Watch: A ‘broken’ family does not mean a parenting failure

Nina Farr, a leadership coach and mother, who works with lone parents and step families, spoke in a Ted Talk about how parents raising kids single-handedly need to move beyond social labels to take charge of themselves and their child.

Farr became a single parent when her child was just 17 months old. She was also pregnant with her second child at the time. "It is no small thing when your circumstances change so much to hold on to who you believe you are. I found that I had stepped out of a social story of success and into one that reeked of failure," she recalled.

Parents and children of broken families are mostly judged by society. "We use words like "broken family" with guilt and shame and I now understand that these are not just ways of describing situations. For many people they are categories by which we segregate others into an order of worth," commented the mother-of-two.

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As a single mother, Farr was no exception but she gradually realised that nothing should make her undermine her self-worth. "I must love myself, respect myself. And it is in that responsibility that I found my authority as a parent. And I have discovered a kind of self-leadership — the ability to do what I think is right, regardless of whether anyone is watching me or not," she said.

People tend to use terms like "broken" for single parents and then put pressure on them to conform and succeed in living up to parenting standards, Farr pointed out. But they have to carry on, despite all challenges, for their child. "Security for a child lies in love and connection to an adult that cares for them...(it) means knowing that when all else disappears, love lives on and keeps them safe. And nothing is going to show them how to adventure into the world with unshakable self-belief more than following the courageous footsteps of the loving adults they live with," remarked the coach.