Assessing Single Parents

Posted on April 18th, 2010

An article in The Times newspaper by Ms JK Rowling, celebrated author of the Harry Potter tales and much publicised single mother who lived on state benefits in rented accommodation spoke about the two leading political parties’ polices in relation to single parents.  Ms Rowling champions this family makeup as she was left to care for her four year old daughter whilst teaching part-time after she separated from her husband.  Ms Rowling claims to have been clinically depressed during this period of her life as well as it being the time when she wrote her world famous novels.

Ms Rowling points to the Conservative party’s historical dislike for single mothers, having declared them the ‘worse social evil’ and the root cause for the breakdown of British society.   Interestingly single fathers finding themselves in the same position are often hero worshipped.

Avocet Independent Social Workers frequently undertake assessments with single parents, particularly young parents who seem to create more anxieties amongst professionals and also stimulate outward pouring of scorn from older generations. These single young parents, often living on or below the poverty line find themselves in a situation that the Labour party claimed it intended to rid society of when they swept to power. Today these same single parents are seen as voters and all parties are selling themselves as their champions, signing up to the Gingerbread campaign.

Avocet is actively involved in assessing young parents who have often lived in large families or with step-parents and siblings in a tense, volatile atmosphere. These young people recreate their own home lives, misinterpreting sexual intercourse for love and attention and the cycle of breakdown begins again.

During our experience of assessments with young single mothers, to date none have held Ms Rowling up as a role model. These young people aim to be hairdressers, beauticians or employed in the childcare business. The roles these young parents seek are usually low paid and it is often due to a lack of confidence and low-self esteem that these young people are not aiming higher.  Young single parents need to be encouraged to try to achieve and a starting point needs to be the education system. They require stimulation in order to be valued for their minds, personality and not solely for their looks or wiliness to participate in unprotected sex. This is not a new mantra, but it is one that still can not be resolved by either leading political party.   

These young women need to understand that education is the way for them to develop a lifestyle free from poverty. Ms Rowling is a primary example of the education system rescuing a single mother from a life of poverty. The difficulty comes when low educational achieving young women become mothers and their only reading material is fashion magazines that display their worth through being associated with clothes that attract the attention of males. This point was highlighted this week when a well known high street retailer padded the bikini tops of 7 year olds. This attitude does not help solve the issues of young single parents coming in to contact with Childrens Social Care departments across the UK and requiring assessments by Independent Social Workers.


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