Education and information are in my opinion the two most powerful tools we need to survive these days. Put both of these key ingredients together in a mixing bowl and we are creating a recipe for prevention. But I wonder if for some reason we don’t want to give people this power. All around me I watch all parents (single, married, same sex couples etc) struggle in a world that has become busy, demanding and completely exhausting at times. There are extra bills and extra pressures that simply didn’t exist before.
Life has changed but we most certainly have not changed with it. Our support structures within our own family units have changed and quite often parents are isolated. As the old African proverb teaches us “it takes a village to raise a child”, but our communities are simply not what they used to be. The community spirit where we all looked out for each other is difficult to come by. Most people today don’t even know their neighbours. These days we fear everything including our kid’s safety when they’re playing outside and indeed our own safety in our own homes at night.
We dream of a better future for our kids especially after the recession we have endured but in reality we are faced with fewer services, a severe lack of information and a chronic problem where our parents feel isolated and alone leading to so many problems including mental health issues. One of the biggest issues parents are facing in Ireland is a difficulty in finding childcare that suits us and that we can afford. More often that not its not even worth going back to work for some people as the cost of childcare is greater than your income and if you have more than one child this doubles. If you are a single parent this can be really tough and very stressful.
To help combat this it appears that our government amongst other brilliant plans are going to take the lone parent payment off all lone parents with children over the age of seven next July and switch them onto job seekers benefit. Sure isn’t that a great idea as all lone parents are just lazy idle individuals who have clearly no interest in working so this will give them a wake up call. Eh maybe a wake up call is needed for our government as the reason most lone parents can’t get back into the workplace is because of the high cost of childcare. Yet this is the key issue yet to be addressed by the government. I could go out and do a simple survey of 10 single parents and turn it into fancy statistics but I bet my summary would go something like this. I’m a single parent, I want to work and give my child a good life and if I’m given the appropriate support needed to get back into the workplace I have the potential to become very successful which in turn means the government and economy just might actually benefit from the minority of people like me.
I am most definitely blessed to have received a great education and I’m also blessed to have a great support structure of friends and family around me. Even with this support and education I needed lone parents allowance when I was living with my mum during the first year of James life to get back on my feet. I would not have been able to do it alone and I have fought for absolutely everything I have since then. When I lost my lone parents I struggled greatly and again was very lucky that my family helped me out and lent me the money I needed when I was building my career back up and also offered childcare for free and let me tell you if they hadn’t I would still be at home. I’m a fighter, always have been and believe it or not I’m a glass half full person but it has been incredibly hard at times. I have fought depression, continually fight stress like everyone else and yes sometimes I just cry but the most important thing in my life is the most beautiful smiling face of a little boy full of hope, smiling at me and that’s what drives me forward every. I rely very heavily on my friends for support right now but I know one day I will return the favour.
One thing I also know is that if I didn’t have the support I have I would never have been able to get back on my feet. There are many single parents out there like me who just need a chance and a hand to get back on their feet. Prevention and support are the two key areas that money needs to be pumped into, not cleaning up the mess after it happens.