Areas such as Ladywood, an inner-city corner of Birmingham, are utterly dominated by single-parent families. And the effects are devastating. On arriving here, the sense of a material and emotional poverty being passed down from generation to generation is palpable.Also a sense of something else. Though she is at pains to mention that the place is home to white lower-income families, she doesn't seem to have interviewed any...
In Ladywood, relationships break down fast and frequently, leaving children to suffer the lifelong consequences of never knowing their fathers. Many of the single mothers I meet are keen to discuss their predicament. Most are clearly desperate to break the families-without-fathers cycle, but none of them seems to know how.Really? Odd. If I can see something going wrong, I'll do the opposite of what the people who are going wrong are doing. That doesn't seem to apply here.
It's almost as if there are incentives at work..
Sisters Marie Jukes, 39, and Sue Smith, 43, have a depressingly similar story. Brought up by their mother after their father walked out when they were children, Marie and Sue are now both single mothers and have seven children between them.
While Marie - who recently split up with her partner of 18 years and is now raising her five children alone - admits she longed for a father figure when she was growing up, she believes children in Ladywood are now happy in single-parent households because it has become the norm.
Indeed, she claims it would be more unusual for her children - Jamie, 17, Jodie, 15, Jack, 12, Jordan, 11, and Jayden, eight - if they did live with their father. She now works 16 hours a week as a housekeeper and claims working tax credit, child tax credits and child benefit in order to support her children.Alliteration is clearly in vogue:
Kim, who came to England from Jamaica 15 years ago, has a ten-year-old son, Tyrese, and daughters Tiffiny, five, and two-year-old Tati.I suppose it makes it easier to fill in the benefit forms...
Of course, there was a time in Britain’s recent history when single mothers proliferated, but the context couldn’t have been more different, and the children they raised grew up to be responsible, useful members of society. During the two World Wars, millions of men died in conflict and it became the norm for children to be brought up by their widowed mothers. One of the key differences then, however, was that extended families played a crucial role in raising a child: grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles united to help provide the stable family life missing for so many present-day children.There was also something else about Britain's demographic make-up then. But Yasmin doesn't want to mention it.
Ruth Haile, 33, has three children by two fathers. With neither father around to help at home, her 14-year-old son, Naeb, has become a father figure to his younger siblings. Ruth, who came to England from Eritrea in East Africa seven years ago, says she struggles to care for Naeb, Esrom, five, and three-year-old Lulia. Ruth says: ‘I was only 19 when I had Naeb, but that is normal in my country. ’You meant, ‘my former country’, surely? As we are feeding and clothing your offspring, it’s not too much to ask, is it?