It all comes down to value…

I was catching up with one of my close friends last week and we were discussing a recent case I’d read about where a husband and wife battled it out in court for 7 years spending crazy amounts of money because she knew he had money and he claimed he was bankrupt. I explained to my friend how I just didn’t get it. I understand the animosity built up over the course of a divorce and the heightened feelings of resentment but surely the children should be kept out of it?

The two children (teenagers) in this particular case were taken out of private school and the mother was single-handedly raising them. One of the reasons she fought the case (for so long) was for all women out there who were in the same position.

And then my friend so aptly said: “It all comes down to how much the father values the child”. She hit the nail on the head with that one. If a father has the money but still chooses not to support his children, what value is he putting on his children? On their education, on their standard of living? And how are his children supposed to respect him?

Granted, their may have been things the mother did that the media didn’t report but ultimately, she was raising their two girls on her own. In the end she was awarded £20 million, but not before attending 56 hearings, and only after she spent about £6.5 million on various solicitors and barristers.

It does make you question parental responsibility and what it really entails. At the end of the day, you can’t force someone to support their child if they really don’t want to but for the sake of your child, you can try.

Single Parent Pessimist

Inspiring Mama Series: Emma Jackson

Emma Jackson is 27 and a single mum to Ethan-James who is 20 months old. She worked in a busy day nursery after leaving school in 2002 until 2007. She then worked at a plant hire company until 2009 and then in Wales until 2010. On the 3rd of November 2010 she had a life changing accident which resulted in a 5 week hospital stay. She had 10 operations in 7 days and has had 6 more since. It took the emergency services 1 hour and 35 minutes to get her out of her car which had dropped down a 30ft. embankment. She’s been left with scars for life as well as mobility issues. But she hasn’t let any of this stop her going after what she wants. She is one brave mama!

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NM: You’ve been through quite a bit in the last few years and you’re still fairly young. Was wanting a child something you always had in mind or something you realised after your accident?

EJ: I have always wanted children but timescale wise it wasn’t something I could pinpoint. I was told I was infertile in 2005 and this was heartbreaking as I always dreamed of being a mum. After the accident I realised how much we take for granted and how short life is so I set about fertility treatments and ways to become a parent as a single mum.

NM: Being a single parent is a tough job but you took it on voluntarily. What motivates you?

EJ: Being a single mum is very hard work but every moment, every smile, giggle and cuddle is so rewarding. I don’t see it as a challenge as I’ve never known anything different.

NM: What method did you choose to have your son, Ethan-James? And why?

EJ: The method I chose to have my son was artificial insemination using donor sperm. I chose this way over adoption, fostering, etc. as I wanted to carry my own child and be the biological mother.

NM: Were there any risks with conceiving Ethan-James so soon after the accident? You were young and could have possibly waited a little longer?

EJ: No, no risks but my fertility specialist said 25 (age) was cutting it if I wanted to try as I needed medications, etc. But operations did have to wait till I had him.

NM: Does the National Health Service (in the UK) cover artificial insemination? I’m guessing it’s quite an expensive process?

EJ: The NHS in my area didn’t. I don’t know if they still don’t or do. IVF, you get 3 cycles but again not in our area. You have to go out of area. I did mine privately.

NM: For those who are considering having a baby without a partner, what advice would you give them?

EJ: If you are considering becoming a parent without a partner I would say the most important things are to have good family and friends for support. I have amazing friends and family. Think long and hard about the financial part. Also being the baby’s sole carer, you don’t get a day off if you’re tired or ill. You still have to look after them 100%, there’s no going to bed to recover, etc. whilst the other half helps out.

For more information on artificial insemination and what it involves, click here.

The choice to single parent

One morning last week, I was watching the 100 women series on BBC News. Their focus that day was on women who are choosing to be single mothers; having and raising a child without a partner. The question asked was “Is there any way to tell if women are choosing to have children on their own or is it just a necessity (because they’re getting older)?”

Sally O’Donnell (BBC movie based on her) says it came as a decision, not a question.

She said “I am going to give this a shot and if it doesn’t work then I’ll let go of the chance of having a child.”

She was worried she’d be judged as an older woman on her own but says in fact the medical community was very supportive. She went through IVF to have her son Stephan.

She says (when criticised for having a child on her own at her age): “People can make judgements about any situation and that’s up to them but it doesn’t have to impact me, it’s their stuff, it’s not my stuff.”

Sally kept hearing people say their children are the thing they are most proud about (amongst all their other achievements). She too wanted to experience that.

Demographics are changing. Women are reaching their late 30s and 40s and suddenly realise they are going to be childless. So they either embrace the childless life or see how they can become mothers.

There were two guests on the show to discuss this.

Tim Samuels (radio presenter) feels it’s a woman’s RIGHT if they want to have a child. Zoe Williams (columnist at The Guardian) says it’s not a right but it is a NEED and we shouldn’t underestimate that.

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So what do you think? Should more women go out there and have the child they desire or should women who haven’t had a chance to have a child by the time they are a certain age just let go and accept it? I’d love to hear your views. Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing a mother who chose to go down the path of single parenting (in my Inspiring Mama’s series) after a serious accident changed her life forever. Watch this space!

For more information, check out Single Mothers by Choice and questions you should ask yourself first.