Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Defining 20 years, there has been a rapid growth

Defining single parent

In
the UK, in the past 20 years, there has been a rapid growth in the number of
single parents, also known as lone parents. Statistics show over two million
living in the UK today are single parents. Amongst the two million 86% are
headed by single mothers and the remaining 14% as single fathers (Gingerbread
2017).

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In
contrast to this, sociologists have identified numerous causes of becoming a
single parent (Thompson 2017).  These
have been categorised into two different groups; married and non-married
individuals.

Married

Married
women/men could become single parent if they were given a divorce, were separated
or a death of the spouse.  Similarly, a
married couple could be living as a single parent if, one is the breadwinner
and the other suffering from terminal illness.

Unmarried

Those
who were unmarried and have become single parents could be caused by
cohabitation (parents living together however, on the birth of their child, the
relationship is terminated). There are also single mothers who do not wish to
marry and become single parent by choice.

Age

Young
teenagers are becoming single mothers or single fathers whether they were
married or not (Thompson 2017).

Historical context

Single
parents living in the past were often caused by becoming a widow/widower. On
average the mean duration of marriages was 20 years however, by 1800’s people
commonly died in their mid-years rather than reaching their old ages. This
meant that one fifth of the household in the late 16th and early 17th
were widows, which were commonly discovered amongst women with children
(Rowlingson and McKay 2002).

Alongside
widowhood, couple separation was becoming a widespread. Many who wished couple
separation were not necessarily granted annulment. This could have been through
the differentiation between lower class and higher class. Hence, different forms
of self- divorce came into practice. Many self-divorces were formally done which
considered a consent from both parties and a witness. Some informal self-
divorces were also accepted; A simple as a return of the ring with a valid
explanation was enough to end the relationship (Rowlingson and McKay 2002).

 

Before
1753, there were no legal marriages in England and Wales, only rituals and
customs were performed alongside Church of England Ceremony. In 1753,
Hardwicke’s Marriage Act was established. This act abolished any
self-marriages. Hardwicke’s Marriage Act declared a marriage conduct which,
involved a sign on the register to bind the marriage between two people.
Alternatively, Cohabitation family became a temporary alternative to official
marriage ceremonies. Cohabitation occurred to be widely spreading until the end
of nineteenth century. However, Gillies (1985) implies that cohabitation was
common, but no existing statics were available on this subject (Rowlingson and
McKay 2002).

 

Correspondingly,
the rise of illegitimacy appears to be relatively widely spreading. Stone
(1990) quotes 6% of illegitimacy in 1690 to 20% in 1790 were discovered. These
women in the society were perceived and treated differently to other single
married mothers. Unmarried with legitimacy children happened to have immoral
behaviour therefore harsh actions were conducted through Bastardy Law (1873).
The Bastardy Law (1873) included discrimination against those children who were
born out of wedlock. Few legal rights were given to unmarried women which
caused a lot of difficulties (Silva1996).

Relating
back to the title, the impact on single parenthood maybe difficult now but the
struggle and difficulty were even more greater in the past.

 

Furthermore,
in the 19th Century, many unmarried mothers kept their condition
secret thus, some committed infanticide. Therefore, before the establishment of
adoption Act, informal adoption occurred to be the alternative. Those women who
struggle to afford another to feed would, abandon their child in a foundling
hospital which was established in 1741 or in an orphanage. In 1756, a deluge of
babies were left on the doorstep of foundling hospitals and orphanages. About
10,000 children died between 1756 and 1800 due to, excessive numbers of poor
condition children who were admitted in an orphanage or a foundling hospital.
Restriction were made and only the first children of unmarried would be
accepted (Rowlingson and McKay 2002).

Difficulty
in presenting historical data occurred due to many people kept it as a secret
in particular, from upper class and middle class. Evidence suggests that
illegitimacy were much more accepted amongst the poor and the working class.
Houlbrooke (1984) mentions in the village of Terling between 1570 and 1699, a
third of illegitimacy birth occurred in one decade.

 

After
Victoria Era, changes in the society were developed. In World War 2 whilst the
men were out fighting, government needed more workers. So, the government
started the women land army. At first only single women aged between 20-30
years were called up, but by mid 1943, almost 90% of single women and 80% of
married women were working in many fields. Thereafter, many other Acts were
established to make the society better; In 1966 Abortion Act and Divorce Act
were established (Rowlingson and McKay 2002). How the society is perceived as
diverse in family today, it was not discovered uncommon before
industrialisation.

 

Subsequently,
to make Britain a better place, William Beveridge identified five issues that
needed to be tackled, which he called five giants. These five giants were
poverty, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. To defeat these five giants,
he purposed on setting up a welfare state which consisted; social security, a
national health service, free education, council housing and full employment (BBC Bitesize)

Social security

Social
security introduced Family Allowance Act 1945, National insurance Act 1945 and
national insurance, industrial injuries Act 1946.

National Health Service

The
national health service Act 1948 was introduced by Aneurin Bevan allowing NHS
for everybody

Free Education

The
1944 Education Act introduced by Rab Butler allowing children to stay in
education until they are 15 years of age.

Council Housing

The
Town and Country Planning Act 1947, Children Act (1948) were established to
help provide good housing for children and their families who live in deprived
homes.

Employment

The
Marshall Aid (1948) was introduced to allow government to get the industry
going (BBC Bitesize)

Opposing
back to the title, William Beveridge was making the society a better place for
every individual. Controversial is discovered in Beveridge’s Report on the role
of a mother, who is recognised as vital; Vital in being a good wife and fecund
mother. Married women would be financially dependent upon the husband. This
meant that those women who were unmarried remained vulnerable with lack of
financial support, only, if an unmarried woman could insure work for herself.
Beveridge’s report was purposed at a time when illegitimacy had increased
because of the war. These changes were not mentioned in the report possibly
because Beveridge assumed that the end of war would resume the ascendency of
conjugal reproduction however, this did not take place (Silva 1996).

 

Furthermore,
single parents today, are still being stigmatised. Aftermath of the Riots 2011,
David Cameron mentioned ‘discipline and rigour was needed to mend the broken
society’. Parenting was perceived central in account of the social collapse.
The statement frequently linked to those families who are lone, working class
mothers with fatherless families. Therefore, social policy disciplinary
introduced troubled families programme which closely aimed at families with
their responsibility rather than to offer substantiated economic and social
assistance to offset or correct low income, poor health, bad housing or
deprivation. By doing this they were infantilising adults especially single
mothers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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