single parents' association

H/l: A group to fight post-divorce blues, cope with stress in children
intro: Peer group divorced persons, widows and those 'separated' from their spouses share difficulties and find solutions with help from family court marriage counsellors

Tuesday , Jan 12, 2010 at Pune

Pune: All through her four-year divorce ordeal, Pradnya had sleepless nights. After her formal separation from her husband, she is more worried seeing her school-going son unable to cope with the situation.
“It is not the pain of the divorce, but my son’s inability to cope with the separation that bothers me,” she says.

She has now joined the Single Parents’ Association (SPA) that works towards tackling problems of single parents such as bringing up children, coping with loneliness and so on.
The association that began with 20-odd members a year ago recently added 50 more indicating the growing need of such an organisation that was initiated by the ‘Association of Marriage Counsellors working in family courts in Maharashtra’.
“SPA is a platform where single parents can share problems like depression, social stigma and bringing up children and hope to find solutions,” said Rajendra Tatar, a marriage counsellor at the Pune District Family Court and one of the founders of the association.

“Our group has decided to focus on children’s upbringing and development and conduct activities concerning them,” says Kulkarni who attended her first meeting of SPA on Saturday. Another member, Harshada, whose divorce petition is pending in court said that SPA helps children understand that there are many others in society who stay with either the mother or the father and yet lead a normal life.

“This assurance means a lot to them,” says Harshada who has two school-going children.
Marriage counsellors say that even as parents struggle to confront social stigma attached to divorce, it is their children who suffer the most. “After a divorce, one parent, mostly the mother, gets the custody of children. The father is allowed to meet the child in court. This is awkward for both children and parents, as they do not know what to say or how to conduct themselves in such a situation. There is a lot of stress. The parents and children need something to ventilate their feelings,” said Tatar.

He added that as a result of the stigma and the reluctance to talk openly about it, single parents become isolated and so do their children. While most of the members are divorced persons between 35 and 45 years of age, there are also widows or just ‘separated’ persons. Members meet every alternate Sunday to talk or attend lectures and organise their own activities.
“But considering the increase in divorce cases and single parents, hardly one per cent is part of this association. We get calls from many single parents but only a few turn up and many still shy away from opening up,” Tatar said.


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