Who has it tougher — single moms or dads? While the women may have to struggle to make both ends meet, men find it tougher to meet the children’s emotional needs, says Seema Sinha!
Single parenting is daunting, involving multitasking at all levels. A large chunk of responsibilities, from waking up kids to sending them to school, checking their homework, giving them food, their clothes, and their emotional well-being lies with the mother.
A father is basically the provider. But, when you are a single mom, you also play the additional role of a provider. So, it is definitely tougher for single moms than single dads, since the man has finances sorted out with stable monthly earnings in place, and he has already gone through parenting, whereas a single mom may have to start afresh as far as earning goes, which can be quite traumatic and frightening.
I never took any alimony from my ex-husband because of the lengthy procedure and hence it was quite challenging for me to start looking at fresh assignments and get finances in place. So, besides my own career path, the other challenges were to build a strong emotional foundation for the children, juggling and playing out all responsibilities in running the home, resolving stressful situations, spreading happiness, and presenting the issue of divorce to them in a positive manner. Maintaining a great relationship and being friends with your ex-husband is very important for the emotional stability of the kids. My parents would never run down or speak ill about each other.
A stigma is still attached to divorced women and you need a lot of courage, conviction and strength to deal with it. It is less difficult for a single father to re-settle as compared to single moms. As a woman grows older, she puts her personal emotional crisis on a back-burner. Then you reach a stage when it becomes unnecessary to have someone in your life as you are so occupied with your children. However, both single mothers as well as single fathers have to be more responsible and cannot decide randomly as to who they would be sharing their personal space with since that person will also be part of their children’s personal space.
Fortunately, for my kids and me, my working hours are very flexible which gives me lot of time for them. I think I have the best job in the world for single parenting. It allows me to choose my work as well as the timings. I also try and involve my kids in my work. I bring them to the sets to see what Mommy does. For instance, after my three-week shoot for Fear Factor in South Africa was wrapped up, I flew my kids down for a short holiday.
Life gets difficult
(The model-turned-actor lost his wife to cancer last May. He was married for 13 years and has a 12-year-old son Sidhant)
Patience is a virtue, and with children, women are more patient. That is where women score over men 100 per cent, there are no two ways about it.
A lot of women earn more than men, but the fact is that more men earn than women and that is how our traditional system works. The working ratio between men and women is around 4:1. Money is a very important aspect when you are taking the responsibility of bringing up a child. Whether it is a child’s education, development, holidays, luxury…money plays a big role. So, whether it is tough for a single mother to raise her child single-handedly depends a lot upon her financial status.
But, there are emotional and psychological factors too that play an important role in the development of a child. For example, my son has three appointments today — he has to meet his dentist, then ophthalmologist and then he has to go for his haircut. Earlier, I wouldn’t even know the dates of these appointments as my wife was hands-on. But, today, I have to fulfill these.
Rina would also take him to the Turf Club at 5 am for horse riding. Once his exam gets over I will have to do that. So, there is more hardwork in store for me. I didn’t know how to run the house, how to file my taxes. I am a very lazy, laidback and spoilt person. But I cannot afford to be spoilt anymore. Now I have to be more responsible because my whole life revolves around my son. I have to be prepared for it.
Life has become difficult to an extent. But, a human being is designed in such a way that you adapt to a situation. You have to find a solution logically rather than getting panicky. I want to do my best for my son.
I am fortunate to have a good support system. My mother is with me. Even my wife’s family is very supportive. She was the youngest of seven, so there are six other siblings, and then these days my sister is also around. It is a mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages.
There is no change in my son’s behaviour pattern. Emotionally, he has been very mature. He will be going abroad on a vacation. His routine follows the same pattern it did when my wife was around.
As for me, I have done 60-odd films, there is a lifestyle connect with Fashion Week, and then I am also developing a brand. I write and am active in environmental issues. I have varied interests which I continue to pursue.