Single Parenting Is a Drastic Choice in South Korea
In the past two decades, cases of single parenting have been on the increase and in some parts of the world; single families are more common than the nuclear families. Many families are increasingly headed by single mothers, fathers, or even grandparents who bear all the responsibilities of bringing up the children (Yarber and Paul 21). Single parenting may be a common occurrence but the people who experience them agree that they are very stressful as compared to the nuclear families. Some members do the mistake of assuming than single parenting would be normal as having two parents but it is not and would never be the same. Single parenting means that the single parent would have to take all the responsibilities of taking the children to school, keeping the job, and paying all the expenses of the family.
All around the world, people continue to divorce, others die while others just up-bring their children without a husband and out of wedding setting. Others have argued that single parenting is good (Rockwell, Lynda, and Mary 14). This may true to some extent as witnessed in all parts of the world including South Korea. Some people have argued that single parenting is not as awful as some of us may think, they argue that the married couples arguing with one other spend the energy required to care for the children as a single parent. They say this argument is more draining than single parenting
Single parenting makes a parent the overall authority. The single parent is the sole and final decision maker in the family and rarely consults or seeks for approval of any third party. Single parents take decision-making process more serious than those who are married. The ability to make all the decisions give room for more growth than in marriages where one partner may intentionally wait for the other one to make decisions for the whole family (Miller 7). Single parenting also gives the parent the freedom to get involved some personal activities that they would not have engaged in when married. There are no fights over how things are done including family activities and the general arrangement of things in the house. The single parent also has the freedom on the choice of the model to raise the kids including the family values and culture to teach the kids. In societies dominated by individualism, such parents rarely get criticized on the manner in which they bring up their children.
The benefits of weekends are well understood by single parents. This is something that even the happily married couples would wish to have. Parents may decide to have uninterrupted weekends all to themselves (Volkman 12). The weekdays are usually stressful with many things to do and keep an eye on the children. The weekends therefore offer parents the much needed break and time to relax and rejuvenate from all the events of the past week. Single parenting may also benefit children sometimes especially where a divorce leads to children being separated from abusive parent or parent with problems of drug addiction.
The children are also spared the possible heated exchanges between parents in their presence (Dong-Sik, Gyeong-Suk, and Soong-Nang 530). The children and the single parent are, in such cases, able to enjoy a peaceful and stable environment that is sometimes lacking in nuclear families. Children who grow in single parent families may become more observant and caring towards their parents and siblings. Such children learn vital lessons in life including financial management.
Scholar have argued children raised by their single mothers are better than children raised in a nuclear family (Dong-Sik, Gyeong-Suk, and Soong-Nang 537). Modern day single mothers have challenged the widely held belief by social scientists that children raised by single mothers have high propensity of getting pregnant in their teens. While this may be true, this is a social trend that is determined by various factors including financial status of the single parent and geopolitical region.
Studies have shown that single mothers in South Korea face stigmatization and are mostly considered promiscuous. They are not given enough support by the governmental institutions and other stakeholders. The mothers have limited employment opportunities and yet they have to raise their families and pay bills (Sheppard and Mirka 50). These challenges mainly stem from the fact that South Korea values the traditional nuclear family unit. This makes unwedded mothers to be discriminated on by friends, family members, their employers, and the general society. Single parent, especially a single mother implies a negative connotation and some mothers are forced to hide their marital status to avoid the humiliation and discrimination in the society.
In South Korea, being a single mother is very challenging to an extent that, friends and families advises anyone who gets pregnant out of wedlock to either abort the child or give them up for abortion (Willicox 518). The humiliation and the discriminations are not only directed to the single mothers, but also their family members, siblings and also the children. Most single women give up their children for adoption because they realize that the child would face many problems growing up with a single mother. The child would be teased and taunted when people come to know that the mother is unwed.
The child would continue to face these problems even when they reach adulthood. The government policies make the matters worse by directing funds to orphanages, presuming that, orphanages would offer the children better care than their mothers would. The government gives out funds that should be channeled to the single mothers to the orphanages and leave out children leaving with their single mothers (Volkman 14). May, being a family month includes Mothers’ Day. Some stakeholders have used this day to try to bring changes on the negative policies that negatively influence the single mothers.
In South Korea, single parenting enjoys all the stated benefits, but also suffers huge problems. Child rearing has continued to cause problems for the single parents, especially the single mothers. The societal structures have made it very difficult for the single parents to engage actively in things happening around them. In Seoul, single parents hardly find time to join others in doing recreational activities (Sheppard and Mirka 54). This denies them the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate as others do; they are occupied with the activities revolving around child bearing. The society has made it impossible for such parents to have the leisure time, and engage in their hobbies. Challenges in life like diseases and parental challenges with the youths rest on one person.
Single parents in South Korea who have children suffering from chronic diseases and disabilities are faced with serious financial problems. The support provided by the government is not enough to cater for all the needs, which such families needs. The single parent sometimes find themselves in a situation where they have to stay indoors and care for their children, and still be the ones who pay all the bills. This situation is so serious that researches have been done to find out the impact and possibly see what government and other stakeholders can do to save the situation. Heykyung and Eun‐Kyoung (2009), Parents who have children with developmental problems are also facing the same challenge (154). With all these challenges, the single parents are financially constrained because they do not share the expense with anyone but themselves alone.
Studies have also shown that single parenting in South Korea does not do much justice to the performance of the children in school. Children from single families generally perform poor than those from nuclear families. School performance sometimes requires close co-ordination between parents and teachers. Single parents have many things to do apart from keeping their job and paying the family bills (Willicox 520). Family expenses may sometimes force single parents to work long time to settle all the bills. Single parents would therefore find it difficult to attend school meeting instead of looking for what the children would eat. In cases where they find time for school meetings, they hardly have time to check whatever the teachers suggested for their children.
Single parents have also found it difficult to choose the best way to help their children in school, especially if they did not attend school or dropped out of school at a lower level. The child ends losing in school because of single parenting (Willicox 528). In South Korea, the single parents face depression when they see their children fail in school, yet they cannot do anything to help. The depression also arises from the many chores on has to undertake for the family to live a normal life, just like other nuclear families.
The high adoption rate in the South Korea is another pointer of all the troubles that single parents face. Many children are adopted and taken to the United States (Volkman 34). No parent would allow her child to be adopted unless faced with many challenges in upbringing him or her. Single mothers are the worst affected from the gossips, unfair judgments plus the unfavorable financial and social conditions. South Korea also records high number of single mothers detached from social-economic activities. One reason pointed out for this is the poor health that comes because of stress and depression from the hardships they go through. A comparison on the dynamics of single parenting between America and South Korea shows that Single parents in South Korea, are under many difficulties as compared to their counterparts in America.
Job training and improved support to the mothers will be a social justice to the single mothers in South Korea. Access to public housing remains difficult to the single mothers, and the available support for the mothers should be effectively being advertised so that these mothers are aware of the existence. Government should develop policies, which are friendly to single mothers and support all the institutions that work with single mothers to improve their situation. The government should also work closely with the few adoptees that have come back to South Korea and are trying to change the negative perceptions people have about single parenting. Unless these measures are made, single motherhood in south Korea would remain a radical choice.
Kim, Dong-Sik, Gyeong-Suk Jeon, and Soong-Nang Jang. “Socioeconomic status, social support, and self-rated health among lone mothers in South Korea.” International journal of public health 55.6 (2010): 551-559.Retrieved from < http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00038-010-0169-9>
Miller, Julia R. Encyclopedia of Human Ecology. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Internet resource.
Oh, Heykyung, and Eun‐Kyoung Othelia Lee. “Caregiver burden and social support among mothers raising children with developmental disabilities in South Korea.” International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 56.2 (2009): 149-167.Retrieved from < http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10349120902868624>
Rockwell, Robert E, Lynda C. Andre, and Mary K. Hawley. Families and Educators as Partners. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Sheppard, Michael, and Mirka Gröhn. Prevention and Coping in Child and Family Care: Mothers in Adversity Coping with Child Care. London [u.a.: Kingsley, 2004. Print.
Volkman, Toby A. Cultures of Transnational Adoption. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press, 2005. Print
Willicox S 2003. The Effect of Widowhood on Physical and Mental Health, Health Behavior and Health Outcome,22(5): 513-522.Retrieved from < http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sylvia_Wassertheil-Smoller/publication/231585791_The_effects_of_widowhood_on_physical_and_mental_health_health_behaviors_and_health_outcomes_The_Women%27s_Health_Initiative/links/00b7d52827f6480c62000000.pdf>
Yarber, Annice D, and Paul M. Sharp. Focus on Single-Parent Families: Past, Present, and Future. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2010. Print.