The empowerment of single parents with vocational skills’ so they can be better equipped to take care of their family


Jeanette R. M. Marcelle

BA (Hons) HRM



Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” According to Solomon’s proverb, in other words it is better to teach an individual to do a task than do it for them. This study was done to determine the best possible way society can ‘empower single parents’ so they can be better equipped to take care of their child while uplifting themselves. Furthermore, the Author is a product of a single-parent and she thinks that education should be based on what is needed and not what we think these individuals need. In fact, one of the main findings coming out of this study is that single-parents gets themselves deeper in stress because many times, children are added to the already stressful environment. The reason this happens is in many cases the mother thinks that she needs to be with someone to get money to feed her children. Therefore, the purpose is to teach her useful life skills such as financial literacy, computer literacy, and training that would enhance her skill set. In addition, secondary data was collected by researching various countries such as India and China who has the ‘living standard security system and rights protection mechanisms’ in place to protect vulnerable groups/individuals. This research which was conducted by questionnaires’ in the county of St. Andrews, Sangre Grande. Furthermore, vulnerable groups may be defined as social groups who experience limited resources and consequent high relative risk for morbidity and premature mortality.





“Teach me, do not give me” 


On Friday 5 April 2013, First Lady Mrs. Obama referred to herself as a busy single mother and the world went mad, however, she tactful corrected herself. Moreover, what she meant is even thought her husband is around she sometimes feel like a single mom because he is busy being the leader of the free world. Unlike the single mothers who do not have a Chief of Staff and a personal assistant at their disposal. Therefore, imagine having to do it on your own.


For the pass twenty (20) years there has been a significant increase in the number of single parent household. As a single-mother “she is often forced to stand up for herself, and this is because she had no powerful peers or family to stand with her, her lack of education and her multiple children, everyone a different father makes her look as if she has been irresponsible with her life, rather than a victim or product of an unjust society. She is looked upon with scorn rather than as a cause for empathy. Her lack of education, leads her to work lower income jobs, sometimes two (2) jobs forcing her to spend less time with her children because to her it is more important to feed them and ensure they have the basic necessities.


The Purpose of the Study

The significance of this study is to determine the best possible way society can ‘empower single parents’ so they can be better equipped to take care of their child while uplifting themselves. According to Solomon’s proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Therefore, the intention is not to ‘chastise’ single mothers/parents, but rather to help them to better themselves; therefore, they children can be productive members of society and we can end this ‘vicious’ cycle.


Research Question                           

What can society do to help single parents be more equip to help themselves and their families?


Research Method

This research which was conducted by questionnaires’ in the county of St. Andrews, Sangre Grande. In fact, fifty- (50) questionnaires were given to families where one adult, (mother, father, aunt, uncle, sibling, or grandparent) headed the household with young children. Gaining a responds rate of 75 percent and a non-response rate of only two percent, the Author, felt that in no way would this affect the validity of the results.

The Main Issue

In fact, when she has to prepare breakfast, clean the house, dress each child for school, go to work, many times she is unable pick them up from school and there is no one to ensure that homework is done or to monitor the children going and comings. In many cases, the mother thinks that she get someone to help her then she can spend more time with her children and this only adds to the already stressful environment, because she thinks that in order to “keep the help around she needs to give him a child’, but then he too get up and leave… However, this is not always the case, there are some single parent who do their best to ensure they children is taken care of properly. However, based on this research and other research conducted globally, there is a high percentage of single parent who are force to depend on society for ‘handouts.’


In addition, there is the government, who usually enables the cycles of poverty rather than helping her to empower herself. Therefore, the purpose is to teach her useful life skills such as financial literacy, computer literacy, cookery, sewing, hairdressing, and nail art. In fact, instead of standing on the outside judging and saying what you would of done better; talk to her, invest some of the time and energy you used to ‘chastised’ her. Get the real picture, do not just give money, and think, “oh I just did my part to help society”, you are not helping her you are being just like the government and continuing the trend of enablement. Instead, help her with life skills that she can pass onto her children, so they too do not end up in the same situation as their mother.


Furthermore, do not force her to learn what you thinks that she needs, instead educates her based on what she needs, such as budgeting, basic business and entrepreneurial skills and training that would enhance her skill set, in addition, advice her on what schools she should send her children. Put programs in place so when she send her children to school they are properly well taught, also, if she cannot pick them up from school on time invest the resources that would help her to do this. Have a hand in what it really takes to change a life and appreciate that you have just as much to learn and receive from her as she does from you, in addition, to providing counseling and parental guidance to encouragement her to rise up above her economic or social status.


In fact, it is better to teach an individual to do a task, rather than do it for them even if it means showing them the same thing a hundredth times. In the end, “you would be very frustrated, but that individual would have learned a new skill,” think   of how good it would make you feel to help an individual with a skill they can use for the rest of their life. Being a product of a single parenting, as a child you sometimes feel the ‘burden’ of your parent fears and frustration, not only do you have to listen to them complain about the other parent not ‘pulling’ their weight, but you are also forced to grow up ‘quickly.’


Globally, single-parent family household, especially in developed countries have increased, in fact, one-quarter to one-third of families, is head by a single parent. This may be as a result of divorce which has becomes very common. Furthermore, the United States has the highest percentage of single-parent families (34% in 1998) followed by Canada (22%), Australia (20%), and Denmark (19%). However, in developing countries, divorce is not as common, but desertion, death, and imprisonment produce single-parent families, primarily headed by women (Kinnear 1999). However, rates may vary from country to country, from a low of less than 5 percent in Kuwait to a high of over 40 percent in Botswana and Barbados.

fact, women are the head of 25 percent of the household in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago. However, single mothers in Malaysia face many challenges, but those living in poverty face it even worst particularly in rural areas. In addition to the financial challenges and the responsibilities of being the sole providers for their children, the majority of single mothers lack education and specialized job skills, often accepting poorly paid jobs in unfavorable conditions. To deal with these issues, the Government of Malaysia partnered with (UNDP), in (2009), on a survey to map and address the difficulty of single mothers in that country particularly the very poor areas.

 The partnership also help build a system to register single mothers in the country, in addition, countries such as India and China who has the ‘living standard security system and rights protection mechanisms’ in place to protect vulnerable groups/individuals. This is a byproduct of reform and opening-up caused by both national development strategy choice and the social security system for vulnerable groups mainly refers to the minimal living security mechanisms. In the traditional planning economy time, people’s welfare based on their Journal workplaces or units (danwei), which means if a person was not officially employed, he or she would have no security for basic life.


Since 1990, two-thirds of teen mothers comprise of white teens and there is a huge declined among African-American, the factors contributing to teen pregnancy and childbirth has to do with lack of close contact with adult role models, peer pressure, family poverty, and insufficient sex education, especially about contraception and family planning with these ‘ingredients’ it is sometime difficult for the teen to look for opportunities of success. Not to mention most times they are very vulnerable and the individuals who should be looking out for their best interest takes advantage of them. Therefore, we as adults, the people who are given the opportunity to take care of the leaders of tomorrow and ensure they become just that need to wake up and do our jobs.


Other Related Issues

Many single moms become so competent that it is hard for them to relinquish power when they meet a mate. This can prove difficult for a new man coming into the relationship. He may feel emasculated when he attempts to do something to help her and she brashly grabs the reigns to take over. Single moms have learned how to be mother and father, and have trouble letting let go of the “father role” when a new man comes into the picture.

 Often times, the relationship a single parent has with their child is closer and more friend-like than normal (although this isn’t always the case). For this specific reason, empty nest syndrome with single parents is experienced much differently than it is for married couples or couples with a partner. Your child can become your partner in crime, your ear to bend or your shoulder to cry on as the two of you forge a place in the world together. When your child leaves for school or wherever he or she is headed, it can be as if your other half is gone. With no other half to lean on, you immediately experience a sense of loss that can be similar to a death.


For the single parent, empty nest syndrome is different than it is for a married couple. Single parents are used to caring for their children on alone, which more than likely consumes much of their time. Losing that role in life can be a bitter pill to swallow. Many single parents will offer to do their children’s laundry, make and drop off meals and otherwise remain a constant in their lives, more for the parent’s benefit than the child. There are also those mothers who ban the fathers from seeing their children for one reason or the other.


There are many cases right here in Trinidad. “Troy (real name was changed to protect participants identify) faces this morning routine daily, because a Court Order has restricted his father’s presence at the once matrimonial home, to mere twice-weekly visits. He is among thousands of boys and girls who are victims to the “single mother and father syndrome,” developing at a fast rate in Trinidad and Tobago. Is it a women-centric “mindset” of a family court system that is conspiring to cut men out of their children’s lives and deny them the best start in life.” There are those men, who want to be good dads, but feel frustrated, desperate, and voiceless. 


In a study of 700 adolescents, researchers (see reference) found that sexual activity “compared to families with two natural parents living in the home, adolescents from single-parent families have been found to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity. In addition, “teenagers living in single-parent households are more likely to abuse alcohol and at an earlier age compared to children reared in two-parent households. Also, a study of 156 victims of child sexual abuse found that the majority of the children came from disrupted or single parent homes; only 31 percent of the children lived with both biological parents. Although step-families make up only about 10 percent of all families, 27 percent of the abused children lived with either a stepfather or the mother’s boyfriend.



There are many single parents here in Trinidad and the numbers are growing. More and more people are single parents either because they choose to do so or because of the death of the other parent or most common of all, because the other parent ran off with another man or woman. While the term “vulnerability” is one of the most frequently, used terms in social science difficulties arise when it comes to applying this concept as a tool for measurement and analysis. Vulnerable groups may be defined as the social groups who experience limited resources resulting in high relative risk for morbidity and premature mortality.



Therefore, the aim is to give them more than a ‘hand out’ and discontinue the discrimination that is throw out at these individual. Being a single mother or father is not a contagious disease that you will catch if they ‘sneeze’ on you. In fact, in some instances, it happens or it’s a choice by the said individual. Therefore, fellow speakers lets come together and lend our support in helping these individuals to continue to be productive members of society.




Source: Bavina Sookdeo (Single Parenting, no easy job) Thursday, June 23 (2005)

Source: Central Statistical Office

  Source E. Kamarck, William Galston, Putting Children First, Progressive Policy Inst. (1990)


Source: Carol W. Metzler, et al. “The Social Context for Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescents,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 17 (1994).


Source: F. Furstenberg, A. Cherlin, Divided Families. Harvard Univ. Press. (1991).


Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center


Source: Deane Scott Berman, “Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse,” Adolescence 30 (1995) (accessed 12/3/13)

(Accessed 12/3/13) (accessed 12/3/13) (Accessed 12/3/13)

Single-Parent Families – Demographic Trends – Poverty, Family, Women, and Percent – JRank Articles (Accessed 12/3/13)





About Jeanette Marcelle

Jeanette R. M Marcelle, a multitalented young entrepreneur who holds a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing from Anglia Ruskin University, a BA (Hons) in Human Resources Management also from Anglia Ruskin University. Also a graduated of the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute, Jeanette owns and operates her private catering company Marlene Enterprise Ltd which provides catering services for Weddings, Parties and other special occasions. Notably, she is the “angel chef” who caters hundreds of lunches on Christmas Day on behalf of a charitable organization, for persons who are in need in and around Port of Spain. Jeanette has 14 years’ of experience in the culinary industry and 7 years management experience. She also has experience in implementing HACCP procedures holding certification in Food Sanitation, Safety and Microbiology from the United States Public Health. She did her industry training as a cook-trainee at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, under the first female Executive chef to hold the reins at Hilton Trinidad. Also, a three tenure with Royal Caribbean International Luxury Cruise Line, as well as working around the Caribbean and among some of the top Chefs in Trinidad and Tobago. Jeanette was a finalist in the Angostura Masters Culinary Competition in 2008 and 2010, also, a finalist in the Nestle Maggie first ever (2014) Easter bake off competition in the dessert category. Third place winner in the innovative chocolate cuisine 2015. Her style of cooking is a fusion of French, Italian and Caribbean cuisine. Among her many and varied accomplishments Jeanette has managed two retail stores, three restaurants and has been the Human Resource Assistant at an organization where she was responsible for overseeing the human resource related matters for over eighty (80) staff members. Jeanette is currently the Human Resource Manager at one of the oldest Sports apparel company. Despite her busy schedule Jeanette always finds time for outdoor activities, she is an avid nature lover and enjoys hiking, swimming and camping. She loves traveling and has visited several countries in North America and Europe. In her quiet time Jeanette spends time reading and meditating.
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