The Demonisation of Lone Parents
Mrs Thatcher said: “It is far better to put these children in the hands of a very good religious organisation, and the mother as well, so that they will be brought up with family values.”
She told an audience in the Commonwealth Convention Centre in Louisville the spread of illegitimacy “devalues our values, our community”.
She said governments had made things worse by providing social security benefits for single mothers.
That is the opinion of Margaret Thatcher back in October 1998. But wait, there’s more:
Shadow Social Security Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the party’s 1998 conference the Tories wanted to “strengthen the institution of the family”.
The “misguided” ideology of the 1960s “crusade” to free women from marriage “has freed men from marriage, and from responsibility”, he declared.
“It has also taught that children represented just another lifestyle choice.
“This is wrong. Marriage matters, and children are not just a lifestyle choice, but a lifelong obligation.”
The above comment by Iain Duncan Smith more than suggests that he thinks single parents make a conscious decision to have babies out of relationships/marriage and that they are some kind of accessory! The cheek of the man!
His views haven’t changed:
This is what IDS truely believes every single parent is like, especially, it seems, single mothers. It tells the story of the children of heroin addicts, housing estates full of fatherless children, children going into care because their single mothers can’t cope (does he have actual figures for this?), multiple generations in the same family being single parents with several children to several men and those mothers sticking their children in front of the tv because they have no idea reading books is important. Girls being promiscuous looking for a father figures, boys idolising drug dealers. Give me a break!
He paints the picture that we are ALL like that. I’ll have him know that the majority of us single parents do a fine job bringing up our children, and some of us even have the support of the absent parent. My ex partner is a wonderful father and all 3 kids adore him, our relationship just hasnt worked out the way we wish it had. We are still best friends though and our children are alot happier now. Far from erasing him from their lives, he spends every spare minute with them. So, IDS got that generalisation wrong. I am not alone in this situation.
More recently he has stated that children from “broken homes” are nine times more likely to become criminals. I’m sorry? My 12 year old would surely have become a disturbed young girl if I had done what he suggests and stayed married. Growing up in a violent, abusive household is a recipe for such things, yet I am being demonised for escaping that life. If me and my ex partner hadn’t made the decision to live seperately she, and her younger siblings would have witnessed daily hostility, although not violent, and would not have thrived the way they are now. Even my health visitor said she was amazed and extremely pleased by how calm they were since we split up, and how well I was coping. Little me coping with 3 children, two of which are under 3 years old.
I won’t pretend that it’s a walk in the park. My daily routine is rigid. On a school day we are all up at 7.30am. I have to get 2 toddlers and a 12 year old out of bed and down the stairs, then make sure they’re fed, nappies are changed and everyone is dressed. The it’s the school run to get my oldest to school before 8.40am. Then home to do my housework, split fights up between the two youngest and play with them (which includes reading books!). They both usually have a nap between 1pm and 3pm, then it’s a rush to get to school for 3.25pm to pick the oldest up, which usually invloves waking two toddlers up who do not appreciate the interruption. It will probably disappoint IDS that we all sit at the dining table to eat in the evening, like civilised people. My children have a good diet of meat, vegetables, fruit and the occassional sweet treat. It may also disappoint him to discover that all 3 children have a set bedtime routine and go to bed at 7pm (toddlers) and 9.30pm (12yr old), every night, without fail.
The biggest disappointment yet for IDS, the man who believes that he knows how we all live and defines us all by his warped stereotype, is that I do not drink alcohol (I have a full bottle of vodka that hasn’t been touched for 2 years), I do not take drugs, I do not party, I do not have streams of male visitors. The only visitors I have are my ex partner, my family and my best friend who I have known since I was about 8 years old. There are no expensive flat screen TVs in my house, no iPads, no iPhones, I do not own a stereo or a DVD player, no desinger clothes and I have no HP items at all. The only brand new items I have are my childrens beds. I have lived this way for a long time because I learned hard lessons years ago. When you live beyond your means you find yourself in hot water. I dont like hot water.
David Cameron, depsite all his statements to the contrary recently, is not whiter than white when it comes to lone parents. In September of 2007 (I was working full time then), he told the Tory Party conference that he wanted to adopt the Wisconsin style of welfare. That won’t mean anything to most people, it scares the hell out of me!
In the Wisconsin style of welfare you are assigned a job, any job, they don’t care if it is practical, flexible, or is in any way going to enhance the life of you or your children. You have to turn up to this job, everyday, without fail. Having children does not expemt you unless one of them is under 3 months old. If you don’t turn up they dock $5.15 from your welfare. If you refuse to go they cut your benefit off completely! That’s not all. There is a time limit, for life, of how long you can recieve benefits. 2 years is the maximum, throughout your whole life. Once your time is up, that’s it, you get nothing. You and your children are on your own!
The system is designed to punish single parents, the so called reason for the downfall of society. We are undermining marriage, basically being downright bad people because we are raising children without a man in the house. David Cameron said in 2007 that this was what he wanted for our country. Really? With all the bad press we have been getting since he became prime minister I suspect that he will get his wish before long. Slowly but surely they are lowering the time limit for us getting Income Support. When I had my 1st child we were entitled to it till they were 16. I didnt step into a DSS office for years, I had no reason to, no interviews with an employment advisor, no queries with my payments. I was left in peace to bring up my daughter.
When she was 6 they invited me to a “Work Focused Interview”. I never attended because 2 weeks before the appointment I started a full time job, off my own back. They were still ringing me the day of the interview because they hadn’t updated their computers. These interviews are supposed to be for lone parents of children over 12 months old. They regularly call women in who have very young babies and quiz them about why they aren’t looking for work, heavily pregnant women are called in too, waddling into the job centre to be demoralised by someone who has no idea how hard it is in alot of cases.
Back to the point. In 2008 they reduced the limit for entitlement for Income Support. People with children aged 12 and above were required to sign on instead of claim Income Support. That didn’t seem unreasonable. By the time my children are 12 I will have, hopefully, been working full time for many years. The current government have reduced that again to the age of 7. If you have a child aged 7 or above you must sign on and be available for work at all times. Still, that’s not so bad in the great scheme of things, at least the kids are settled into school. They have kept it reasonably quiet, but next year, if you have a child aged 5 or above you will be required to sign on and look for work. The unemployment rates will tip the scales! Silly Tories. That’s not the end of it, oh no. When their Universal Credit crack pot idea comes into force every parent who has a child between 1yr and 5yrs will be required to get themselves ready to go back to work. They are extremely vaigue as to what that actually means but I suspect it will involve more regular “Work Focused Interviews”, more demoralisation and more demonisation. How many times do I have to explain to someone that my childcare would be £450.00 a week and no job can cover the difference? Also that there are no suitable jobs at the moment. I cannot get childcare at 5am or 9pm, it just doesnt exist for 2 toddlers. (my 12yr old can quite legally stay home alone as long as its not overnight). Anyway, Tax Credits will be abolished in a few years so we won’t benefit from them when I go back to work. Their Universal Credit is just the old benefits system with some silly new name and new nasty sanctions attached, the most severe being denial of benefits for 3 years!
So, there you have it. With the help of the media that support their views, and many people who believe what they read and see paraded in front of them through their television screens, lone parents, especially single mothers, are being attacked by the Tories once again. Margaret Thatcher started it, Cameron and his friends are finishing it off, this time on a much grander scale. I did not want to be a single parent, it was not a “lifestyle choice”, my children are not little accessories that I parade around like handbags. Contrary to news reports and propoganda, we are not, on the whole, benefit cheats. I live by the rules, as do millions of others. Yet the Tory party are hell bent on portraying us as lazy, worthless, vindictive, irresponsible and men hating party girls. Don’t believe the hype, we work harder than they have in their entired lives!