I’ve always called myself a single mother – hence the name of this blog.
But just recently I’ve been intrigued by the different terms there are out there for people like me. As far as I can tell, there are three: a single parent; a lone parent; a double parent. There’s also the term co-parenting which I’ll include here purely because a lot of parents who are no longer part of a couple, fall into this catgory.
A Double Parent
As far as I know, this is a phrase coined by the website, The Double Parent. The writer of this blog argues that since her children’s father is nowhere to be seen, she is doing both jobs. She is playing the part of two parents, rather than one – and so she is a double parent. When I first came across this site, I completely understood what she meant. S’s father has not set eyes on her since she was 4 months old, and his maintenance contribution is negligible. I am her mother, but I also take care of all of the things other little girls might go to their father for. I never felt that I could use the term “double parent” for myself though, as the name is already taken by a rather popular blog!
A while ago I invited my readers to ask me questions, and one person asked me whether I thought there was a place for differentiation between “single” parents and “lone” parents. (I forget who it was; if you sent the question do please let me know so that I can credit you!). For me, the term “lone” parent is probably about the same as “double parent” – no days or weekends “off” being a parent while your child is with their other parent, no option of co-parenting, no contact with the other parent. You’re responsible for everything from putting clothes on their back to choosing their school, and you are the responsible adult in the room 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
This seems to be the option most of us use to describe ourselves! It’s something of a catch-all phrase, but if you accept the above two terms, a single parent would be someone who lives apart from their child’s other parent, but the other parent is actively involved in their life. Perhaps they have the child every other weekend, or for days out here and there. The relationship between the parents might be decidedly frosty, but the second parent is there, and takes part.
This is option number four, and for parents who have split up but take more equal roles in the child’s life. So rather than the option above, where the child lives with one parent and sees the other on weekends or days here and there, it’s closer to a 50/50 split of time between the parents. The child might have a bedroom in both homes, and the parents make a concerted effort to both be active parents. It takes a lot of work to do this successfully. Martyn from Inside Martyn’s Thoughts could be considered a co-parent, as for the most part he has his sons for 50% of the time.
What do you think? Which category do you fall into?
Do you think there’s a place for a distinction between single parents, lone parents and co-parents? Personally, I’m still undecided. On the one hand, it feels a lot like splitting hairs – but on the other hand, if terms like “double parent” or “lone parent” became known as these definitions, I would begin to tell people, “I’m a lone parent” – and it might keep people from assuming S’s father has anything to do with us.