Almost all parents face hardships at one time or another. However, when it comes to single parents, challenges are more frequent and come with consequences. Being alone trying to accomplish a job that was meant for two is overwhelming even to the strongest of personalities. Every single mother has their unique share of challenges, but some are common to among most of them. People have the wrong assumption that single parents are that way because they chose it. Different factors contribute to people becoming single parents, not just divorces or unplanned pregnancies as some might think. So, let’s take a look.
What makes people become single parents?
If you were to look at the statistics on single mothers, you will probably get shocked at the huge number that is out there. The data is frustrating, there are more than 13.7 million single parents in the US. These single parents are responsible for raising over 22 million children. Shocking? It then leads to the question, what makes people become single parents? Here are the reasons why.
Death of a partner
You must be familiar with this one. It’s a common reason why people become single parents. Diseases or accidents that lead to the death of one partner are inevitable, which then result in widows and widowers raising children on their own. War is also known to deprive most families of a parent. Maternal death also left most fathers raising children solo.
The separation of partners often leads to one parent being left to raise the kids alone. There is evidence that the divorce rate is at 42-45%. 60% of second marriages end in divorce. The stats also show that 22% of women have ever been divorced, while 21% of men have been divorced one or more times in their lives. The percentage of children who are in a single parent family and live with a divorced parent is 38%. In cases of legal separation, most parents seek sole custody of kids and this has resulted in a significant rise of single parents raising children. But the main question which is worth considering is how does divorce harm children?
How divorce affects children?
Children don’t take the separation of their parents lightly. There is evidence that children who have gone through a divorce, especially a messy one, are likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and emotional stress, which ultimately affects their performance in school. Children in a single parent family are also less supervised and engage in very minimal communication with their parent. As a result, such children are stigmatized and are likely to engage in alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide attempts. Divorce also make kids feel abandoned, and this leads to problems in their psychological development. Studies have also shown that children living in single-parent families have low self-esteem.
What happens if you got raped and got pregnant? Or your first sex ends up with pregnancy and the partner refuse to take part in this? And you are against abortion! It’s highly likely you will raise a fatherless child. Getting pregnant outside of wedlock is also another cause of single parenting.
Single parent adoption
50 states in the US have legalized adoption of children by a single parent. In fact, 5-10% of adoptions in the US are by single parents. In the mid 19th century it was impossible for single parents to adopt a child.
With that said, it is beyond doubt that no parents would want to raise a child on their own. There are circumstances beyond their control that deprive a family of one parent. If you found yourself a single mother, what challenges do you have to face in today’s society? Take a look.
Challenges faced by single mothers
It is obvious that an absent father will leave a gap in your life. Filling that gap can be challenging to you and your children. You will realize that you don’t have a shoulder to lean on or a helping hand. This feeling saps up your emotions as you reminisce about the good old times. In such a situation it is important to remember about your child and your own story, that you have each other, to create and maintain your personal bond.
Parenting comes with tough decisions making. Being a single mom, the pressure of making the tough calls is doubled. Hearing another person’s opinion leads to better decisions. Now that you are alone you have to decide which school is best for your kids, are they old enough for new responsibilities, and many other crucial decisions.
When you are a single parent, you might often feel self-doubt wondering how to be a better mom. This is more prevalent especially if your children start misbehaving. It is stressful and drains much of your energy trying to set the child on the right path. Ill manners are usually some of the consequences of divorce on children.
Mom life is demanding even when you have a spouse by your side. If you are a single mom, that is task overload. It’s exhausting and stressful. Your partner’s “to-do list” is now on your shoulders. You will always find one more task to do after completing one. Don’t be surprised if you started thinking that 24 hours is not enough for a day. Also, society expects you to have your eye on your kid at all times as is explained by Kim Brooks in her article ‘Motherhood in the age of fear’. If you were to do this as a parent, it would mean you had to give your job or had to hire a babysitter, which can be expensive.
Often you will find parents who have gone through broken marriages or a bitter divorce feeling guilty after the whole ordeal. They blame themselves for being impatient with their spouse, their children growing up without a father, lacking enough time to spend with the kids or your financial problems. The guilt never ends.
Single parenthood is viewed differently by various people based on their socioeconomic positions. Society, family, and friends will judge you harshly for having a broken marriage instead of offering you support. As a result, single moms, as well as single fathers, have a hard time navigating the unfamiliar journey of single parenting all by themselves. The stigma and different treatment from people close to you leads to a lack of self-confidence and worth.
Financial issues are the main challenge most single parents endure. Mom and child have to make a few sacrifices to make ends meet. It takes a lot of adjustments such as skipping that regular summer vacation, selling your car, moving to a smaller apartment, tightening the budget for shopping, and the list continues. A single mom will always opt for things that they will spend less. Getting a well-paying job when you have spent the last decade as a housewife is a challenge too. For this reason, most single-parent families live in poverty and consider it lucky if they are able to provide basic needs.
Government Assistance for Single Mothers
After you are exhausted living from hand to mouth, it’s natural to wonder if there is single parent help out there. The government has programs that can help mitigate the situation.
If you are a single mum struggling with financial problems, you don’t have to do it on your own any longer. Seek out the following non-profit programs that offer help for single moms;
- TANF – Temporary Aid for Needy Families is a federal block grant program that provides cash assistance for a period of fewer than 2 years to single parents who meet their financial criteria.
- SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federally funded program that aims at benefiting families that are struggling with providing food on the table.
- Head Start or Easy Headstart – These two programs offer childcare and job training for single parents. The program will care for your child while you are at work. In addition, if you are looking for a job, the program trains you until you qualify for the job.
- HUD – The federal department of Housing and Urban Development offers low-income earners with housing assistance. They distribute vouchers that help people who earn a low income who meet their criteria with housing that meets minimum health and safety standards.
Single parenting is not easy. If you can get some knowledge about how to take care of yourself, your children and financial problems, the better. There is a lot of information and resources out there to help struggling single mothers cope with these challenges. Becoming a single mother doesn’t have to be a nightmare experience. It can be rewarding as well. Start with accepting the situation as it is and learn how to be a single mom. Make adjustments for you and your children. Feel yourself with positive thoughts, and set on a smooth sail.
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