One Too Many Hats... The Burden of Distance Learning On Single Parents
Imagine being the bread winner, the nurturer, the cook, the housekeeper, the friend, the fan, the disciplinarian. Imagine being all of these things and more EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The act of “keeping all of the balls in the air” for a single mother is more than juggling, it’s magic. Circumstances require single mothers to exhibit grit, determination and perseverance at super hero levels on a daily basis.
But, wait. That’s not enough. Let’s add teacher to the mix.
Shelter in place orders, while difficult for all, are creating a massively disproportionate strain on single parents. We are asking these individuals to become teachers, while being employees, mothers and care takers… ALONE. They are without support, worried about making ends meet, worried about their children falling behind, worried about the epidemic the nation is addressing… And now, we have added that one final brick that will make the entire structure crumble. There is not a question of IF, but WHEN.
The distance learning plan, while no doubt made with the best of intentions, is failing these families. 25% of our nation’s children are being raised by single parents (35% here in Sacramento County). Are we really willing to fail so many children? We can argue that these children won’t fall that far behind in just a few months, but the reality is, statistically speaking, they are already more likely to suffer educational deficiencies and have lower incomes as adults. While it is true that there are so many children of single parents who defy the odds, should we really be stacking the deck even higher against them?
And, what about mom’s mental health? Single mothers already carry an excessive amount of mom guilt. They already struggle to find any semblance of balance, to make room for their own care. So, let's exacerbate the problem? We are racing a clock, a clock that will wind down to UNNECESSARY negative outcomes.
This plan has failed. This school year is over. It is time to acknowledge it and determine how to move forward next year in a way that properly supports ALL of our families.