TV presenter and author Jacinta Tynan talks to Robyn Foyster about her new book The Single Mother’s Social Club –Inspiration and advice on embracing single parenthood.
Jacinta shares why she believes single parenting is an opportunity for new beginnings, and a call to step up in ways you never thought possible. Yes, she says there are challenges and sadly, still a stigma in some quarters but the upside is full of joy and potential and allows single mums to step into their power as a woman and as a mother.
Robyn: Tell us the inspiration behind writing the book?
Jacinta: I wrote the book because when I became a single mother I left home with my two little boys who were only four and six at the time and I was really struck straight away by how different the experience is from the stories that we hear about single motherhood. There is still very much an implication, I think, with single mother’s that there is something lacking in your life, you’re not doing life quite right and yes there are cases whether you are separated or divorced or recently widowed, it isn’t planned. It isn’t quite what we had in mind for our family for most of us. For some, of course, it is planned. But the single mother’s that I know, and I spoke to dozens of them for the book, are the most stunningly capable, resourceful, accomplished, wise women you’ll ever meet; who are embracing and loving life. But that’s the story you rarely hear, so I wanted to share that side of single motherhood. I wanted to make single mother’s seen and heard and validated and I also wrote it for mothers who are perhaps are contemplating single motherhood. They are thinking of having children by themselves and I wanted them to feel embolden that it is safe to come over to that side and know life will still be great. I also wanted to provide a resource for single mothers that I couldn’t find when I was in that situation.
Robyn: It’s incredible that there are not many of those resources available given single parenting is such a common thing. And there shouldn’t be a stigma, but there is, isn’t there?
Jacinta: I have to say that this was one of the binding themes of all the women I spoke to. One of the things they had in common was this stigma. They all talk about that. It’s less overt than it was in our mother’s generation. In fact, if you were a single mother then and you had a baby outside of wedlock, you were called a ‘fallen woman’. Just think about the nuance of that language. It’s basically saying your child doesn’t deserve to exist and if you were divorced the children were from a ‘broken home’. People still say that, actually. You’ve just got to watch the language there because the implication of that language is quite sinister. So thank goodness we have moved on in some ways from there.But while we think we have come so far and we are raising all these different family models, but actually, not really. For mothers who feel the stigma, it is more insidious. It shows up and is whipped up by the media. You’ll see headlines involving single mothers. It will say ‘Single Mother’ on the headline, it doesn’t say ‘Married Mother’.
Robyn: ‘Proud Mother of two’ is what they should say.
Jacinta: Yes that’s right. So there is still this subtle, or not so subtle suggestion that you are just not quite hitting the mark there. There is still the narrative of the two parent nuclear model is still the only model that we should all be aspiring to. If that works great but if it doesn’t work out and it means the difference of having a child or not having a child, then it is not the be all and end all. I wanted to put it out there that there is a different way, and it is a wonderful way.
Robyn: The upside of being a mother, whether you are a single mother or not, is a wonderful thing.
Jacinta: Yes, absolutely. And that is another reason I wrote the book because you do hear all the negatives about being a single mother and again it wasn’t my experience. Of course it is a struggle, it is tough. It is really challenging financially and everyone takes a financial hit when they become a single mum. It can be lonely. It can be really tough bearing the emotional load of bringing up your kids. So many things are challenging but the upside, I think, far outweigh that.
One of the things a lot of women talked about from my interviews with single mothers is the autonomy they experience. When you are a single mum, you get to make the decisions for your kids. You don’t have anyone else intervening. You get to set the temperament of your home like a thermostat, and you get to control that thermostat. That’s not to be taken for granted. If you have another adult at home, even if you get on with them, you’ve still got someone else intervening. You get to bond with your kids without any distractions or without anyone else demanding your time. Many single mums talk about the great connection they have with their children. Being a single mum is an opportunity to grow and evolve and step up as a woman and as a mother and have this blank slate to create your future.
I can guarantee that if you are a single mum you have been through some kind of destruction in your life and I divide the book into sections – instruction, reset and creation. There’s an invitation to go within and work on yourself.
Robyn: It’s a brilliant book and resource for parents and chance to be inspired by other mothers who share their experiencing of being a single parent.
Jacinta: That was my intention – Thank you Robyn.
About Jacinta Tynan
Jacinta Tynan is one of Australia’s most experienced news presenters and journalists, most recently with Sky News Australia. As well as presenting live, rolling news, Jacinta created, produced and hosted ‘Change Makers’, interviewing people and organisations making a positive difference.
Jacinta is also a columnist with Sunday Life magazine and contributes to various other publications including SMH and Escape. She’s a popular and engaging MC and speaker and has also made regular guest appearances on programs including Today and Sunrise.
She has published four books including Mother Zen – described as a manifesto of modern motherhood – and Some Girls Do..My Life as a Teenager, an anthology of some of Australia’s top female authors writing the true story of their adolescence.