Single parenting can be a lonely business

“Please wear your coat to school today,” I beg of my teen as I leave the house at eight this morning.

“Why?” she replies, a look on her face of genuine bemusement, tinged with disgust at the very notion of dressing sensibly.

I hesitate for a moment and the ridiculousness of this as a response. “Um… the sub-zero temperatures?” A solid argument I feel.

“Ergh,” not a very witty comeback, “but where am I supposed to put it?” she asks.

“The general idea is that you wear it,” I reply.

This kind of exchange is endlessly frustrating and demoralising. I really feel I am being quite reasonable in requesting that she doesn’t make the two mile round trip to school through icy winds in just a thin shirt and unbuttoned blazer, (it is apparently a complete faux pas to actually do it up), and yet I am made to feel like that most irritating of all mothers – a nag.

It is very tiresome to have to repeat this sort of conversation over and over, and it can often leave me feeling lonely. On the family battlefield I am, quite literally, one man down – one woman on her own against two children. Two very opinionated children at that. It is in these kind of situations that I miss the voice in the background, the often ineffective but nevertheless reassuring deeper voice, dispensing supportive one liners – “Listen to your mother!”

When you parent alone, you have to be good cop AND bad cop, maintain friendly relations yet still command respect. Maybe I could try developing a multiple personality disorder? Or recording an authoritative male voice off the radio – John Humphries perhaps – to be played back in times of crisis. Hmmm. Or maybe not. I’ll get my coat…

Flickr pic by Dangerpup



  1. 6 January, 2010 / 7:29 am

    Hi, I picked up your link on the mediawomenuk list and couldn’t resist responding to this dilemma. It’s been a few years since my kids were at school, but I used to have that exact argument with them all the time. “Where am I supposed to put it?” Ah, yes, I remember it well. I couldn’t believe there was nowhere to leave coats, but apparently there wasn’t, or at least not if you actually wanted to maintain your ownership of the coat. What can I say? Hang in there. I was a lone voice in the wilderness too but somehow my kids survived to adulthood without freezing to death and odds are yours will too. Seems to me you’re doing a great job :)

  2. 6 January, 2010 / 11:58 am

    Thanks Deb! She had made it this far with little protection from the cold so hopefully she is tough enough to take a bit of snow :-)

  3. gem
    6 January, 2010 / 2:03 pm

    If she’s cold enough today she’ll wear it tomorrow. I’m convinced teenagers have an inbuilt beer coat.

  4. 6 January, 2010 / 2:36 pm

    Bizarre but I think you’re right Gem, they just don’t seem to feel the cold like normal people do…

  5. 6 January, 2010 / 10:26 pm

    Another captivating read jo, its so nice to see it openly expressed,
    The inner feeling of lone parent to question are we doing our best (being only one cop)at times affects a few aspects of one parent. i get same questions, and resistance too and ive got the deep voice. :)

    • 11 January, 2010 / 9:36 am

      Hmmm…and I was hoping if only I could deepen my voice, all my problems would be solved. Damn. :-(

  6. 7 January, 2010 / 11:43 am

    Great post. Ahh the joys of single parenting. Sounds quite like our house, with three teens who voice “it’s not ‘that’ cold mum”, it can be an uphill battle sometimes. At least they compromise by wearing several warm layers and throwing on scarves, gloves and boots.

    • 11 January, 2010 / 9:35 am

      Got my teen to wear…wait for it… a coat AND scarf this morning!!! She must be ill or something.

      • 11 January, 2010 / 10:10 am

        wot’s that!! shock! a coat AND a scarf :-)

        I’m sure you teen will recover from this ailment hahaha

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.