Single Parent Families

When Barry’s mother was killed an his dad was wrongly accused of the murder and put in prison, Barry was taken in by Joe West. Barry was best friends with his daughter, Iris, and they remain best friends throughout their lives. They even end up becoming lovers and Barry proposes to Iris, which is kind of weird because they were basically like brother and sister growing up, but I guess it is okay because they really love each other… It still a little weird though, but the main point of this page is to talk about Joe. Joe raised both Iris and Barry by himself, because he had to end his relationship with Iris’s mother due to a very bad drug issue that she had. So, Joe was left alone to complete the task that takes two people, and on top of that was given another child to raise because of the tragedies that Barry faced. This difficult challenge affects not only Joe but also the children that he must raise, and this issue is extremely prominent throughout much of the television series and can be seen more often in today’s society.

Joe teaches Barry and Iris about fighting.
Joe mentoring Barry and Iris about fighting.

Even though that drug abuse is hinted to and mentioned in the show, it is not shown enough to explore the affects it has on the family in this particular show. The more protruding issue that can be viewed in The Flash is that of single-parenting. Single-parenting has been a serious problem and challenge throughout all of history, and it seems to only be getting worse as time goes on. “Of the world’s 2.3 billion children 14 percent – or 320 million – are living in single-parent households, most often headed by single mothers” (Chamie 1). The numbers for children being raised in a single-parent household are enormous, making it apparent that it is very much a serious problem for many families today. I have seen and experienced the challenges of living in a single-parent household first-hand and can easily say that it is one of the most difficult jobs that a parent can have in the world. My father raised my brother and I on his own after my mother passed when we were young, and it was heartbreaking to see how much trouble he had to go through in raising us, but he did it and did it the best he could because that is the love and compassion that a single parent has. Much alike my father, Joe shows the same compassion and care for both Iris and Barry in the show. Although the struggles that single parents face economically are not displayed much in this show, the emotional toll and affects of single-parenting can be greatly seen in the behaviors of Iris, Barry, Wally, Joe.

For the purpose of analyzing how single-parenting affects family members in The Flash, this page will only look at the effects it has on Barry and Joe. When Barry was young and still grieving over the tragic death of his mother, he felt as though he did not belong anywhere and did not like living with Joe. He always wanted the idea of a perfect, happy family, and children in single-parent families constantly struggle with the reality that their family will never be as real as it once was. Due to this, Barry constantly scuffled with Joe and said that he was “not his real dad”, because he just wanted to go back to how things were with his real family. This also must have been hard on Joe because he was doing his best to raise his own daughter, let alone raising another child who has gone through such misfortunes at a young age who really disliked him. The affect that single-parenting has on the emotional and mental state of the parent can be seen when Barry creates an alternate timeline to live and be with both his parents. Due to altering the original timeline and saving his mother, Barry changed everything and everyone else around him. Joe was negatively affected in the alternate timeline and is found drunk. Many times when dealing with single parents, the pressures and difficulties that they face are often too much for them and they end up giving up the kid or turning to very poor methods of coping such as drug and alcohol abuse. In this case, Joe becomes an alcoholic and drinks himself to sleep everyday because of the issues that he had went through when being a single parent. Both the child (or children) and the adult are greatly affected by living in a single-parent household, but with the right parenting and a strong bond among them can greatly help them overcome such a hardship. “They (children and adolescents) need a trusted parent they can depend on, protection from trauma, routines, firm and loving limits, help to solve their problems, and encouragement to learn” (Healey 25).

Barry and Joe hugging.
Barry and Joe displaying their unbreakable bond.

Despite the many problems that Barry and Joe may deal with in different parts of the show, they really get along very well and show an unbreakable bond. This is due to the relationship that Joe built with Barry when he took him in and raised him as a single parent. He made sure that he built trust with Barry and protected him during a time of great trauma, which led to them becoming best friends and family for life. This shows that even though being a single parent and living in a single-parent household may be some of the most challenging tasks in the world, with the right parenting and cooperation, it can be done and may even build stronger relationships than any nuclear family would ever have.