Being a single parent or having been raised by a single parent IS a stigma in India

Earlier in February, I posted a blog titled “being a single parent or having been raised by a single parent might be a stigma in India”.

A friend of mine wondered if perhaps in India, a “single parent” would be narrowly defined in society as an “unwed mother” and hence the stigma. A few days after the workshop, I wondered if my energy antenna (all good facilitators come equipped with one!) was maybe broken and I was too sensitive given that this was also my personal truth.

I got a chance to revisit these questions this week. Back again in India to run a D&I workshop for HR colleagues in Gurgaon and Hyderabad, we ran the same exercise (to find out more about the exercise, go read the other blog) with smaller groups. Same outcome (I was the only one), same energy (spike of nervous tension – though it might be a little less given the groups were smaller).

In the evening as I debriefed the workshops with my partner-in-crime (aka my co-facilitator) over a wonderful dinner of dum biryani, I asked her about it. She confirmed my energy antenna was functioning well, and that indeed it is a social stigma to be a single parent and it is also not something that is discussed openly. And even if someone else in the room was also a single parent/raised by one, he or she would not have likely decided to come out into the open.

Although divorce rates have been climbing especially in metropolitan cities in India, it is not in the psyche of the Indian culture to allow people to remain single for too long, whatever the reason. So the moment a man or a woman becomes single again (divorced or widowed), the matchmaking agencies kick back in in full force with mothers and fathers anxiously seeking another match (and a second chance) for their now divorced or widowed children. If the stars are aligned, one could be married again even as the ink from the divorce papers or on the death certificate is still drying – okay, maybe just the divorce papers.

Wow, pity the single parents and their children – even before they have had a chance to grieve, reflect, accept and re-anchor themselves after such a momentous shock to their systems, they are pushed back into the hubbub of the dating circuit, children (if any) in tow.

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