself and my children and that I was treated with respect by my colleagues, while being a single mother.
I am grateful for that respect, and for a job that allows me to be independent. I want that for every single parent. That’s why we should all celebrate single parents and show gratitude for every single parent who has made a difference in our lives.
Donate to support single parent families
We are working to bring about the change we want to see in Scotland:
A future where single parents and their children are valued and treated equally and fairly.
Providing vital support services that enable One Parent Families to achieve their potential.
Helping to create lasting solutions to the poverty which has such a deep impact on the lives of so many One Parent Families.Visit our donations page