VIDEO – Public school teacher Shaunté Sparks thought she knew what her family life would look like.
“Oh yeah, I was supposed to be married by 25, have a child and you know just be in a family,” Sparks said.
But things didn’t work out exactly the way she planned. She’s a single mom of 7-year-old Tin-ica, a name that stands for, “There is nothing I can’t accomplish.”
Its meaning has deep significance for Sparks who, being from a single parent home herself, is actively trying to break the cycle for her child.
“My family has had a lot of unhealthy relationships in regards to men, Sparks told theGrio at her New Jersey home. “And I’m trying to turn the curse into a blessing.”
Since 2008, more than half of all black children under the age of 18 are living in single parent households. For children of other races, the numbers are significantly less.
Single mothers often battle a common stereotype: That single parents are poor, uneducated and unemployed.
This stereotype has led single moms, like Sharon Leverett, to take action.
“I started SingleBlackParents.com to dispel some of the myths about single black households,” Leverett said. “Single black households are loving, they’re functional. Parents are doing what they have to do for their children just as much as a dual parent household.”
A single mother with a daughter attending an Ivy League school, Leverett started SingleBlackParents.com four years ago.
“It is so important to feel that there is a community there because single parents can end up feeling isolated,” Leverett said. “They need to be able to reach out whether it’s on the Internet or to read something that will inspire them or give them hope.”
This type of support system is exactly what led Shaunté Sparks to join Mocha Moms, a national support group for mothers of color.
She has also started a company called “Mother Daughter”:www.sparksinspiration.com; aimed at bridging the gap between younger and older generations of women.
“Just knowing someone’s there and they’ve been through it, and also being able to provide wisdom when needed, that’s essential,” Sparks said. “And I think everyone needs a support system.”
Though Sparks is working hard to be a good role model for her daughter, she still hopes Tin-ica will not follow the single parent path.
“When we talk futuristically for her, its, ‘Hey, when you get married and you have children,’ so I try to do it that way as opposed to ‘Okay. This is what mommy did wrong,’ because I don’t want her to focus on the negatives.”
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