Success and the Single-Parent Family (a featured question)

I came from a single parent home when single parent homes were frowned upon; the days before they became the norm.  In the spring of 1980 I went up to my teacher and, in a very matter-of-fact way, I told her, My daddy doesn’t live at home anymore

We were poor.  By today’s standards we lived below the poverty line.  But we had food to fill our bellies, a roof to shelter us from the English rain and clothes to protect our modesty. 

And we were happy.  We were loved.  We were instilled with a passion for learning and a pride for being well-behaved and respectful.  I may not have had as many toys as Rachel from the next street, but I did have an imagination and it was my imagination which held her in contempt.  I remember that, although I didn’t have a word for the feelings I had back then.

I am a success because of (not despite) my childhood and family circumstances.  I am not a success because I have a degree, a job, a mortgage, a loving husband, a longing to continue learning and a nice car.  I’m a success because I can find reasons to smile on a rainy day.  I’m a success because I can scrunch all the misery and pain into a little paper ball and file it away in the deepest, darkest corner of my mind.  I’m a success because I know how to keep my house clean and my bedroom dirty.  I’m a success because I have personal morals to adhere to and a desire to help people less fortunate than me.

But mostly I’m a success because I saw my Mumsy struggle to survive for my benefit.  I saw her express all the emotions one woman can (sometimes all in the same day) and I watched her cope.  I watched her live.  I was there with her when she came out the other side and realised she had raised four fabulous – successful – children with very little help (either physically or financially) from their father. 

I genuinely believe that if The Father had shown more than just an occasional passing interest in my up-bringing, I wouldn’t be the success I am today.  Or, perhaps because of his occasional passing interest I am the success I am today.  Who knows?

I do know that I am not an exception.  There are thousands of successful adults/children in the world who were raised in one-parent families, and they all have their own stories.  And if we lose everything tomorrow (which could happen; we live in interesting times, my friend) then I will still be a success, regardless of damp walls and Tesco Value foodstuffs. 

But then, perhaps my idea of success is skewed? 

please God bless Mumsy for helping me be a success xxx Elsabeth

this was a Featured Question; you can answer it to apparently.


  1. Wow—this makes me smile at the thought of my mom struggling to raise my sister & me on minimum wage, below the poverty line and a lot of the same things you wrote. Take care!Dessa

  2. Beautiful entry!   I wonder the same thing about how I would be if my father was still alive…or if my mother had married someone her age (not 10 years younger) who was more of a father figure for me?  I don’t think it’s always having a father around that makes children who they are – but a matter of the mother being able to encompass her children with enough love and gentle discipline to make up for that void in your life.  It sounds like your mother did an excellent job from that standpoint.  From then on, the rest has been up to you and you have done very well with the background you’ve been given.Your story just made me feel a lot better about the circumstances we are living in.  I hope one day my kids don’t resent us for living in near-poverty conditions, right now, and that one day, they will appreciate the love we gave them more than all the toys and nice clothes we can’t afford.

  3. See, I got into a selective girls’ school; did ‘A’ levels; went to university; did my Queen’s Guide award. None of it really registers with me. The greatest success I’ve had is getting married. It was one of the few things I managed to get right. Your definition of success isn’t skewed in the least.

  4. We grew up under some of the same circumstances and I believe that people who claim to be a victim of that sort of stuation growing up are just not moitvated.RYC: Yes, I am very naughty. Or as Lemmy would “I’m so bad baby, I don’t care.”

  5. i agree about the single parent thing. My mom was a single parent and I couldn’t be more proud of her for that. I think I am a better person for it…. :)by the way I joined facebook… whats your email again? Or you can look me up by the one Im using for that…that_girl_me@yahoo.comI never use that email for anything else though just for creating my myspace and facebook accounts. :)

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