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A single mum with her two children

The Family Unit: positive single parenting

Doris lives in London with her two children, a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, who were both fathered by the same Danish donor.

Some names have been changed to protect the identities of people mentioned in this article.

What are your thoughts around the ‘traditional’ family in the UK?

I believe that the ‘traditional family’ of two parents is a very old fashioned idea. Today’s family units are so different, and can be created in so many different ways.

Do you think that your family dynamic is properly represented within UK society?

Not really. There are quite a few single parents in my social group, but not many who had their children by donor – although this does seem to be changing.

I believe we should be able to create a society where single-parent families are valued the same as two-parent families, and treated equally and fairly – a society where the idea of becoming a single parent by choice is viewed positively, and is achievable and financially sustainable.

‘We should be able to create a society where becoming a single parent by choice is viewed positively.’

Do your children know that their father was a donor?

They are a little too young to have asked many questions regarding our family. So far, it seems normal to them that not all families have a Dad – just as my son has a sister but some of his friends don’t. They see friends with two dads, friends with two mums, or one parent like me.

They are also growing up with a good friend who was adopted. They know that their own mum is a ‘super mum’, ahem, who decided to have them on her own and loves them more than anything! They also know the word ‘Donor’ and I believe my 5 year-old just about understands that Mum used a ‘donor’s seed’ to have them. I also think that having a sibling from the same donor will really help them in the future.

How will you deal with the question when it comes up?

I firmly believe it is always best to tell them the truth when they are interested to know. The conversation should be led by them and they will always receive age-appropriate, truthful answers to their questions. I’m very lucky that they also have some brilliant, immediate family, male role-models who love them very much.

Mostly children just need to know that they are loved and understood. I hope all of this will give them the tools to be happy with their own family unit in the future.

Do you have a life insurance?

I don’t have life insurance, but I think I should and that it’s important to have. I do need to find out what products are available to me and think about which would be best.

What are your biggest concerns about your, and your family’s, financial future?

I’m worried about paying off my mortgage, having a big enough pension and if retirement will be possible when I reach State Pension Age.

I intend to create a will and look at life insurance products as soon as possible so I can better provide for my children. I think that, alongside a will, I would have to rely on my immediate family, and possibly even my friends, if, for any reason, I was suddenly unable to provide for my children.

‘Just over a third (36%) of people who have a child aged four years-old and under said that not being able to leave an inheritance to their children is a financial concern.’

Having a second child was a big decision, financially. I guess it wasn’t very wise of me, but I’m glad I did it.

What are the pros and cons of being a single parent in 2017?

The cons are definitely nursery and childcare fees, which are far too high. When I returned to work after maternity leave, these fees took the largest part, or almost all, of my salary. Of course, I don’t have maintenance pay, but my family are great and help me out.

However, my workplace is very accommodating when it comes to working flexible hours. Plus, I am eligible for some child tax credits.

Do you think there are any stereotypes related to single parents?

Typically, people believe that people become single parents because of an unfortunate circumstance, and not due to a positive choice. However, I rarely, if ever, feel judged as a single parent, and I have great support from my family and friends.

I think that, regarding the views people and the media have of single parents and parenting, society has progressed rapidly in the last few decades. I’m lucky to live in the capital, though, as you are rarely aware of any stigma around single parents in a diverse city like London.

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