Anuszka Ransley is a single mum to three boys, not to mention two male cats and a potentially all male tank of fish. Initially she says she felt an immense pressure parenting three sons on her own, but here she tells us why it now feels like an absolute privilege.
I never imagined that I would end up a single parent. Like many of us, I had the 2.4 family dream. My Prince Charming. The perfect family life. Damn those fairy tales, romcoms and Disney movies!
The reality is that I was thrust into the world of single parenthood twice – once when my oldest boys were just three years and one year old, then again when my youngest son was only eight months old. They are now 15, 12 and 5.
How I got there isn’t really relevant to this story but my responsibility as a sole parent of three boys is, and the fact that for the majority of the time, I am both mum and dad to them. As a woman, this has been a daunting position to be in. I felt so out of my depth having not experienced being a boy or man. I wasn’t sporty. I didn’t like football. Yes, I liked Marvel and DC but was that enough to be a dad to them too?
Seeking advice from various experts, I’ve read endless blogs, articles and books on parenting boys. I’ve tried to understand the testosterone surges, the theories of the boy/girl divide, or not, depending on which school of science you are reading. The debate of nature versus nurture and all the stereotypes that dominate our society.
However, while reading Steve Biddulph’s Raising Boys book many years ago, this particular statement struck me about how I wanted to raise my boys.
“I sum it up in just two words: backbone and heart. Strong, reliable, and trustworthy, on the one side. And warm and loving as well. It’s not enough to just have one side, without the other.”
I realised that all I ever really wanted was to make sure that all of my boys felt like individuals, like they were heard and respected and that love, kindness and forgiveness are values that should be held by all. I’ve tried to teach them to communicate and to always have an open heart; people make mistakes and holding onto any hate or anger is purely destructive.
All I ever really wanted was to make sure that all of my boys felt like individuals, like they were heard and respected
I didn’t need to feel guilty that they didn’t have a male role model in their home but that actually there was a lot they could learn from living with a strong and loving mama.
The result is that – I hope – I have taught them that love is the most important value. But that boundaries matter too. That they matter. All of their individual idiosyncrasies and characteristics.
That it’s okay if relationships fail or friendships end. That there are so many life lessons that at the time seem overwhelming but actually propel us forward. That stepping out of your comfort zone is important. That not following the norm is liberating and will help you to welcome new opportunities. The importance of being strong individuals.
To embrace all of this, it doesn’t really matter if they are boys or girls. This is what I’ve learnt as a parent. It actually doesn’t matter that I have sons or daughters. It doesn’t matter if I am mum or dad or both. The values and morals that I am teaching them transcend all of this. I’m just trying to raise important and happy individuals who feel loved, safe and respected, and who offer those same values to others.
Initially Anuszka's story was first published in 2021