Managing Alone: Single Parenthood and Silver Linings in the Time of COVID-19


  • Martha Toscano Joya


The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. It has been a hundred years since a pandemic of this scale – of devastation and interference – has struck the global community with expansive social, economic, political, and cultural ramifications. Despite the medical and technological advancements of our time, the COVID-19 pandemic has immobilized modern society in unprecedented ways. There was no viable cure when it first struck, healthcare systems were on the brink of exhaustion, death toll skyrocketed, widespread closures amassed, and supply-chain scarcities marked the first months of the pandemic. We are still grappling with the implications of this moment in history.

My study focuses on the implications of the pandemic on single parents, arguably an understudied demographic group. My findings, based on 5 in-depth interviews with single parents suggest that the pandemic has been a double-edged sword – on the one hand, it has pushed single parents to the brink as they juggled rigorous parenting duties while shouldering work responsibilities. Yet, surprisingly on the other hand, single parents also found priceless moments of time that brought forth joy in those uninterrupted moments spent together with their children. The government’s assistance schemes (e.g., expanding EBT, rent moratorium, hot school packed lunches) that were put into effect in the first months of the pandemic sustained them through the worst forms of precarity.