Single parenthood – Fashion of our times or a problem going into the future?

Wed, 7 Oct 2015 Source: Vicky Wireko

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Parenting, no doubt, is a God-assigned responsibility too heavy to be left to only one person to carry for 18 years or beyond.

That is why in His wisdom, God gave each human being two parents to provide the complementary roles of parenting. The ideal norm is for both parents to give their uttermost to the growing child so that together they would prepare him or her for responsible adulthood.

Unfortunately, what do we see today? Single parenthood has made mockery of this God-assigned role.

Child conventions

It is also not by chance that appropriate bilateral conventions recognise age 18 as the outset of adulthood, a period when the individual may be considered in some decision making. It is all to say that below 18 years, one would need parental guidance in life. Interestingly, constitutions of some sovereign states also take into account the fact that any age below 18 years is regarded as a dependant.

However, we seem to have defied all conventions, whether godly, local, bilateral or multilateral and neglected the joint care expected from both parents to their children. So I ask : why is it that we seem to have too many children being raised by single parents these days? By single parent I am referring to either mother or father left solely to take care of the children.


My question is based on an observation I made a couple of weeks ago, sitting as part of an interview panel. The interview selection was to award senior high school scholarships to 50 brilliant needy children across Ghana. Brilliant as they were, most of the children were able to make it to the final stage despite their home challenges.

At a point during the interview, I started to make my own assessment based on the number of candidates that were indicating that they were from single parent homes.

The organisers had done enough background searches to confirm the family status of the candidates. Regrettably, out of every eight children that we interviewed, six of them had never seen a father figure in their lives. They and their siblings were being looked after by their mothers.

Some of them were even engaged in odd jobs such as truck pushing after school or on weekends to support their mothers. Out of the entire lot, only two boys said they lived with their father and stepmothers. One of them had never set eyes on his biological mother. The rest were living with both parents and invariably, one parent was not working.

The above sampling of students from all over the country could easily be used as a base for any research work into the issue of single parenting in this country.

The advert for the scholarship award was run for weeks on local FM radio stations across the country so there were students coming from as far away as the three northern countries.

Though majority of the children from single parent homes came with their mothers, some said their mothers had to be up early to go to the market to sell and so they had to come alone or with an older sibling.

Societal problem

As I left the interview that day, the two questions that remained heavy on my mind were whether single parenthood was becoming a societal issue that needs to be fixed or whether it is one of those modern day fashionable practices. Fashionable because someone recently reminded me that it is common these days to see a man and a woman living together like any married couple and call it co-habitation. Meanwhile, they would probably not go through any marriage rites. There seems to be too much gambling in family relationships these days.

A co-panellist at the interview confirmed to me the reality of single parenthood in our system. I had no reason to doubt the stuff from a professional teacher, an educationist and a pastor who has dealt with different congregations across the country.

For the sake of raising responsible future generations for this country, it is time for any parent to come to the reality and know that to neglect one’s parental responsibilities is a sign of complete failure in their lives.

Parental responsibilities should under no circumstance be left to only one parent.

The sacrifice should be a shared one otherwise it may come back to haunt not only the parent who neglects his or her God-assigned duties but the country as well.

Writer's Email: vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com

Columnist: Vicky Wireko