DARON: Ture, 34 years old, retail manager, musician

FAMILY SITUATION: Single dad of Wolf (6 years old)

Ture is a musician. He is also a shop manager, traveller, friend and single father of Wolf. His girlfriend ended their relationship a few years before. It was not unexpected. When the two were a couple, they wanted to give each other space to continue following their individual passions and they decided to take turns and alternate looking after the baby. The time they had to do things together became scarce. And when they did have time, they were often too tired to do anything. They grew apart. A few months after the split, Ture moved to a flat that he was able to buy and renovate with help from a government mortgage scheme.

His relationship with Wolf’s mum ended amicably. They do not make things difficult and they are happy for each other to have new relationships and professional challenges. Neither ever assumed that the other would not be involved. Ture and his ex continue to help and support each other where needed. It was not a bitter separation in any sense. Everything was discussed and agreed based on their son. They still go to parent-teacher evenings together or to important doctor’s appointments. They celebrate Wolf’s birthday together with the grandparents, the new partners and a group of common friends.

You could say that their fully-fledged co-parenthood is exceptionally smooth going. All the costs related to Wolf are shared through a joint bank account. They both deposit an equal amount every month. Part of that goes to daily expenses and a quarter is saved for clothes, presents, school materials or other big expenses. To the question of whether they thought of that system themselves? ‘No,’ Ture supposes. ‘The fact that Wolf’s mother came from a divorced family probably contributed to us arriving at this system. It works in every way. There are never any arguments at the end of the month.’

The majority of single parents do not have the option of working fewer hours to take care of their child.

Neither is it an option for Ture, although he admits he would rather earn less than do a job he does not like. In his case, flexible hours are sacred and his employer gives them to him. ‘I work less during the week that Wolf is with me and then the following week I catch up on the hours from the previous week. It means I can collect Wolf at an acceptable time and still work full-time.’ His parents step in every two weeks and look after Wolf on Saturdays and he can always ask his friends for help. ‘I don’t feel my freedom is restricted as a single dad. There are enough people around me who can help me out. When Wolf is with me, I live according to his needs. I get up and go to bed earlier, I cook and eat better. I am there for him and rehearse as little as possible.’

Ture also regularly takes leave, paid and unpaid, and he also used his parental leave to bridge a holiday and a tour with the band. Even though he could manage to live from his music with special unemployed benefits for artists, he decided to continue working. As did the other members of Amenra, the band he is part of. They chose to do so because their musical genre is quite a niche one, because most of them have young children or because they recently bought a house. Moreover, it keeps both his feet on the ground. The band members are like brothers and all real family men. There is no scheduling a concert on Father’s Day. They do not want to miss their families any more than they have to and they would rather travel at godforsaken hours than have to stay away an extra night. Not exactly what you would expect from sludge metal musicians.

‘I would maybe be a better father if I gave up my music,’ states Ture. ‘Then I would always be with Wolf and have more time to play with him. I am actually a little bit jealous of the perfect dual income families, such as my brother or my own parents, who are still together. But that is just not for me. It seems that everything is centred on the family. I am too individualistic for that. I love having my own life, separate from children and a wife. It would drive me nuts doing everything together all the time.’

Picture by Zaza Bertrand

This portrait is part of the book ‘Framily. How Millennials redesign family.’ (Rombauts & Lemaitre / Trendwolves) A nuanced portrait of a generation of young parents who are looking for distinctive and positive solutions for a better work-life balance. It also appeared in Belgian newspaper De Standaard Magazine on February 27, 2016.


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