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Movie Recommendations

Lights, Camera, Relax

There are many ways to relax and wind down with your kids after the end of a long week – whether that’s sports activities, cooking together, or going out for some fun activities to do around town. 

But sometimes, spending quality time right at home and watching a movie that pulls at your heartstrings is just what you need to relax. Especially if you watch something that allows you to see your family life on screen, but in a different light. An empowering light. 

TV and movies paint a narrative in our minds. The more single-parent households get a positive representation on screen, the more perceptions change. Society is so quick to label single-parent families – labels associated with pity, shame, or failure. It’s tough to live with that judgment. So sometimes, it’s nice to see a different perspective on the screen that shows how a single-parent family is still a family, a family that is empowering, powerful, and resilient. 

And let’s face it, sometimes you as a single-parent warrior need to see some inspiration on screen. So, here are our top favorites: 

  • I Am Sam

This movie is about the resilience and unconditional love of a single father who will do anything to fight for his daughter. Sam Dawson (Sean Penn) is a mentally-impaired father whose whole world is his daughter, Lucy (Dakota Fanning). Lucy is an extraordinarily gifted child, with an intellect beyond her years. When the welfare organization found out that Lucy surpassed her father’s intellect and places her in a foster home, Sam decides to use the legal system to fight to get his daughter back. This movie will make you weep – so don’t sit to watch this one without a box of tissues!


  • Erin Brockovich

Hard work, resilience. Courage. This movie, based on a true story, shows what a strong and independent force single mothers are and to what lengths they would go to balance their home and work. Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is a single mother of three and asks her lawyer (Albert Finney) for an opportunity to work at his firm. She becomes a file clerk, and uses her skills to climb up the ladder and become an essential asset to the firm, even becoming a crucial pair of eyes in a case that involves scandal and deviousness. A must-watch for an exciting ride, and to see an empowering single mama in action. 


  • Chocolat

A single mother (Juliette Binoche) and her six-year-old daughter move to a small, remote village in France to open up a chocolate shop. Through their adventure, they teach the rigid community about living life a new and sweeter way. A delightful movie about following your passions, and not allowing others’ judgements or criticism skew you from your dreams.


  • My Girl 

Harry Dultenfuss (Dan Aykroyd) is a single father who runs a funeral home. His daughter Vada (Anna Chlumsky) is a hypochondriac who constantly blames herself for the death of her mother, who died giving birth to her. The father-daughter duo live a secluded life until Harry meets a make-up expert, Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis). Vada finds it difficult to cope with a new woman in her father’s life and spends most of her time with her best friend Thomas (Macaulay Culkin) but after time, Shelly becomes just what Vada needs to overcome grief and rediscoer herself. 


  • Sleepless in Seattle

This one allows us to peek into the mind of a child with a single parent. Jonah (Ross Mallinger) tunes into a radio talk show to declare his Christmas wish of finding a new wife for his grieving father, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks). A woman named Annie (Meg Ryan), who’s listening to the radio show miles and miles away is intrigued by Jonah’s innocent wish and decides to meet Sam, even though she is already engaged. A must-see for an emotional roller coaster and a heartfelt tribute to the sensitivity and thoughtfulness of children for their single parents. 


  • The Babadook 

Be warned, this one is a horror movie, but it is still quite powerful in its message. This movie is about a grieving mother (Essie Davis) who is finding it difficult to raise her son, who is extremely energetic and full of big emotions. This movie depicts the darkness that often overcomes single parents in their plight to be both father and mother. It shows how to overcome that darkness to find your groundings and the inner strength to protect, provide, and love. 


  • Little Man Tate 

Jodie Foster stars as a single mother raising her son Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd) who is gifted beyond his years. His intelligence often ostracizes him socially. Though the story focuses more on Tate navigating his way through childhood and balancing his intelligence with the real world, it also shows how being a single mother to a gifted child can be challenging. A sweet film, and a must-see.

  • Changelling 

This is a suspenseful film about a single mother (Angelina Jolie) whose son mysteriously goes missing. When the cops “find” her son, she claims the child returned to her is not her son, and vocalizes the criminal act of the police to close a case that was never truly solved. Based on a true story, this movie will leave you restless and also show the extent a mother will go to find her son. 

  • Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a sports agent who suddenly has a moral awakening and crisis of conscience which he sends out as a company-wide memo, ending up getting him fired. He starts his own firm with single mother Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), and they both work to make dreams a reality. A heartfelt romantic comedy that is a gem of a movie. 


  • Room

This one is a bit disturbing, be warned. But this movie depicts the lengths a mother will go to protect and love her child unconditionally, no matter the circumstances. Joy (Brie Larson) is kidnapped and raped at the age of 19 by a stranger (Sean Bridgers) and is held against her will at the kidnapper’s residence. She gave birth to a son (Jacob Tremblay) who she has vowed to protect. Despite the disturbing atmosphere nd ongoing trauma, Joy makes it her living purpose to teach her son about the world, even in the small confines of a room. And gives her boy her everything, no matter the odds. 

These are a few of our favourites, stories that are meant to make us laugh, shed a tear, and be inspired to fight for what matters the most – our children. So go ahead, grab some popcorn and a blanket, and relax with a movie. 

 

What are some of your favourites?

To Heal and Grow: Book List for Single Parents

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” 

– James Baldwin

Our journeys are full and heavy with all sorts of trials and beauty entwined. Lots of hurt and healing. Joys and sadness. Losses and triumphs. And through the journey, having those we trust and love to help guide us helps the load feel a little less heavy. 

But sometimes those mentors and guides and friends come in the form of paper and ink. Books help us in so many ways – guiding us with stories of triumph, advice, a good laugh. A place to run to. A mentor to lean on. 

Being a single parent is tough – so we created a list of books for you to help guide you through this incredible journey of triumph and resilience. You are not alone. 

Here are our recommendations: 

When author Emma Johnson’s marriage ended, she was pregnant and alone with a toddler. And had no financial assistance. She was lost and was fumbling to find guidance, resources, tips – anything to navigate this new chapter of her life as a single working mother. But she soon discovered, there was not much out there. Rather than keeping her findings to herself in her journey, she started a popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com to connect to other women who wanted this new chapter of single motherhood to be not only about survival but about living happily. And living well. In this book, Johnson advises women how to build a career, achieve financial independence, and be willing and ready to look for another partner in life – all while being an amazing caregiver to their kids. Learn how to build your self-esteem, ignore the haters, and be the best version of yourself. This book is a must-read for all single mothers who want to not only survive but thrive. 

Single parents often worry about how to raise resilient, confident, happy children. But know that you are enough. Your love, your devotion to your children and your mentorship is all they need to thrive. That being said, having a helping hand assist you in this journey through sage advice and wisdom is helpful. This book is a great way to introduce mindful parenting – how to raise kind children without the authoritative, rules and consequence -driven model that children are so used to that only encourages fear and anxiety. 

This book encourages how to use mindful parenting so children understand why they make the choices they do, rather than because mom said so, otherwise I’ll be in trouble. Because the former is long-term parenting, while the second option is fear-based – which only works short-term. Dive into this book and begin your journey to mindful parenting today, to raise kind and confident kids. Even as a single parent. 

On the road to being a single parent, there are many ups and downs. Sometimes all we need is a little pick-me-up, a few sentences of sage advice to give us hope in this journey. 

Look no further – this book will give you just the little pieces of advice and wisdom you need to thrive in this new role of being a single mother. 

This book is a delight in the sense that it empowers single parents by helping them realize that by taking care of themselves first, they are taking care of their children in the process too. This book gives tips on proper selfcare, and to not feel guilty by doing so. You and your children will both thank you for living well and living happily. 

Emotional recovery takes time. The healing process is a journey, and it helps to hear stories of recovery from others. Those who fell and rose. Those who fell and got back up again. Those who fell and found a new light. 

In this book, each patient goes through their own traumas as they go through a period of self-reflection, perseverance, and forgiveness.  Each story is moving, deep, and comical – a realistic portrays of a look into the therapist’s office and how the process can heal all sorts of wounds. 

This book is great for those who are still struggling to find themselves after the loss of a partner- whether that loss was through death, or through divorce, it is painful nonetheless and each journey has its own recovery process. 

Single dads are often unrepresented when it comes to single parenthood – and though they are not as common as single moms, their struggle is real. Being a dad is challenging enough when you have a partner, but when you’re both caretaker and caregiver, it is a lot to handle. This book will help all the single dads out there how to provide emotional and physical support to your kids. You’ll find useful tips on tending to your daughter’s unique needs, your sons struggles, and even how to ask your trusted friends to help with the load. This book will give you practical advice, make you laugh, and make you realize the awesome dad you are is more than enough for your kids. 

 

So go ahead – curl up and grab that book and let the words of wisdom help you in this journey of single parenthood. You are more than enough for your kids. Let these books be a part of the village you and your family need to get through all the ups and downs. Enjoy!

Reducing the Negative Effects of Divorce on Children

Although parents in conflict are dealing with heightened emotions and stresses, they think they do not reflect this on their children. Children notice everything and are affected. This can create a negative impact on their psyche and their lives. 

 The conflict between parents can cause mental health problems for the children, such as depression, anxiety, social introversion, and aggressive behaviour. Children with divorced families are most likely to go through mental health issues because they have so much to worry about, even after the divorce has taken place and the conflict isn’t as heated. The children have bigger problems than stable two-parent home children will ever understand. For instance, they may think about whether both parents will attend special events, such as birthdays, holidays and school activities.

It is an undeniable fact that divorce causes worry and anxiety in the child. They may experience many emotions such as guilt, abandonment, being unwanted and unloved.  The first reaction they usually have is a sense of guilt brought about by the thought: “they are going to divorce because of me.” This thought is inevitable, especially for children who witness the arguments of their parents. This is where open communication is essential to preserve the mental and psychological stability of the children. The reason for the divorce should be shared appropriately so that the children do not feel guilty and carry the guilt throughout their childhood and even adult life – affecting their future relationships. 

More or less, all children are affected by their parent’s divorce but how it is communicated, when it is communicated, and who communicates it is very important. . Children should not learn about the decision to divorce during a discussion. Or they should not hear about it from someone other than his parents. It is the parents’ responsibility and the parents’ responsibility alone to explain the decision to their children in a calm and respectful way. They should not degrade the other parent in the process – so that children do not have a bias and can have a healthy relationship with both parents. Open communication will allow children to also share their thoughts and allow them to express their feelings freely to overcome their grief and confusion

After the divorce, try your best not to change the city or school where the children live, at least until the rest of the school year. Changing the environment may increase insecurity and anxiety for children, and also cause them to show negative behaviours.This is not suitable for all cases, but it should be taken into account to avoid the feeling of loss and unfamiliarity. Their common support groups, friends and teachers, may even help the children get through this period with stability as they navigate through this transition.

If it is not possible to stay in the same city, then discuss with your children openly about the new transition and change so they do not feel alone. Keep their support systems intact, even through phone calls, so that they do not feel insecurity. Use the opportunity to explain to your children the concept of a fresh start and a clean slate, so that they can also view the change in a positive light rather than a daunting one.

Even if the parents are separated, a joint decision should be taken on issues related to the children. Parents should ignore their personal conflicts and focus on who they are responsible for first. They should adjust their behaviour during and after the divorce by considering the future of the child.

One of the things that make everything even more complicated is when parents exhibit competition with one other by fulfilling every wish of their children. Parenting roles do not change after parents decide to separate. Do not use the divorce as an opportunity to be petty and use ego as your guide to be the “favourite parent.” By buying your children’s favour, you are letting go of your parental responsibility. In other words, parents still need to prepare their children for the future and provide the necessary tools for this. When the children see that everything they want, they get, they can use this as a trump card. This will not build resilience in them and prepare them for the ups and downs of life. Parents should maintain their attitudes towards their children in a balanced and democratic manner, even after divorce.

Also extremely important, parents should not talk badly about each other in front of children and force their children to take sides. Even if they are very angry with each other, they should not forget that their children love both parents equally and do not want to lose any of them. Maintaining a relationship with both parents is developmentally healthy for children – robbing them of this will be detrimental to their social and emotional well-being. 

Last but not least, children should grow up listening to their family’s good stories and happy moments as much as possible. Believe it or not, they need to hear and know that their parents loved each other once, and had a good time. The children need to know that the decision to be together and be separate was a thoughtful, wise decision that was the betterment for the children and for themselves – and is a decision that brought their family closer together without tension or bitter arguments. Then they can accept the reality that they want to go separate ways in their lives. Building this resiliency and emotional maturity in your children must be modelled before and during conflicts, so children are equipped no matter what the circumstances. Communication is key. 

Single Moms & The Importance of Having a Support System

Parenting is a sacred and demanding journey, whether you are a mother or a father. It can be one of the toughest, yet also one of the sweetest transitions in life. It is a transition that requires one to take full responsibility for the survival and growth of a dependent being. This heavy responsibility is a lot of pressure in some cases and can make significant life changes for the parents.

Let’s talk about mothers. Starting from pregnancy and throughout the entire journey, being a mother is very challenging physically, emotionally and mentally. What helps lessen the pressure and the weight of the changes is having a partner who supports you throughout the process. Having someone special who is there in sickness and in health makes everything a lot easier. But what about single mothers? Don’t they need a support system as well? How do they cope with stress? How do they manage their lives? How do they act as two people in one body?

Not having a shoulder to lean on in time of need is very hard. 

Single moms must deal with physical difficulties and emotional stress all alone. Trying to overcome all these burdens alone makes parenting even more challenging. This quote perfectly sums up the life of a single mother: “Being a single mother is twice the work, twice the stress, and twice the tears, but also twice the hugs, twice the love, and twice the pride.”

Even if they break into a thousand pieces, they have ONE good reason to begin again those little smiles. But that does not mean they have to deal with everything alone. Single mothers should have a healthy support system to pick those broken pieces up and never be afraid to start all over again.

Although they may not have a partner to raise their children with, mothers can still thrive and be mentally strong with an uplifting support system around them. The support system will allow mothers to have an extra set of hands to pick up the pieces. It will also help mothers build emotional strength which will in turn increase overall physical health. The first rule of being a single mom is making sure you are the best version of yourself. It is okay to ask for help as a single mom. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; on the contrary, it is a sign of pure humanness. We are all vulnerable in various ways; only some of us can dare to show this vulnerability because society has taught us not to talk about our flaws since we were children. Vulnerability is strength. Being honest and opening your heart fully to other people makes you brave, but it does require a lot of awareness.

It is always good to receive sympathy, compassion and understanding for situations beyond our control. Do not let your pride get in the way. If the mother is happy, she can make her children happy; if the children are happy, the mother is happy. It is a cycle. Your kids do not want a perfect mom they want a happy mom.

There are many things that single moms go through that two-parent families will never fully understand or experience. Unfortunately, that is why people can be so cruel sometimes. Society can make single mothers feel like they are less of a person. They even use the term dysfunctional family to describe single-parent families. The judgement that single mothers face may cause them to isolate themselves from people – lessening their ability to seek help and support. 

If you are a single mother, please utilize your support system and ask for help. Your support system could be your family, friends or colleagues. Find support from other single moms as well. Or maybe, you are not a single mom but you know someone, but you may think these moms struggle only financially, and you can’t do much, however, don’t forget that there are some things money can’t buy, like healthy connections. No matter how tough they look on the outside, many of them are just as fragile on the inside. Be compassionate. Be kind. Show care. Be a good listener. Be someone she can trust.

Why Affordable Childcare Is an Economic Justice Issue

It’s a dilemma that many working parents face — scale back their career ambitions to focus on being a parent, or work hard and, ideally, increase their earning power. More money means a more comfortable life, especially if you’re a one-income family. On the other hand, working more means more time away from home. And if you can’t rely on family to care for your kids, that means paying for daycare or nannying.

Part of the reason economists speak about a cycle of poverty is that almost all of the steps one can take to get out of it have a downside. For many single parents in the developed world, that downside is the high cost of childcare. If your work is precarious, or if you’re in a low-income position, often it’s cheaper to stay home — which means relying on government assistance or other forms of external support.

Do the Math

In Toronto, Canada, the average cost of daycare is over $1700/month. While subsidies are available, what parent — let alone a single parent — has the time and energy to research them, do the paperwork, gather the documentation and submit it to the appropriate offices? Add to that the fact that many subsidized daycares have long waiting lists, and it’s easy to see why childcare services are out of reach for many.

The high cost of childcare and the barriers to access — in Toronto and other major cities — reinforces the cycle of poverty many single parents face.

Who’s to Blame?

It’s easy to want to look for a scapegoat in the high cost of childcare, but the answers aren’t so simple. Domestic workers deserve to be paid fairly for their labour — indeed, many are not — and most parents would agree that facilities that care for children should be well-regulated to ensure a standard of quality and care.

Rather than trying to look for someone who is profiting unduly from the cost of childcare, let’s instead consider the benefits of treating daycare as a public service, like we do schooling or healthcare.

Why Cities Should Make Daycare Accessible to All

Access to no-cost or affordable daycare empowers single parents to make changes — whether it’s going back to school or simply putting in more hours — that can improve their situation in the long run. And if those changes lead to fewer people relying on public assistance, it’s an investment that’s worth it in the big picture.

It’s not just parents’ careers that benefit. Children in full-time daycare enjoy safe, supervised socialization with other kids their age. Before they can start school, daycare provides structure to young kids’ lives, helping them learn rules and adopt routines that reduce parents’ stress.

Getting Help Now

The fight for affordable childcare is a work in progress, but if you need help now, contact One Parent. We help single parents find childcare solutions and navigate the complex process of applying for subsidies. Contact our head office to speak with an intake worker today.

Started from the Bottom — Drake’s Rise from a Single Parent Home to the Top of the Pop Charts

Few musicians today can claim the level of commercial success and cultural significance that Drake has. The rapper, whose most recent album, 2018’s Scorpion, broke single-day streaming records on Apple Music and Spotify, has been a presence on the pop charts since the release of his 2008 mixtape, So Far Gone.

Drake’s autobiographical lyrics have led to considerable interest in his upbringing and personal life. By this point, Drake’s story is well known — raised primarily by a single mother, he first came to fame as a cast member of the TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation before dedicating himself to music.

A Rough Start in a Rich Neighbourhood

Every great rapper has a rags-to-riches origin story and Drake is no exception. Drake spent his earliest years on Weston Road, a low-income area in Toronto, Canada. Despite a move to the more affluent Forest Hill neighborhood, the rapper’s childhood was anything but comfortable. “I grew up with a mom who was deep in debt because she wanted best for family,” he told CBC in 2013.

Most of the anecdotes about Drake’s early years focus on his contentious relationship with his dad, who moved back the US when the rapper’s parents divorced. Often overlooked are the sacrifices his mom, Sandi Graham, made — just one example of how society undervalues the labor of single parents.

Sandi Graham is one of many single moms who have struggled to do better for their kids. Even as an English teacher, making ends meet with a single paycheque was a challenge. As Drake said, Sandi “was willing to live far beyond her means for her family.”

Working to Avoid the Mistakes of the Past

“Of course, as life takes shape and teaches you your own lessons, I end up in this situation where I don’t have the fairytale,” Drake told LeBron James on his HBO show, The Shop. When news of the rapper’s son, Adonis, leaked to the world in summer 2018, it appeared Drake was repeating the patterns of his parents — a carefree musician leaves a child behind, leaving the mother to do all the work.

But the reality was somewhat more nuanced. Drake has spoken openly about the steps he’s taking as a single father to avoid some of the pain he experienced: “I don’t have any desire for him to not love his mother. I don’t ever want the world to be angry at his mother […] I’m just really excited to be a great father.”

Of course, being a millionaire rapper makes all of this a lot easier. But for many who grow up with absent parents, the emotional damage leaves scars that are as significant as any financial hardship.

The Importance of Self-Reflection

Unfortunately, mental health and self-care are both things that single parents rarely have time to prioritize. By being open and honest about his own struggles, Drake is showing a willingness to grow in a difficult situation — and recognizing when and how he can break the cycle that caused him pain.