A class two student was denied admission in a schoolin Vashi, simply because his mother was a single parent. In a video that is going viral on the Internet now, the school’s principal can be seen blatantly telling the single mother that admitting kids with single parents was problematic. She further insists that whenever she gives admission to a child, she demands that both the parentsbe present for the process. This incident yet again exposes how single parenting is still seen as a social anomaly in India. Amidst all the talks of modernisation, the society at large continues to find a single parent bothersome.

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • A child was denied admission in a Vashi school because his mother was a single parent.
  • This proves how single parenting is still seen as a social anomaly.
  • Single parents have to struggle with the emotional strain of providing care worth two.
  • Must they also have to deal with our prejudices?

This incident yet again exposes how single parenting is still seen as a social anomaly in India. Amidst all the talks of modernisation, the society at large continues to find a single parent bothersome.

The principal doesn’t explain what kind of problems the school faced in “handling” children of single parents. Was it the matter of timely payment of fee? Or the fact that the single parent in question was a woman? Or was she afraid that a child from such a family could be a “bad influence” on other children? The bias she holds exceptionally towards single parents is unjustifiable. Divorce, untimely death or long distance, there are numerous reasons why a person may have to parent her or his child single-handedly, what remains constant is the struggle to provide the love and care which surmounts for the absentee parentas well. Children from such homes need all the love and support that can be possibly provided, outside of their homes. It is the least we can do to ease the struggles of a single parent.

But alas, people like this school principal are too busy seeing the problems single status of a child’s parent may bring their way. Not just schools, the bias extends deep into our minds, as we tend to red flag anything, which challenges our definition of normality. I have met a lot of educated people who still think that a divorcee or separated parent (especially a mother) is a bad influence. God knows what all values she would impart to her child. Which means that a child of such a single mother automatically gets branded as a bad company.

Rejection of single parents is also our patriarchal society’s way to force them into remarrying, in order to fit into the social structure. Because if one single parent manages to bring up his or her child properly, wouldn’t it motivate others to do so?

Somewhere deep inside of us, we have this compulsion for quintessential Indian families, repeat with both the parents.  Rejection of single parents is also our patriarchal society’s way to force them into remarrying, in order to fit into the social structure. Because if one single parent manages to bring up his or her child properly, wouldn’t it motivate others to do so? What would happen to our decaying institute of matrimony then? Aren’t children the only glue, which hold many dead marriages together in our society? But in rejecting single parents, do we realise that it is their children end up bearing the cost? When you keep reminding children that the absence of a parent from their life is unnatural or abnormal, how can they have a happy childhood?

I hope many good schools in Vashi open their door for the said student and his mother. They deserve better than an institute, which fails to educate even its own staff. But outside of the school gates, there are many minds, which still carry biases against single parenting and even pass them on to others. While we can condemn the principal whose bias got exposed, what are we planning to do about the other? About the play ground mommies who pass snide remarks against a single mom, or morning walk buddies who question the masculinity of a single dad as he braids his daughter’s hair?

Beyond offering criticism let us also try to spark a conversation in our circles on single parenting. Speaking amongst each other is the only way we can rid our society of the stigma that deems single parenting problematic.

Picture Credit: peacequarters.com

Also Read: This Anthology Explores the Role of the ‘Other’ in Feminist Conversation

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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