In the past years we’ve seen all sorts of single parent families: headed by mothers, headed by fathers, headed by a grandparent raising their grandchildren.
There is recognition that individuals become single parents through a variety of reasons and this is why under the Philippines’ Republic Act 8972, Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, there are several situations when an individual is considered a single or solo parent.
(1) A woman who gives birth as a result of rape even without a final conviction of the offender: Provided, That the mother keeps and raises the child;
(2) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to death of spouse;
(3) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood while the spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one (1) year;
(4) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner;
(5) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one (1) year, as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
(6) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
(7) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to abandonment of spouse for at least one (1) year;
(8) Unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear her/his child/children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution;
(9) Any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child or children;
(10) Any family member who assumes the responsibility of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parent.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) estimates that the number of solo parents will reach 20 million this 2017. The DSWD also estimates that there are about 60 million Filipino kids raised by solo parents.
I was a solo parent for more than 20 years. It was both emotionally exhausting and financially formidable to provide love, care and financial support to my two sons. Solo parents need a strong support system to be able to manage their numerous responsibilities. Looking back, I wished I had a group of fellow single mothers that meet regularly so at least I didn’t feel as if I was going through the arduous journey alone. I would have wanted our regular get together to be a safe space to share our common concerns and discuss possible solutions to our parenting challenges.
Being able to connect with others who have firsthand experience with the kind of challenges that solo parents face can tremendously boost their courage and help them overcome problems ranging from finding a house help/nanny/kasambahay to making ends meet. Otherwise, it could feel like a very scary and isolating journey.
I would love to hear from you. If you are or have been a solo parent, it would be great to hear your stories of resilience. If you know a solo parent, it would be great to hear how you are supporting them.