Single Parents need Support

Our Single Parents Need Support!
Published on 28-11-2006

Every child has the right to be loved, wanted and nurtured to enable them grow into healthy, well-balanced New Zealanders with two parents who want the best for them.

But sadly this is not the case for many of our children. While many of New Zealand’s single parents are doing a great job raising their kids, there is a growing number of children in solo parent homes who are neglected, ignored and abused and who end up in a cycle of more of the same.

If we’re serious about turning the tide in this generation from the high rate of single-parent children being over-represented in abuse and criminal statistics, we need to start supporting their sole parent because a single, loving biological parent is clearly more preferable than being raised in CYPS homes.

I understand and empathise with the circumstances that lead parents (usually women) to be the sole carer, but many of them don’t realise the dangers they are putting their children in through their behaviour.

An overwhelming number of child abuse cases occur in families where the biological father is absent, where the mother’s numerous boyfriends come and go and where the family live on a welfare benefit. Statistically, most children who are abused or killed in our country are assaulted by a step-father, defacto husband or the mother’s boyfriend. There are many reasons why a woman continues to be in a relationship with an abusive man and ultimately it is her choice. But as long as she continues to expose her children to that normality, she is shaping their view of family life and modelling an example which all too often becomes a pattern that is followed into the next generation.

Our hearts go out to the thousands of children who are abused in their own homes on a regular basis every year, but when they become delinquent teens and prison inmates, we become angry and often intimidated.

Family breakdown and the long-term effect of welfare dependency is a cycle of hopelessness that most of us are concerned about, but lack a solution to.

We can start by supporting the women who are raising their children alone. New Zealand has the highest rate of births outside of marriage in the developed world (44% according to Statistics NZ, 2001) and notifications of neglect and abuse are skyrocketing. 60,000 for 2006!

We must empower women to be positive role models, to be there for their kids, valuing them and providing a nurturing environment with positive male role models.

We must offer practical options to women who find themselves pregnant and unable to provide a safe environment to raise their children. We need a co-ordinated approach to mentoring programmes, parenting courses, relationship counselling, skills training and financial assistance.

The breakdown of New Zealand families has lead to multitudes of father-less children changing the social structure of our nation and if we do not stop it we will continue down the dark path into a culture of hopelessness and violence and all that that entails.

It is time that we as New Zealanders face the reality of our daunting situation and overcome our conditioned response, which is so politically correct. We must stand up with courage to demand a child protective- family orientated community. One in which our own rights matter for less than those of our precious children.

Christine Rankinhi
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