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Raf is raising money for Gingerbread through a sponsored skydive. Raised by a single parent and with a single parent sister, he talks about his experiences with single parenting and why the cause is so close to his heart. You can support his fundraiser here.
There is a continuing stigma for the children of single parents. Many used to think that divorce could be the root cause of psychological issues for children. Thankfully, this attitude is slowly changing, but these lasting ideas can impact single parents and their children every day.
These attitudes can also show how complex the topic of single parenting really is. The first thing that catches your attention is surely the phrase “psychological issues”. Divorce can be a traumatic time for children, we don’t even seem to question that. But right after that you start to wonder… the stigma that it is the “root cause of trauma” in a child’s life is unfair. It is so difficult decide what has the biggest, key impact on any child.
I often wonder what moments have the biggest impact on children. Thinking of all the ways children can be changed is a dizzying prospect. For me, and many others in society, this is just a thought experiment. One we can jump out of at any moment. But for many kids, who are barely starting to develop their understanding of this world, it is reality.
Home… something that used to be their world, can be changed so quickly. Maybe they never had home like other kids their age in the first place. The difficulties, stigma and hardships, unfairly thrown at those younglings and their parents are just heartbreaking. How can any parent ever find a satisfying answer to their kid asking ‘why is daddy or mummy not with us?’ As someone who has not been through that situation, I don’t know.
I often think of these things because I have experienced single parenting from many angles. The first time was when my parents divorced after years of terrible fights, shortly after I turned 12 years old. It was the end of summer and I was just changing schools. Not the best time. But is there ever a good time for a divorce? I just remember how confused I was. All parents argue, but why can’t my parents just stay together and argue like all the other parents? I didn’t know then that other parents didn’t argue. Well at least not so often. Not like that. Not till morning, when the whole house literally was shaking from furiously slammed doors between rooms. When I had to comfort my younger crying sister time after time it was just another uneasy night after another, but nothing with long-lasting trauma for us, I thought.
Only when I got older I understood that such behaviour is not exactly a standard family model. But more traumatic to me at that time was what happened after. Even though everyone was very kind I quickly started pushing people away and causing troubles. A couple of times during the times of high school and shared custody I ended up in rehab. Now I am okay with my past and have a better understanding of what happened, but I do think it is extremely important that others have resources and understanding to better cope with similar experiences.
Another reason why single parenting is so close to my heart is because my younger sister is a single parent to her son. Her story is not for me to tell, all I can say is that her life is full of happiness, just as it is full of strength, sacrifice and determination. She is the strongest woman I have ever known, and could be an example for many women around the world who look for inspiration. If there would be more people like her in this world, we would have a true altruistic society, because before she ever thinks of herself she makes sure everyone around her is satisfied and happy. I wish, for her and many other raising kids alone, a better life.
This is why I am fundraising for Gingerbread. They are able to help in so many difficult situations that I can only begin to imagine.
Support Gingerbread and Raf’s skydive here.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can support fundraise for Gingerbread, click here.