Read Tara Heuzé-Sarmini’s statement in Le Monde: “Let’s not stigmatise single parents”
Single-parent families, who were highlighted by the French President during the urban riots, deserve better than the caricatures to which they have been subjected. In an article published in “Le Monde”, Tara Heuzé-Sarmini, cofounder and CEO of Commune, calls on the French government to take the full measure of their difficulties and invest in fair family policies.
Statement in reply to the President of the Republic
“Leaving aside any political polemics, this statement had one merit: it brought to the fore a major social issue that is still totally invisible in the public debate – the disproportionate precariousness of these households suffering the consequences of a rigid and outdated family model.
Far from being a caricature, single parenthood has many faces and is a reality that cuts across all social classes.
The traditional framework of the nuclear family as we have known it for decades is no longer the norm and is tending to become a minority.
Families in the 21st century are many and varied. Single parenthood is just one facet of this, with a multitude of different ways of parenting.
In addition to the separations, divorces and widowhoods that immediately spring to mind when we think of “single parents”, more and more women and men are moving towards chosen single parenthood through adoption or MAP, for example.
In France alone, 2 million families are single-parent families, i.e. one family in four. In the big cities, this trend affects almost 1 in 3 families.
Of these 2 million households, 85% are headed by single mothers and 15% by single fathers.
Their potential for insecurity is much higher than average: one year after a break-up, single-parent families lose up to 24% of their standard of living; they are twice as likely to be socially excluded; and their children are 1.5 times more likely to experience difficulties at school.
Faced with these major changes, the company has been unable to adapt.
Finding housing or rehousing is an ordeal. Far from having a “room of their own”, which is essential for everyone, many single-parent families find themselves overcrowded. In systematic competition with more traditional families or couples – in both cases on two salaries – they are de facto discriminated against in access to suitable accommodation, and single parents all too often find themselves having to sleep on the sofa in the living room.
Keeping a career going is no mean feat: the impossibility of relying on a second parent, financial difficulties and the statistically much more frequent geographical distance mean that childcare arrangements are hard to find, part-time work is on the increase and working lives are dramatically affected.
Achieving a satisfactory life balance is nothing short of utopian: isolation, a lack of time to oneself, the mental burden and the lack of organisational support weigh heavily on millions of people, making their mental health a public health issue.
Let’s not cast aspersions on these mothers and fathers, let’s not fall into stigmatising caricatures, and let’s give ourselves the means to deal with the issues at their root.
Our country has often lost its way when it comes to commenting on the changing ways in which “families” are formed, multiplying indignation, fear and judgement in the face of less traditional patterns.
Isn’t it time to admit that the notion of family has changed profoundly, and to stop ranking family compositions as it is unfortunately still too often the case?
For the millions of families that make up the wealth of our country, the urgent need is to invest the necessary resources in fair family policies so that all these people have the same opportunities as others to flourish in society without being disadvantaged by opportunities that are still conditional on marital status”.
Statement by our cofounder and CEO Tara Heuzé-Sarmini, responding to the French President, published in Le Monde.