Single parents - abandoned by society

The sun shines through the windows of the old building. Shiny chrome chairs stand on the wood floor. On the walls hang acrylic paintings in red and pink - and the image of a fat brown horse. "That's what my daughter painted." Nicole Lübbe, 30 years old and managing director of a Cologne advertising company, takes the picture in the hand. Actually, she could smile contentedly, she has her Sophie and an interesting job. "I've had a huge problem for nine years," says Nicole Lübbe. "I am a single parent."

Her daughter was four months old when her relationship broke up. Since then, Nicole Lübbe strikes solo with Sophie. It's a struggle to take care of her daughter, with daycare centers that close at 4:00 pm, with au pair girls who quit their jobs overnight, with schools that simply send children home when a teacher gets sick is. It's a fight with bosses who like to see employees at their desk by eight or send them on business without announcement, even if a child is waiting at home. It's a constant worry to somehow steal time for Sophie, for a dinner together, for an hour of cuddling and narrating. And always a guilty conscience, because always something comes too short. In the first years as an advertiser, she has collapsed several times because of the stress. In the hospital, Nicole Lübbe woke up again. "I thought about leaving Germany for a while, because the situation for single parents is so difficult here."

A trendy district in the west of Hamburg. Galleries, jewelery stores, restaurants in Gründerzeit buildings. In a quiet side street a simple cube, social housing, on the third floor Katja Schepanskis * home. Felix * enters the door, his corduroy jacket flies to the wardrobe. The mother strokes his head: "Felix is ​​the best I have." It is hard to endure only this feeling of growing up in poverty. The brooding when the twelve-year-old needs a gift for a birthday party. Or his jacket disappeared at school. , , Since Felix was born, the small family has been living at subsistence level. This tugs at the forces, that damages the dignity. "Yes, we feel bad," confesses the 33-year-old, a teacher by profession. Now, after deducting the costs of rent, electricity and monthly pass, she still has around 500 euros to live. This amount has a name: Hartz IV.

Being a single parent is no longer a rarity in Germany. 2.2 million single mothers raise their children without a partner. One in five families with children consists of only one parent, 87 percent of whom are women. 17 percent of all children aged between three and twelve live in a very small family, according to a study by World Vision on the situation of children in Germany. In major cities, half of the children in some elementary schools are from single-parent families. And there are more and more. Since 1996, the number of single parents in West Germany has increased by 25 percent. Almost everyone has something in common: they have many problems - and they are left alone with their problems.

Katja Schepanski has actually done everything right since she moved out with her parents. She completed a social year after school, then attended a teacher training college and worked in various kindergartens. Only that she got her son at the age of 21 and that her boyfriend was too self-absorbed to want a child has catapulted her to the brink of society. When Felix was eight months old, she took him to the childminder to finish her education. Still, she never got a steady job. Interviews said: "Who watches if the child is ill?" With temporary jobs and part-time work, she has worked her way through, with supplementary social assistance and housing allowance.

Katja Schepanski is not an isolated case. "Single parents are discriminated against by employers," notes Christoph Butterwegge, political scientist at the University of Cologne. "Their applications are sorted out by hiring managers, and they're among the first to lose their jobs when a company gets into trouble." Single-parent families are also hardly benefiting from the boom in the economy, according to poverty researcher Butterwegge. Half of all lone parents are repeatedly hit by unemployment, and 24 percent are only marginally employed, according to another explosive result of the World Vision children's study. "Even well-educated women can not find work or have short-term jobs far below their qualifications," says Martina Krahl from the association "Selbsthilfe-Initiatives Einzelinerziehender" (SHIA) in Berlin.How bad it is about the chances of these mothers in the labor market, also shows a study of the institute for employment and occupational research of the Federal Employment Agency:

After that, single parents usually spend much longer than Hartz IV as childless. There is a lack of social infrastructure, which ensures the care of children, Heinrich Alt, board member of the Federal Employment Agency. The consequences for mothers and their children are devastating. The poverty rate of single parents is more than three times higher than the national average, almost 40 percent are at risk of poverty: in one-parent families four out of ten children are destitute, in families with two adults it is only four out of every 100. "Child poverty is mother poverty", says expert Christoph Butterwegge. A scandal barely noticed by the public. "I feel invisible," says Katja Schepanski. "Probably because we work somehow."

After her last breakdown, Nicole Lübbe had begun to think about how to escape the "cruel pressure" from "How do I get my job done?" and "Will I come home in time?" or "Where can Sophie stay tonight?". Three years ago, she started working as a freelancer, and since a year she owns her own company with eight employees. After all, she can now decide for herself when to go on business trips and whether she does her work in the office or at home when the daughter is asleep. Still, your life remains difficult.

The advertiser would like to talk to Ursula von der Leyen. "Well," she would then tell the family minister, "that you have guaranteed a guaranteed care for toddlers, but what good is that for my nine-year-old? Where is the hoard whose opening hours are consistent with the hours of work of an advertiser? help bridge the 12 weeks school holidays? " Nicole Lübbe is frustrated: "Germany is an absolute developing country."

Many single parents have made the decision to separate themselves from the partner or to have a child, even though there is no reliable father to do so. Almost everyone says, "It's harder than I thought." Peggi Liebisch, Managing Director of the Association of Single Mothers and Fathers, knows: "The first two years are the hardest." After that, most women have become accustomed to solving the daily demands alone. And they have learned to do without. To a friend because there is no time and energy left for a relationship. On a nice apartment, on vacation, on cinema or restaurant visits, because the money is not enough. Lack of money, lack of time, lack of energy, lack of men. And always a guilty conscience. Actually, it is a burden to raise children without a partner in this society. But the women manage, somehow. At a high price.

"The worst part," says Anne Egerer *, "is the weekends, when I get so gloomy. Then I hope that my daughter grows up quickly and life begins again. "Anne Egerer lives in a village in Bavaria - 4000 inhabitants, a parish church with splendidly carved choir stalls, houses with sweeping roofs, surrounded by forest, on the horizon the mountains. For eight and a half years she lives alone with her now nine-year-old daughter Corinna. * Anne Egerer is a foreign body between the father-mother-child families in the village, she struggles with loneliness.Also at work it is difficult, it is the classic story: No child care, no decent job In geriatric nursing, her skilled job with shifts around the clock, she can not work anymore - she has to be home when her daughter comes home from school.

Anne Egerer works as a family helper on demand, when a mother is ill and needs support in the home. She earns about 450 Euros net, she is just getting by with the divorced man for Corinna and the housing allowance. "How did I earn that?", The 47-year-old sometimes wonders when the hunger for carefree hours, for friends, for life rises in her. She tries to keep her daughter from showing her despondency - she wants to be a good mother.

No wonder that the pressure on solo mothers can lead to a mental crisis. "Single parents are twice as likely to be affected by mental illness as married women," says Gudrun Neises, a doctor and professor of health management at the European School Fresenius. Almost one in four single parents will eventually find it in their lives - especially depression, but also anxiety or sleep disorders women then suffer.

With sometimes fatal consequences for the offspring. One can hardly pronounce that, because it gives traditionalistic prejudices fodder: those who think, well, there you see it again, only in a real family, the offspring is in good hands. And: Only when the father is there and limits the children, they become capable members of society.

In fact, the sad truth is that one-parent families, left alone by society, have more problems to deal with. And so sometimes they are simply overwhelmed."Children single parents have a significantly increased risk of behavioral disorder," says Matthias Franz, professor of psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy at the University of Dusseldorf, which deals with the situation of children in single parent families.

If a mother feels permanently at the end of her daily life, she may find it difficult to comfort the little ones, to calm them down, to give them warmth and understanding. Of course children feel that. Girls then often hide in themselves, boys become aggressive, both suffer from concentration and learning disabilities. Children and adolescents from single-parent families, moreover, have twice as often problems with alcohol and three times more often with drug problems, according to Swedish researchers. Boys are more noticeable than girls.

For heaven's sake, some single mother may think. Do I have to plague myself with such worries and feelings of guilt for the daily grind? Expert Franz calms down: "A child growing up in a one-parent family does not have to be damaged. Decisive is the relationship quality between mother and child. "

And that is what most single parents give everything. Like Katja Schepanski. She has chosen a good school for her son, registered him in a football club - for herself she finds sport too expensive. Adventure birthdays in the park, DVD evenings for Felix and his friends, Katja Schepanski keeps thinking up activities that cost little. The bad times have welded mother and son together.

But there are also situations or phases in which a mother can simply feel overwhelmed. No longer able to make all important decisions on its own. For this reason, psychology professor Matthias Franz founded the Palm Project in North Rhine-Westphalia: a program in which single mothers find tailor-made help during the crisis. Parent training is offered in day care centers, it comprises 20 sessions. The women learn to kick back. So that they find to their children and to themselves. A model that could make school: "We achieve very positive and sustainable effects," says Matthias Franz.

And what about the fathers? Of course, there are men who take care of their children. And there are good PRs for a few who want to take care of their children, but are prevented from being ex-members. The fact is: half of the children finally lose their father one year after the separation. The contact breaks off. Even financially there is little support: Two-thirds of all divorced fathers can not or do not want to pay. "If you have children, a separation is a life issue," says Nina Petri. The actress has been solo mother for ten years. Her twin daughters Moema and Papoula, 13, see her father ten days a month, as the court has determined. "Of course, the children should have contact with their father," she says. But that's difficult to organize if you reject each other. The actress has complicated working hours, the ex was never ready to "adjust" his childhood days to their professional situation. That makes bitter, especially since he pays a penny for the children. "The mental stress is the most difficult," admits Nina Petri, "in addition to the complicated everyday life."

When parents mix personal hurt and financial strife with the question of caring for the children, it becomes tragic. To avoid this, it would be important to accompany parents in the separation phase, says Bettina Eichblatt, head of a parent school in Hamburg-Osdorf. The social worker - herself a single mother - offers counseling in the parents' school, which helps women and men to clarify feelings, to develop an understanding of the children and to take responsibility. "If a couple manages to get through the break, it increases the chances that the father will maintain good contact with the children."

After all, something has changed: raising children without a partner is no longer a problem. And more and more women fight back. Filomena Iannacone, ex-partner of TV star Gedeon Burkhard and mother of his three-year-old daughter, has publicly released steam. She was furious that the actor sold himself on television and in magazines as a loving father, but only appears very sporadically in the life of his daughter. The mother of Gloria, the illegitimate daughter of CSU politician Markus Söder, complained in an interview that dad only spends a few hours every three or four months with his little one. And Horst Seehofer's longtime secret mistress has confidently ventured out into the open with her baby.

In the middle of society, however, single parents have not yet arrived. "The state is still fixed on the model of the male breadwinner," says political scientist Christoph Butterwegge. This is especially striking when looking at the tax system. Single parents are taxed almost like singles."If a single mother of two small children earns less than € 1400 gross, it is not worth the job," said OECD economist Herwig Immervoll - taxes, social security contributions and childcare costs are too high. Even if a single mother with two small children earns more, it hardly pays to work: With a gross salary of 2300 euros, she has around 230 euros more in her wallet than if she were living on state support. No wonder that two thirds of single parents are dissatisfied with their life situation, as social scientists Dagmar Brand and Veronika Hammer have discovered. One-parent families are the culmination of a chain of discrimination and discrimination against women and children.

"We have to create a social climate in which parenting and gainful employment do not seem to be the opposite," says Anneli Rülling, a scientist at the Institute for Social Science Transfer in Berlin. Until then, especially solo mothers need a lot of energy and support to keep their heads up - and certainly to get to the top.

Sabine Becker is one who has made it. She has been mayor of Meersburg on Lake Constance for three years. For her daughters Nuria, 11, and Noelle, 10, she is still there. "A show of strength," says the 42-year-old, "but I'm flexible in my job." The lawyer organizes her appointments around her children, is almost always at home for breakfast and lunch and often takes her daughters on weekend appointments. But without a network that would not work: the mother and a friend take care of the children, otherwise 14-hour days would not be too bad. She wishes she could make a difference in the five years she still lives in Meersburg - as a mayor and as a single parent. "I hope I can signal," says Sabine Becker. A sign that it will be better for all single mothers.

What does the everyday life of a single parent look like? Ten mothers report

Marion Hulverscheidt, 34, doctor and scientist, and Antonia, 7: "I had to give up my dream job as a researcher, a scientific career in Germany means temporary contracts and poor pay, and now I'm back to work as a doctor, with fixed hours and better incomes."


Nina Petri, actress, and the twins Moema and Papoula, 13: "Of course, the children should have contact with their father, but that's difficult to organize, if you reject each other." The mental stress is the hardest thing - besides the complicated everyday life. "


Nadine Keller, 32, nurse and student, and Leosch, 3: "It strikes me to switch constantly: earning money as a nurse, exams during my studies, and in the kindergarten, for example, the son has just bored a handkerchief into his nose, so let it all go, quickly with him to the doctor . . ."


© Imago

Gaby Köster, 46, Comedian, Donald, 14: If I do not have my mother, then I have a real problem, she comes when I'm performing, and I drive home almost every night, even from Berlin to Cologne And when I'm free, I'm shut up at nine in the evening. "


Rebecca Reinhard, 31, lives from Hartz IV, Jana, 10: "Because I could not work full time, I lost my job as a hotelier two years ago, the result was a total collapse, I had to be hospitalized and I'm still in therapy but stable again." My biggest concern is that my child is under There are many single parents with similar problems, but unfortunately this is a big taboo, and it needs help for them. "

Gonca Hoyraz, 21, student, and Berkay, 2: "I would like to have my own flat for myself and my son, and at the moment we are living in a 2.5-room apartment with my parents and my brother, and Berkay and I will receive a 125 Euro advance and our child allowance."


Michaela Steffan, 42, software engineer, Philip, 18, and Patricia, 15: "During my application phase, I received many cancellations without any justification, and I felt that my marital status was playing a role, and fortunately, I now have a good job."


Monika Fischer, 46, home director, Marc, 16, and Viola, 11: "A compulsory all-day school, in which the homework is made reasonable, would be great, because only then would all children have the same conditions."


Kerstin Müller, 44, member of parliament and foreign policy spokeswoman of the Greens, Franka, 1: "My problem is especially the time, because as a politician, I usually 60 hours of full power required.Also, I commute, always with Franka, between my constituency of Cologne and the Bundestag in Berlin, despite Kita-Platz and nanny in Berlin sowei It is only possible to organize a great effort of the grandparents in Cologne with a lot of strength, but despite all this - living together as a couple is wonderful and Franka is very lucky. "


Yasemin Akcaglar, 35, Hartz IV, Keanu, 5 months: "My son was born heart disease, and recently the hole in his heart had to be shut down in an emergency operation.I sat alone with my fear in the hospital and then at home in front of the phone. I wished that someone would hug me and comfort me. "

Protest: Our letter to Ursula von der Leyen!

A letter to the Minister of Family Affairs on behalf of 2.2 million women

Do not forget, Frau von der Leyen!

Money worries, lack of time, loneliness, problems with childcare and bad chances in the job market: Single parents have to fight in all areas of life. They are let down by the state. Their children are suffering with them. For more justice and equal opportunities, we demand: CARE, SUPPORT Especially for single parents: Germany finally needs additional offers child care - even outside normal opening hours.

MONEY Tax relief: The puny tax-free allowance of 1308 euros must be increased to 7664 euros a year (corresponding to the basic allowance of a married couple with a sole earner). - Maintenance: Fathers who do not pay must be more firmly prosecuted and punished. - Qualification: Single mothers need free offers for re-entry and professional development.

RESPECT - Helpful neighborhood: more housing projects need public funding. - Counseling during the crisis: Consulting services, also online, need to be expanded. 6146 women signed this letter. How Ursula von der Leyen reacted to the demands, read here.

Dossier Talk: And what did you experience?

Do you as a single parent also feel abandoned by society? Discuss with other ChroniquesDuVasteMonde readers in the Forum Dossier TalkUrsula von der Leyen: "Alone ... (567678)

Jordan Peterson - Growing Up in a Fatherless Home (June 2021).

Germany, Berlin, Cologne, Hartz IV, Ursula von der Leyen, Crisis, Federal Employment Agency, West Germany, Social Assistance, Bavaria, single parenting, children, parents, mother, father