Single Parenting Isn’t a ‘Dangerous Concept for Society’
On Friday, during a hearing, Justice N Kirubakaran, of the Madras High Court, remarked that single parenting is a “dangerous concept for society,” reported Times of India.
From the TOI report and others, it appears Kirubakaran was attempting to note that lack of parental affection could result in negative behavior that threatens the moral fabric of society. The antidote, parental affection, must come from both mother and father, he argued; one cannot compensate for the lack of the other.
It’s unclear what this statement had to do with the hearing, which was a contempt petition against the Ministry of Women and Child Development for failing to comply with a court ruling to combat child abuse and spread awareness around crimes against children; a best guess is that Kirubakaran was looking for an excuse to weigh in on the changing nature of Indian families (from joint, to include nuclear and — gasp — single-parent families) and his disapproval thereof.
We won’t argue the importance of parents; it’s a given that parents, regardless of gender, are important in a child’s life. And we’ll only note in passing how insulting that statement is to any parent whose spouse is deceased, who must work through their own grief and shoulder responsibilities they likely never expected to navigate alone.
Instead, let’s just focus on how patently false Kirubakaran’s statement is.
Single-parenting is not a dangerous concept for society. There is no legitimate evidence that single-parenting leads to the kind of asocial, presumably criminal, behavior that Kirubakaran suggests. In fact, it’s arguably better for children to be raised by one parent, if the alternative is to be exposed to chronic conflict or abuse (directly or vicariously) when the other parent is in the picture. Which suggests Kirubakaran’s comments speak more toward an outdated bias against divorce, than it does to concern for children’s well-being.
The truth is parenting is never single. The old adage that it takes a village to raise a child is true. Parents — whether married, committed partners, or single — are supported by family members, nannies, day care workers, friends, co-workers, teachers and more to make sure their child is loved and learns and grows appropriately and safely. The stigma that prevents single parents in India from tapping into a broad network of support is what is dangerous for society, not the act of single parenting.