Why Mitt Can’t Blame Us Single Parents for Gun ViolencePosted: 10/17/2012 8:35 am
I was annoyed during most of last night’s presidential debate, but when Mitt Romney insinuated that single-parent families are to blame for gun violence in America, my blood pressure shot through the roof.I’m a single mother. A proud one. And Romney’s remarks are ignorant, insulting and based on stereotypes that degrade the hard work single parents do every day.
When a member of the audience at Tuesday night’s debate asked what each candidate would do to keep assault weapons off the streets, Romney launched a baseless diatribe about making sure we have more two-parent families in this country, therefore equating gun violence with single parenthood.
May I remind him that the shooter in the assault on Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the alleged shooter in the Colorado movie theater attack were both single men with no children? Can I point out that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the boys who massacred their classmates at Columbine High School in 1999, had parents who were married? Can anyone show me one instance of a single mother caught packing an AK-47 in her diaper bag?
This is not the first time we’ve heard a Republican candidate for president blaming solo parents for society’s ills. Last March, it was Rick Santorum, who said on the record that single mothers were ruining the fabric of our country by “breeding more criminals.”
Well, my little “criminal” just turned six-years-old. Her name is Angie, and she’s learning how to count money and tell time. She was student of the month at her school and the top reader in the library’s summer reading program. She’s becoming a pretty good soccer player, too. Last week, she scored two goals in one game.
I’ve been a single mother to her since she was two-years-old — not because I had her before I was married but because her father, after twelve years of marriage, decided he was in love with someone else and wanted a divorce. It happens. Life goes on.
Things get pretty hectic around our house, but Angie and I still find time to bake, read and do crafts together. That’s what single parents do. We don’t plot ways to break the law or riot in the streets with our pistols and semi-automatics (as a matter of fact, I had to Google “types of guns” just to write this). No, what we do is get our children off to school on time. We help them with their homework. We go to our jobs and our night classes, to our kids’ parent-teacher conferences and band practices. And we watch presidential debates so we’ll know who to vote for, who will have our best interests in mind.
I’m sick of the cliche that single parents, especially mothers, are lazy, society-sucking welfare cases, and that their children are growing up to be delinquents. The truth is 79 percent of single mothers and 92 percent of single fathers have jobs. Many live off low incomes, but most receive no public assistance. More than half are raising only one child. The majority of us are responsible people, and we are raising our children to be responsible, to be kind, to value education and pursue their talents. To assume otherwise is to feed the stereotype, to perpetuate the myth.
Ask President Obama. His own mother was a single mom, and she raised him to become president.
Perhaps Romney apologized for his ridiculous comments regarding single parents and gun violence in his closing remarks last night. I missed the tail end of the debate, after all. I had to turn off the television and put my daughter to bed — because that’s what real single parents do.
Lone Parents are the Role Models we NeedPosted: 17/08/11 01:00
The events of the last week shocked us all. We have seen violence on our streets beyond anything that we could have imagined just a few weeks ago. Now that the rioting and looting has subsided and those involved are appearing in court, everyone’s attention has rightly turned to the causes and, with many of the perpetrators being so young, attention has turned to the parents.As has happened in past debates on seemingly failed parenting, especially in deprived areas, lone parents have been brought into the centre of the discussion. And again, as has happened in the past, lone parents have been seen by some as representing our slide into a country more like A Clockwork Orange than the England we’re used to.
This characterisation of lone parents as unable or unwilling to stop their children turning into the type of person we all saw steal from Ashraf Haziq, the injured Malaysian student, repeatedly attack police officers and destroy their own community does not sit well with my personal experience.
I work in the area with the highest proportion of lone parents in the country, North Liverpool, where in some areas more than 1 in 6 of households with children are run by a lone parent. In my experience lone parents are some the most responsible people we have in our communities. In my experience they are often the type of people who hold together a community, not destroy it.
Across the country, the programme I work for, Your Horizons, brings together four charities – Citizens Advice, Family Action, Gingerbread and One Parent Families Scotland – working together to offer a range of free support on money matters, grants for education and training costs and advice on preparing for work. The lone parents we work with are very active in this process and so my job is really enabling them to do what they already want to and fulfill their potential. It’s because of their desire to better their own lives that since 2005 our project has been sponsored by Barclaycard and helped over 460,000 lone parents and their children.
At the moment we’re allocating educational grants to parents struggling to complete their studies and the stories of those previously helped are representative of the types of positive story we hear every day. We’ve had people get grants to become beauticians, accountants and even a funeral director. One of the best stories came from a mum called Samantha, her children were old enough that she wanted to start working again but she still needed to be available if they needed her. Samantha’s idea was to become a black cab driver. We helped her do The Knowledge course and now she’s able to support her children and work the most convenient hours. Some of these might sound funny but they all show single mums and dads coming up with innovative solutions to the problems they face.
What worries me is not the coverage of those lone parents whose children ran wild last week – the press has to cover things that matter to the nation – but that a small minority of lone parents were able to tarnish the reputation of the majority. Instead, I want to take a moment to recognise the fantastic job lone parents do. The example they set is an inspiration to me everyday and should be an inspiration to society too.
If anything we need more of the qualities I see in lone parents: responsibility, care, respect and a work ethic second to none.