Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Single Mum On Benefits

A title like that would have certain parts of the press foaming rabidly at the mouth in delighted rage. A title that sweeps a large section of society together so the rest of the people can form an orderly line to stick the boot in too.

I'm not going to provide a link to the odious article, 'tis what Google was made for. I would love to know who it is that they use as the guideline to judge the rest of us though because she must be really well off.

The majority of single mums, sorry I am going to say single parents as it isn't just the mums y'know, are not simply sitting back and racking in a fortune in benefits. Most of us have never been on benefits before and are using them in the way the are supposed to be used. As a step up, as a helping hand during bad times. Not as a career choice. Not to wickedly take money from tax-payers.

Certainly there is a minority, the kind of people who have parents and grandparents on benefits, who have children outwith a stable relationship and who have no intention of changing the status quo. They are indeed a minority, though the lazy journos who like to write sensationalist bullying stories wouldn't care to point that out.

Instead we are all thrown together. In one big heap. Signed off as useless.

Single parents, of the type I refer to - on benefits now but not forever - are dealing with a lot more than the meeja care to understand. We deal with the effects of broken relationships, we try and steer our children through the mess, we cope with feelings of failure at not making a marriage on long-term relationship work and yes, we feel guilt and humiliation at having to ask the state for help. If they think it is easy they should attempt to comfort a 6-year-old child, or two, crying at night or asking for a new daddy in a way that would break a heart of stone. And during all this we have to read pathetic headlines that the big bad single parents are so much better off than the nice working families.

Guess what, I know plenty of families on benefits. Plenty of two parent families where at least one parent could work. Funny how you never hear of them. Or of the large amount of 18-25 year olds who leave school and can't see the point of getting a job which I think is a scarier and more interesting prospect for a story. I suppose though, it is better to wait until one of that group pops out a baby and joins the already formed pariahs of society.

Easy targets. We have them.

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