Two years ago, having just got divorced, I needed to start applying to schools for my daughter. As a divorced mom, it was definitely a difficult time to handle. From the emotional roller coaster to having to look out for my daughter’s psychological health and mood swings, it was anything but easy. Many mothers end up playing the role of both parents and even take on financial responsibilities causing an even heavier burden.
During this time, I was still expected to choose a suitable school for my child, as well as make sure she’s prepared for the school interview. If you’ve ever attended a school interview, you know how stressful it is for both the mother and a 3-year-old child.
While filling in the school application, I stumbled across a question which -due to my recent traumatic divorce– made me wonder why these questions were being asked in the first place. As I know many applicants are regularly rejected, I was left in fear that my daughter would not get accepted for having divorced parents.
Am I a hypocrite?
The criteria upon which schools accept children is unknown to parents. However, after hearing about parents being asked which sports clubs they go to and where they vacation in the summer, it instantly hit me that they could have this ideal image of what a perfect family should look like.
Just like schools don’t officially announce that they do not accept children with learning difficulties, I was worried having divorced parents would be an unspoken reason for rejection. The same mother who taught her child to be honest no matter what, chose to lie and check the ‘married’ box on her daughter’s school application to give her a better chance of securing a place within a good school.
Should a school application include the parents’ marital status?
Many would be fine with it. It’s normal to know the parents’ marital status as a child spends a great amount of time at school and a parents’ divorce is something that would probably affect their attitude and behavior. When the school administration is aware of the situation, they could provide the needed support for the child.
As a single mom, I couldn’t agree more. Support and understanding are what a single mother seeks for herself and her child. However, it could very well be a red flag used to exclude students or even a reason to blame a child for any misbehavior or poor academic performance.
A few months later, the situation reoccurred when I was applying for my little one at a winter camp. If this information is important for a school application, it’s totally irrelevant for a camp application where a child only spends two weeks. While I chose to check the ‘divorced’ box this time, I was left feeling stressed and confused.
Because school and education are an essential part of a child’s life, it is important for parents to feel that their children are in safe hands instead of just treating them as numbers on a waiting list. Divorced parents already go through a lot of stress and need help and support during this challenging time, not judgment and rejection. It would make all the difference in a mother’s life if she knows she can resort to her child’s school for advice and assistance.
Dear single moms,
I wake up everyday reminding myself that I have to accept myself and I teach my daughter to do the same. If I always feel that being a single mom is an issue, my daughter would never accept that her parents are divorced. Being raised in an Eastern society where a woman is stereotyped on so many levels, this could affect her life decisions greatly. Hiding my marital status -to gain society’s approval- does not teach my daughter the value she needs in life. As mothers, we should lead by example as our actions speak louder than any words we could tell our children.