What You Don’t Know About Single Parenting

Jaibala/ August 2, 2016/ Musings/ 73 comments

As father’s day passed by, I see a lot of these trends like #SalutingSingleMoms #FathersCanBeMothersToo , because this is what people make single parenting all about. When in an advertisement you see a son gift his mother a mug that says ‘World’s Best Dad’, or a meme saying in effect that a single dad is as caring and loving as a mom, it immediately becomes aspirational.

I won’t lie; three years back all this is what I thought it meant to be a single parent. I wanted to be that mom who got that Mug from her son. In my mind I was thinking that the people around me would question my decision and I will be judged and I would have to fight and struggle hard to be his parent – both his parents.

I remember a piece of advice I had gotten from a well wisher, saying that now since I was his only parent I needed to be his dad too. I needed to be rough with him and throw him around like a father would so that he does not feel like he is missing out on any life experience. And for the most part I believed that.

Then began the process of trying to be two people to one. I had to be Mom and Dad and I had to do it right or else my son would be missing something. And so I turned into this helicopter parent who worried too much, disciplined way too often and demanded way too much from a toddler. I began to lose sleep and smiles over doing this single parenting thing right.

But I was still judged, for being too modern and how this radical thinking would not give me and my son any comfort. I was told that there is a void – a deep void that I cannot fill alone. People pointed out my pitiful existence and sorry state of affairs so many times. And then there was another extreme that lauded me for my beliefs and even put me on that exalted pedestal that I wanted to be on a single mom = to a dad = the bravest strongest person alive. I was lauded for heralding in Women Supremacy and Empowerment.

But honestly, neither one made me happy. Because I was not either one of them, I lived an almost normal life somewhere in between both these extremes. For three years as his only parent, I have realised that there are many things I learned about single parenting.

I am not looking to fill a void in life because nothing is incomplete

No let me rephrase that, there is no more of a void in my life than there is in anyone else’s. Yes I am single and yes I am a parent, but that is it. Don’t read anything more into that statement. We are all different and want different things from life, just like any normal person. And yes we are not abnormal.

Single Parent is always missing out on something

No really I am not sad and not a victims. I am actually for the most part very happy, and satisfied with my life. I make choices and prioritise things in life, but then so do most parents today. Yes on an off day, I do feel like I need a Personal assistant, but then who doesn’t? There are way too many experiences to have in life and the day is very short to do it all. I have never missed an important occasion in my son’s Life and have never had to compromise. That is just a choice I make every day.

My kid is mostly happy and doesn’t miss what he doesn’t have

Yes, really my son is normal and healthy and most of the times does not know even that he is missing something. On a rare occasion that he does I just deal with it normally and he moves on. Actually you never miss what you never had. And if the child is healthy and happy, is he missing anything at all?

I am not one of two extremes. Mostly I toe the middle.

I am neither a very brave and strong woman, nor a weak damsel who needs saving. On most days I am just a normal person going about doing things that need doing. My life’s choices have brought me to this place today, but then so has everyone else’s. There are days that I breeze through and some days I don’t want to get up out of the bed. But on most days I am dealing with what life throws my way, one minute at a time, one day at a time.

Yes he carries my name….but it doesn’t mean I am replacing his father

You know what I hate most, when a form readily substitutes his middle name for Father’s name. Why does the society think that children’s identity begins and ends with their father are a debate for another day! But what I want to say is that just because he carries my name I am in no way trying to replace his father.  Or worse be his father, it is a hard enough job being his mother. All I am doing is giving him an identity he can identify with. With some it is their father’s name, with others like us it is not. But that definitely does not mean that I can be two people to him. I am just trying everyday to be the parent that he needs.


I am his mother, I am his only parent. And I am doing the best job of being his parent that I can. Being a single parent is a matter of chance or choice. When it is chance, well you learn to grow into it. When it is by choice you know what to expect (though as I said before there can be certain unrealistic expectation). I am not saying it is easy, I am not saying it is just the same like parenting with a spouse (I know I miss the good cop while trying to discipline him sometimes). All I am saying is this, Single Parenting  is neither about being a victim nor about being a super human. It is just about being a parent, the best way you know how.



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About Jaibala

Academically a Microbiologist, I am a Web Columnist for popular magazines and websites, Freelance Writer and a Blogger. Words define me and writing and reading compete to be the love of my life. My biggest belief is that there is something good in everything and I always looks to highlight the best in things. Creative writing is my forte.You can reach me by dropping a mail at contact@jaibalarao.com


  1. While it is true that parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, it can also be one of the toughest responsibilities ever, especially if you are a single parent. No matter what your circumstances or reasons, once you are a single parent, you should be prepared for the good and bad and handle it accordingly.

  2. Parenting is tough and when it comes to single parenting you seem to in a dilemma always, mostly not knowing whether what you are doing is right for you and the kid. it is like a responsibility which you need to carry out without hurting your child, be dotting, be loving and yet not let him feel over protected and over indulged.
    I know all this from my friend who needs our support in terms of stress busters…really tough

    1. Yes Menaka, it is. But I have seen most parents struggle with these choices. Its not about being tough or different, it is about letting us be the best parent we can, without the judgment of being different from the accepted family set up.

  3. I’m proud that you are challenging the stereotypes and as long as your lil’ one is happy, there isn’t room for worry. Be true to yourself. Stay happy.
    Shalini R recently posted…Keen as MustardMy Profile

    1. Thank You Shalini, for reading and your wishes. Stay Happy sound like a good plan whatever may happen.

  4. I can see it comes straight from the heart of a very balanced person with a radical mind. Rightful to your claims in each point, you are a happy person and a happy person raises a happy child, so you have nothing to worry. Loved it…keep going.

    1. Thank You Prerna for stopping by, and welcome to the space. So true those words, a happy person does raise a happy child.

  5. Jaibala, thanks for writing this honest post highlighting the perspective of a parent who is raising a happy child single-handedly. Yes this post compels me to see it this way instead of the term Single parenting. People tend to judge no matter what is the situation. It is better to block them out and I know you have successfully done that. More power to you.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…Spare us, Oh Gal! #BarAThon Day 4My Profile

    1. Thank You for reading Anamika. Also thank You for getting the point I was trying to make spot on. Also about people, yes they do that and we need to learn to block them out.

  6. wow!! Such Lovely article!! It should be just “parenting” nothing single or double. I mean, really I have seen people explaining themselves too while they are parenting a child being a single. Not needed…right!! You are a parents that'[s it. You have really touched the core.

    1. Yes Tina exactly my point. Each one of us is doing the best job we can and that should honestly be enough.

  7. I know every bit of the post and points that you raise/mention, because I know you. At least, I think I do. Don’t I? Ignore me. Am rambling a bit. 😛

    I knew this post might be a possibility, and glad that it was. 🙂 Continue being the awesome and nice WM that you are. As long as S is super duper happy and you are too, the noise others may be making can be ignored, hai na?
    Vins recently posted…Smriti {Part 3}My Profile

    1. Yes you are rambling :p Yes, all the other things that do not affect S and me are happily ignored these days.

  8. I don’t know much about parenting, but I can say that the last line of your post is exactly what every kid needs. We need someone strong, to be our foundation as we go forth in our ventures in daily life. We need to be disciplined, looked after, and above all, loved. And if we have that, we have everything in the world! 🙂

    1. Oh wow! Mithila lovely to hear that I am on the right track, especially since this comes from the other side of the fence, from the perspective of the kids. Thanks fore reading 🙂

  9. Loved this piece to bits. Sometimes and many a times I feel – isn’t it normal to be a single parent? What matters is the love and affection the child gets, does it really matter who bestows the affection or who showers the blessings? Does it just need to be the parents, that too both? I adore you for sharing your thoughts so bravely. S and you are both lucky to have each other 🙂 good luck 👍🏻
    Arpita recently posted…What you don’t know about Sweden – Two life’s lessonsMy Profile

    1. Thanks a ton Arpita. I agree how does it matter who is taking care of the child as long as the child is happy and identifies with the situation. Thanks for all the love.

  10. That’s an honest and hard hitting piece. And it totally makes sense. Burdening yourself with what other people expect you to be as a parent is useless. Also, at the end of your post, I think you meant ‘discipline’ and not ‘disciple’ 🙂

    1. Thank You Suman. It is senseless living life on anyone else’s terms and living up to anyone else’s expectations. Also typo corrected thanks.

  11. I like your thoughts and as an army wife I have been a single parent too for my kid for a couple of years – it is tough and needs a fine balance. I think you have found it and I loved your post . More power to you, Jaibala.

    Ps- on a side note the font of your site is a bit small I had to read it by zooming it on my 16inch laptop screen. Could you increase the size?
    Inderpreet Kaur Uppal recently posted…What you don’t know #BarAThon Challenge @blogarhythm1My Profile

    1. Thank You so much Inderpreet, it does need a very fine balance dealing with. I will check and figure out what to do about the font size.

  12. Such a beautiful honest post! S is lucky to have such a strong beautiful mother. God bless you both!
    Aditi recently posted…Feeling UnsureMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much for your wishes Aditi 🙂

  13. I loved how you said single parents are still parents and with those thoughts as you wrote, I’m sure you are doing your best each day like any parent would do. Hats off to you for being so honest.
    Parul recently posted…Interview, biases and a wrong hireMy Profile

    1. Parul, that is the ultimate truth that most people forget. Thank You so much for reading 🙂

  14. Bravo! Your honesty shines all through this post.

    1. Thank You so much Hema for reading. Welcome to the blog.

  15. After reading your posts and all the comments, I have nothing more to add to your praise.
    Just want to say a big THANK YOU for writing this post.
    Will share it.

    1. Oh Wow! This is so humbling. Thank You so much for reading. A warm welcome to my space.

  16. I haven’t read such a honest post in a while. God Bless you and the lil one.

    1. Thank You so much Nisha 🙂

  17. You did an awesome job of addressing a delicate subject. People are quick to judge and give advice. I have the utmost respect for single moms and never thought about parenting from this perspective. Will share it

    1. Thank You so much Carol for reading and sharing 🙂

  18. I have close friends who are raised by a single mother. And Jai,I have seen how the family is. It isn’t easy but it isn’t unhappy either. This post is so heart warming and straight from heart. I am glad you wrote the post and stand up as a good single parent

    1. As you say, real experiences are not what they are made out to be in media and the like. I just wanted to write what is real. Thank You so Much Ramya.

  19. This one was straight from heart Jai and it’s beautiful! People always judge. They will always judge. Had you been with a partner, they’d judge something on that. They judge all the time! And our job is to ignore them all the time 😛
    Jokes apart, parenting is parenting and every mother would give the best to the child in every way possible!
    And so will you!
    Here’s more power to you 🙂

    Geets recently posted…What you don’t knowMy Profile

    1. Haha Geetika.True people will be people and it is not our job to change them. But it isn’t our job to toe the line and and sit in their box either. This was about breaking those barriers. Thank You so much, and more power to every parent who is just doing the best they can.

  20. People really make a mountain of things that are meant to be practically dealt with. Sometimes I feel our very own Bolloywood movies too bears on our thinking, our ideologies – “how things should be”, “how a woman’s life should be”. Every aspect our life is incomplete without the existence of a “man”. Your write up truly brings up a very valid point – parenting is not incomplete if its by a single parent-it is what it is.
    Manmita gupta recently posted…A New Mommy’s Survival GuideMy Profile

    1. Yes they do, making a mountain out of a mole hill is a profession most of us would be good at. I do agree that movies contribute to this ideology a lot. Thank You Manmita for reading, and a warm welcome to my space.

  21. A lovely true-to-yourself post that is very much needed. Even before typing this, the first thing I did was share it with two friends who are also single mothers. And their replies are exactly what you need to hear – they wish they were as courageous and honest as you.
    They keep the insecurities in and struggle with the masks that society forces upon them. Your post is like a ray of sunshine for them.
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…You never know where your journey in life will take you…My Profile

    1. Okay, I will wipe away the tears before I type this. Doc you just made my day and yes those replies were exactly what I needed to hear. This is why I wrote this, this is why it matters so much to me. The false aspiration and ideals that the society builds is so hard to live up to. Thank You so much Doc.

  22. You know, I am so thankful for writing this post. Having grown as the son of a single mother too, I could very well relate to it. Much as we say single parenting, I think it is important for the child not to have hatred for either of the parents. Yes, knowing your style of parenting, I am convinced that S is in safe hands. Thank you for putting it what I wanted to say!

    1. Like I said before you and the conversations that we had were on my mind when I wrote this. In fact I started writing this almost immediately after out chat.Glad that you thought it voiced your opinion too. Thank You so much Akshay 🙂

  23. Nicely written Jaibala. Its an eye opener for all single parents and wishing you all success and happiness. I am sure your son will grow up to a nice gentleman with all right values in place

    1. It was meant to challenge stereotypes. Thank You so much for your best wishes..

  24. You unloaded your heart and Its great. Our society is full of extremes and start judging even if they don’t know them personally. Its not a battle to win. Its Parenting and you have put up so gracefully.

    1. Yes exactly it is not a battle, and I don’t have to choose a side. It is parenting and needs to be left up to the parent and the child. Thank You for reading

  25. Thank you for such an honest post. As a society, we chart out a standardised course for everyone to follow and anything off the beaten track is met with either pity or criticism because we have not learned to empathise. You come across as a balanced and positive person and I’m sure you’ll do well.
    Uma recently posted…Missed chancesMy Profile

    1. We do have ideas and set behavior patterns as a society that we expect people to follow, which is such a wrong way to deal with things. Thank You so much for reading Uma.

  26. Firstly, hats off to you Jai for having the courage to stand up for something you believe in and writing such a soulful post. S is lucky to have such a strong mother. One would do well to pay the pseudo society two hoots for all the concern they seem to show. Cheers, proud of you my gal!
    Kala Ravi recently posted…What you don’t know #BarAThonMy Profile

    1. I had been thinking about this for a while now. I was just waiting a while to be objective enough to write this. Thank you so much Kala for being there 🙂

  27. What a lovely post, Jai. It dispels myths and shares the reality and the struggles honestly. We all walk around with so many preconceived notions and l am sure glad that you’ve just hit them out of the park. I feel very proud of you and of your parents as well for raising you this way. Having met S l can see what a happy child he is! After all as patent that is all we try to do is to do our best.
    Rachna Parmar recently posted…My Cherished Charm #CherishedBlogfestMy Profile

    1. Rachna I agree it is because of my parents I am who I am, and I am able to be the parent that S needs too. These preconceived ideas had been niggling me for some time now. I just thought, let me put what I feel in words. Thank You so much for all the love and Support. 🙂

  28. Whether you are a single parent or not the trick to sensible parenting is to be you, or maybe the best version of you that you can possibly be. What people say or tell us never works. What worked for my mum doesn’t work for me. In fact my most sensible mum turns into this weird critical version when she sees me handling the kids!! I completely love how you write about S and you – open, accepting and completely heartfelt. Those are the qualities that S will pick up from you and learn to value.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…Quirky writing habits of famous authorsMy Profile

    1. Haha Tulika, It is the same story with me and my mom. But yes Parenting is always between you and your child, nothing else matters. Thank You so much, this means the world 🙂

  29. Wow Jai, this was so heartfelt.

    Being a parent is all about that, being a parent. A single mother or a single father shouldn’t matter as long as you are getting the parenting right.

    I’m proud of you for being a strong woman (not mother) and that’s what always comes first. I’m sure your son should be proud of being brought up in the hands of such a woman.

    More power and love to you.
    Soumya recently posted…Stranger Than FictionMy Profile

    1. Such a simple thing is always misconstrued and misrepresented. It is and will always remain about parenting. Thank You so much. Lots of love to you too <3

  30. Loved loved this post Jai. As a single parent myself, I could identify with almost every point you have written. Singledom is neither a crown nor an object of pity. It exists like everything else-teaching both parents and children lessons in growing up. <3

    1. I remember the process of writing this post began with a discussion we had several months back. Yes Single Parenting is a learning just like anything else.

  31. :’) beautiful message to all the single moms .
    Blessed is your son, whose mamma loves him this much and takes care the most.
    Dixita recently posted…Hill Station Reader #BlogMarathon Day 9 My Profile

    1. Thank You Dixita for the heartfelt best wishes 🙂

  32. Thats a lovely post Jaibala straight from the heart. Forms and processes need to change, not you or your son. Kudos for bringing up the child in a positive environment.

    1. Oh, Lata I could do another post on forms and processes, especially getting a passport. Thank You so much. A lot of the credit also goes to my family 🙂

  33. What a heartfelt and truly inspirational post that tells it like it is without exalting or self-patronizing the honesty of feelings you experience. I hope this post reaches a lot of people, especially those inhabiting conservative spaces of the 20th century or earlier. Kudos, Jaibala.

    1. Welcome Suchitra to my blog. Thank you so much for the comment and your wishes.

  34. I second Sid. This was very well written and straight from the heart. There’s a certain nuanced emotion that filters through the writing and it shows in the way you talk about S and the whole parenting experience. I cannot claim to know what that feels like entirely although I do single parent during the week but my circumstances are not like yours. Hats off to your parenting.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…What you don’t know #BarAThon #FlashFictionMy Profile

    1. Shailaja you are one of my parenting inspirations, so this comment means so much. I don’t know what else to say except <3

  35. All we can do is this as a single parent or one of two parents. Being one of two I still drive myself and everyone up the wall trying to be too much trying to do too much off and on and then there are imes when I just AM. Great post Jaibala.
    Sunila Vig recently posted…What You Do Not Know – tiny story contd. Day #2 # Bar-A-ThonMy Profile

    1. Thank You Sunila, that is exactly my point. We can just try our best, the rest is not in our control. And it is like that for every parent.

  36. HI Jaibala Good Morning. Superb. Single Parenting is such a debatable issue and many play it as a victim card. And you have written it all so subtly , totally neutrally that the readers can relate to this, at so many levels , point-wise. My nephew has his biological mom and dad and I still think of myself as his parent.

    1. Sujata Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. It is a very debatable issue, and I think it is often misrepresented. I am sure your nephew feels so loved.

  37. I don’t think I need to say anymore about this post than to give you a standing ovation for writing such a heartfelt one.
    Having seen your parenting up close, I know S is in good hands and you will do well 🙂
    Good to see you stand up proudly as a single parent.

    1. You know I have been carrying around this post for months now, so it really feels good to finally say it. Thank You Sid 🙂

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