Shattering the stereotypes

Wednesday 22 August 2018

LaurenNo matter where you go you’ll hear stereotypes: “boys are strong” “girls are caregivers” and a million more. These stereotypes are drilled into you from such a young age that some people actually start to let them define them and who they are. Some people will abide by these stereotypes their whole lives believing that they are true and that they can’t do a certain job or activity because of their gender, or age etc.

I am told day in and day out “all you do is look after the baby all day”. It’s also said that my child won’t have a good upbringing because of how young I was when I had her, that I’m not going to amount to anything... you know, just the usual.

But, let’s talk facts for a moment. According to Gingerbread there are around 2 MILLION single parents in the UK and 68% of single parents are in work. The risk of single parents falling into a poverty-stricken life has fallen over the past decade due to more single parents going back to work or into education. Single parents all around the country continue to shatter the stereotypes on a daily basis and I am proud to be a part of that.

Being a young single parent, people are always shocked when I tell them what I do with my life. They always assume that I don’t do anything. The reality is though, I am SHATTERING THE STEREOTYPE!

I had my daughter at 19 years old. I was with her dad for the first 6 months of her life and funnily enough, I was very rarely negatively stereotyped  then, it was only when we went our separate ways that it started. When my daughter was 5 months old I enrolled onto a distance learning course in Business Administration and I completed this at home while my daughter’s dad was away at work. I was so determined to complete the course I was working on it day and night, while my daughter was sleeping on my chest, playing or eating. Every opportunity I got I was writing the assignments and taking the tests. However, when I became a single parent people started to assume I was going to quit my course. No no no, I passed with the HIGHEST grade!

I then went on to shock people more. That September, 5 days after my daughter turned 1, I started an access course in business, I was attending college 3 days a week and had 16 hours of independent learning to do on top of that, again I passed this course and I start university September coming!

I am also a member of the Young Women’s Advisory Panel for Young Women’s Trust where I take part in empowering workshops with them and contribute to their research and campaigns for change for other young women. People are always so shocked “how can you be on an Advisory Panel when you have your child to care for?” The truth is that the trust is incredibly understanding and accommodating and a lot of the people involved also have children. Young Women’s Trust work with us and run workshops and sessions on housing and budgeting etc. and they support us throughout it all!

So tell me, while I am doing all of this and raising my child, how is she going to grow up to amount to nothing? Or be a criminal? Or end up ‘just the same’? Because these are just some of the stereotypes which are cast onto her for being raised by a single parent.

Do you know who else was raised by single parents? Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Christina Aguilera, Eddie Murphy, Marilyn Monroe even Barack Obama. If these people can SHATTER the stereotypes, if their mothers can do it and raise children who grew into such successful adults then why can’t we? 

Watch this space because women and single parents are coming up fast. We’re shattering stereotypes. You can break the mould and you can be exactly who you want to be and achieve anything you want too, all you have to do is work hard and put your mind to it!