Raised by a single mum, I turned out fine
Dennis Murimi Mburu and his siblings found themselves in a single-parent family by fate. His father passed away when he was only eight years old leaving their mother as the sole breadwinner. Being that their mother was a casual labourer, this meant that meeting the family’s basic needs was no easy task.
Without a partner to share the load of raising children, parenting can be hard. Single parent’s problems include having to adapt to a drop in income, a changed lifestyle, and even a moving from what one knew as home or even neighbourhood. Single parenting requires a single parent to combine the roles of two people; raising the children and running the house.
If you’re a single parent, one may have to juggle work and children. Without the support of a partner, many big decisions in a child’s life are left up to the single mother to make. This can feel incredibly intimidating and cause plenty of stress.
“Most of the time, we lacked school fees and good clothing — we lacked most of the basic essentials, but what kept us moving is the love mother had towards us,” the fifth born in a family of six narrated
After completing his Form Four, he joined campus to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Project Management. He would later on discontinue due to lack of school fees. Fortunately he managed to secure a job where he is currently attached.
Children raised by single mothers face all types of stereotypes. They are said to lack discipline. Research has shown that these children are more likely to face emotional and behavioural health challenges — such as aggression or engaging in high-risk behaviours — when compared to peers raised by married parents. Another possibility is that these children face more instability in family structure and that this instability results in worse outcomes for the child.
Mother’s love that moves mountains
However, Dennis believes that it is entirely possible for a single parent to raise a successful child. “It is never easy and it’s always full of struggles, but its possible to raise successful children. Watching my mother raise us has made me believe that it can be done if they only have a positive outlook, have emotional support, set clear expectations and also have defined structures for your children,” he continues.
Dennis admits that children raised by single parents can sometimes feel frightened, stressed and frustrated by the difference that they see between themselves and their friends. They are also prone to alcohol or drug abuse, psychiatric illnesses as well as suicide attempts. However, when the single parent sets clear rules that limit behaviour, are warm, sensitive, responsive and flexible, it assists the children to become secure.
All young people — including those in single-parent families — flourish when they have caring, committed relationships with existing parents or other loving caregivers. The importance of safe, stable homes, communities and families that have adequate socio-economic resources, social supports and services is key
“My mother always assured us of her love and support. She did all she could for us. She ensured we pursued an education and she did all she could to ensure we went to school,” he explains.
While single mothers are advised to look for male models, preferably uncles and relatives, especially when boys approach puberty, Dennis says lack of such a person in his life didn’t deter him from growing up upright. “I feel that the role of having a role model is often exaggerated. You don’t require to copy someone that much. I was tried to be the best version of myself as I could. I believe that the man who stands in front of the mirror is the best model they can be for themselves. I had to make informed decisions not just my own, but for the betterment of the family. I have friends who are my role models and have assisted me learn more about business, education as well as lifestyle,” he adds.
He appreciates his mother for all the sacrifices that he has made for him. This is what, he says, has assisted him get to where he is in life. In addition, he has always learnt to respect all women based on what he has watched his mother go through.
“It would have been better if she had another hand. While I currently don’t have a family yet, but as long as I live, I will never let my son or daughter go without a father and ensure whatever I lacked is available to them,” says Dennis.
Emotionally healthy men
Having gone through the experience of lacking a father, Dennis advises single mothers to ensure that their children are well taken care of emotionally. They should let their children seek their own heroes and role models as that will assist them in having sound judgment and discernment. Whether or not you have a man around to show him the ropes, your son can grow up to be an emotionally healthy male just as many boys of single mothers have already done.
“Most boys engage in drug abuse since they lack someone to question them. Mothers should know their opinions in their children’s matter,” he explains.
Dennis also urges mothers never to shy away from discussing the challenges they face in their lives. They should also make the most of everyday moments and give their children attention.