When Preeti found that she was expecting a baby, her then partner’s response was predictable — get rid of it. But the gutsy event manager stood firm. She would have the baby on her own and to hell with what anyone had to say. Today, the mother of a bright 12-year-old boy, she has no regrets. “I don’t feel the lack of a partner, once bitten twice shy.”
But, Preeti acknowledges that in a society as conservative as ours, she would have faced problems had it not been for the unwavering support of her parents and extended family. “If anyone asks about my son’s father, I tell them straight off that I am an unmarried mother.”
Not everyone is as lucky as Preeti. A single mother, whether by choice, divorced or widowed, has problems getting admission for her children in school, getting a passport and, of course, fending off unwanted curiosity. And in a male chauvinist social milieu, a single mother is usually considered fair game.
The popular belief is that children bought up in single parent homes are somehow less well-adjusted than those in a conventional set-up. But these myths are being shattered slowly. Providing they are offered love, security and support, children of single parents turn out just as well-mannered as children from two-parent families.
Radha Kumar, a professor at Jamia Millia was well-established when she became a single mother. She with her 100-year-old grandmother are bringing up Susheela. She feels Susheela is not only well-adjusted, but also confident and happy. What irks her are chance questions by insensitive officials about Susheela’s father during her travels with her daughter.
“If children are well-mannered and people compliment you, that’s the best reward one can get,” says Asha Arun Oberoi’s whose husband died 12 years ago, leaving her to bring up her children Vikrant and Priyanka.
She invested more time and effort in her children resulting in their being well-adjusted and secure. Single or married, it makes little difference. What does count is the way you deal with your children, she says.
Triumphs and setbacks
For 48-year-old, Bharti Kapoor who runs an NGO for children with learning disabilities in Chandigarh, “being a single working mother has its own triumphs and setbacks. The bond that I share with my son, Sahil, is special. But Bharti admits, “As a single mother a woman tries hard to make up for the absence of a father.”
Manju Gupta, an English teacher at a private school in Chandigarh is a happy single mother. She insists this has made her bond all the more strong with her daughter Sneha. But, it also burdens both the mother and the child with responsibility. The mother has to go that extra mile to ensure that the child doesn’t miss the presence of a father. The child too takes responsibility for being there for the mother: “I wish my daughter was less mature and as naughty as the