Single parenting is one of the contributing factors to gender-based violence (GBV), which at times leads to murder, according to Cecilie Tjikenda, the founder of the Single Parent Support Foundation.
Tjikenda told New Era that many single parents struggle with feelings of low self worth, experience financial difficulties and wrestle with depression.
In certain cases this may drive the single parent to commit suicide or get involved in an unfruitful relationship, which may result in one partner killing the other.
“Single parenting is a huge problem in Namibia and most single parents are the youth,” Tjikenda said, adding that single parenting often stems from divorce, but also refers to cases of unmarried couples where only one parent is financially supportive and involved in the lives of the child or children.
Single parenting affects not only the single parent, but also the immediate family of the single parent, who have to give assistance in raising the child of the single parent.
Tjikenda said one major difficulty single parents face is giving up on, or losing their children, because the parent is not in a financially stable situation to care for them adequately.
“This is a normal reaction, considering that you engage the responsibilities of two people single-handedly,” Tjikenda said.
She adds that loneliness is another challenge. She said single mothers are more empowered, compared to their male counterparts because many support groups enable them to deal with parenthood.
“The Single Parenthood Support Foundation teaches and empowers single parents to be self-sustainable and responsible to be able to face and overcome challenges of life,” Tjikenda pointed out.
She noted that single parents are empowered economically through vocational training and income generating projects: “We motivate and encourage single parents that they are complete as they are and should be proud, their first task being to take care of their children.”
Although she could not provide statistics, Tjikenda who was married for 19 years before divorcing, said divorce is also a “huge problem” in Namibia.
The best way to avoid divorce is the ability to accept, appreciate and respect each other. The major causes of divorce include infidelity, identity crisis, dishonesty, alcohol abuse and irreconcilable differences, Tjikenda noted.
“In a relationship, responsibility and accountability amongst couples play an equal role in a healthy marriage,” she said.
With regard to the support services that the Single Parent Support Foundation offers, Tjikenda said there are plans to have regional coordinators in the country’s 14 regions.
The Foundation was launched last year.