Single parents have been on the rise over the last fifty years. It’s more and more common to meet a single mom or a single dad these days. Because of this, it’s also much more common to see single parents portrayed on TV.
When I became a single mom, I realized that I didn’t know very many single mothers. Most of my friends are married or in long term relationships and most of their parents have been married for thirty plus years. My best source for learning how to be a single parent was through TV.
I realize that these characters are fictional and that their situations were entirely made up to help create a storyline, but I really feel for them and their struggles. They taught me a lot about being a single parent and some of them portrayed the role really well. Here’s who I relate to:
Danny Tanner, Full House – Danny Tanner lost his wife due to a tragic accident, and as a result, was left as a single father with three young daughters to take care of. Danny turned to his brother-in-law and best friend to help him raise his girls. It was tough at times, but they always managed to pull through. Plus, Danny also managed to date AND keep a clean house. Ladies, if this type of man isn’t a keeper then it’s time to reassess your standards! Danny taught me that as a single parent it’s okay to reach out to family and friends and that asking for help does not mean you are weak.
Nick Russo, Blossom – Nick becomes a single father after his wife walked out on him to pursue her own career. Nick is left with three children and struggles to maintain his career as a musician. Perhaps the biggest challenge for Nick is being able to relate to his teenage daughter, Blossom. Blossom is experiencing things like getting her first period, dating and struggling to understand her parents’ divorce. In the earlier years, Nick remains single and as a result, deals with some of the harder gender issues that a mother would usually tend to with a daughter. Nick taught me that gender stereotypes are wrong and that fathers are very capable of raising daughters on their own and mothers are very capable of raising sons on their own. As long as your child is loved and supported then they will be fine.
Miranda Hobbes, Sex and the City – Miranda’s pregnancy comes as a surprise and she decides to keep her unplanned baby and raise him on her own. Her family doesn’t live close enough to offer much support and her friends have little to no experience with children. Miranda struggles to find the balance between work and home life. Finally, Miranda tells her boss that she can’t continue to work 70+ hours a week. She says that her work week will need to be scaled back if she’s going to continue with her employment. Her boss agrees and things start to get better at work and at home. Miranda eventually married her son’s father, but she taught me an important life lesson: Find balance.
Alan Harper, Two and a Half Men – Alan’s wife left him because she thought she was a lesbian. As if that wasn’t traumatizing enough, he got kicked out of the house and had nowhere to go. His brother took him in and Alan was able to live with him, rent free, because he had huge alimony and child support payments and could not afford housing on his own. Even though Alan is a Chiropractor, money is tight due to the payments he makes to his ex-wife every month. Because of this, Alan learns how to pinch pennies. He gets his hair cut at a barber school, he takes on a second job for a brief period, he uses coupons and he watches and waits for sales. At times Alan is over the top and comes off as being cheap, but most of the time I find him very practical with his money. Alan taught me how important it is to budget and plan and save where you can because those things are important for any single parent – doctor or otherwise!
Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls – Lorelai was faced with plenty of challenges very early on in life. She became pregnant at 16 and dropped out of high school and ran away from her home and wealthy parents. Despite all of this, she shows a strong sense of determination and is able to get a job as a maid at an Inn and raise her daughter. Lorelai worked hard at her job and her perseverance paid off, as she eventually is promoted to the position of Executive Manager at the Inn. Lorelai takes great pride in raising her daughter and is a strong woman who never gives up. She is funny, creative and brings humour to everyday life. Lorelai (in my opinion) is an amazing single mom. She challenged the stereotype and overcame a lot of adversity. She taught me to be strong and believe in myself and to never give up.
I don’t want nearly as much TV now as I did when I was growing up and into my early 20s. I simply don’t have the time anymore; after all, I am a single mom with a lot of priorities and responsibilities to juggle! However, I am extremely glad that I did get the opportunity to watch these shows and learn from these characters. They have helped me to realize that being a single parent is tough, but manageable. And that I can do anything if I set my mind on it and never give up or back down. These characters all made their share of mistakes as they navigated the world of single parenting. Most of them just figured stuff out as time passed, which is really how a lot of us figure things out. I thought most of them set great examples and were able to help society see single parents in a different light. They may have not been perfect parents all of the time, but then again, who is?