How do you define a single mother? While some would consider a single mother a person who takes care of her child with no assistance from the father, others would say differently. There is no strict definition of what a single mother is or isn’t, however for the sake of this article we will define a single mother as a woman who takes on the day to day responsibilities of child rearing without assistance from the father.
As a woman who was raised by a single mother, I am in constant admiration of their strength, perseverance, and their ability to make the impossible happen. Recently, many people across the world celebrated Father’s Day. During all of this, I noticed several “it’s Father’s Day, not single mother celebration day” reminders. While some of the memes and articles bordered on disrespect, a few were actually thought-provoking. When we encourage and celebrate single mothers, are we actually promoting family dysfunction? Have we become so accustomed to mothers taking responsibility, that we have slowly removed the responsibility (and importance) of father figures?
“According to the US Census Bureau out of about 12 million single parent families in 2014, more than 80% were headed by single mothers. Today, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18, (a total of about 17.4 million) are being raised without a father, and nearly half live below the poverty line.” Single mothers are more likely to struggle financially and experience economic hardships. Census data shows that black women are more likely to have children outside of marriage than any other racial group, and have the highest rate of teen pregnancies. While there is always a gray area in statistical data, these numbers are concerning, specifically for the black community. Are our children able to thrive to their full potential in these households? (U.S Census Data Table)
What about the children?
Many single mothers worry that their child will miss out or have problems later in life due to the absence of their father. Studies show that these worries may be legitimate. In some cases, young boys, are treated “rough” by their mothers to ensure that they grow up manly and less emotional. Many times sons become the “men” in their mother’s lives and are used as a source of comfort and emotional support. These things can have adverse effects and lead to emotional problems later. Boys who are raised solely by the mother are twice as likely to be incarcerated, engage in delinquent behavior, and experience behavioral and emotional issues.
Young girls raised in mother-only homes are more likely to engage in early sexual behaviors. This is largely due to less parental supervision, as the mother is working, taking care of other children, or both. Girls also struggle with issues related to self-esteem leading to attention seeking behaviors. Both sexes are at greater risk for substance and alcohol abuse.
While these issues can affect both single and two parent households, they have become more prevalent in single mom homes. I know what you’re thinking. “Well I was raised by my mom and I turned out fine.” But did we? Yes, many of us have continued to thrive despite the absence of a parent. However, I can’t help but wonder how things would have been different. Would I have avoided certain attention and situations? Would I have had fewer issues with acceptance and self-esteem?
“I don’t need him. I can raise the child myself, and besides I have family.
I admire the strength behind this statement, but one cannot ignore the shift of responsibility. If women continue to say that they will raise children without the father, how will the family unit survive? While you may not need him, your child does. It is great to have family that will help you in raising your children, but Big Momma raised her last child years ago. Step-parents are amazing (I love mine), however, most children still desire to have a successful relationship with their biological parent. In order to bring back the family unit, we must realize that children require and deserve nurturing and loving relationships with BOTH parents. Even with all of the love and attention one parent could give, it would still not be what that child deserved. As we continue to grow in love and relationships, let us strive to bring children into the best situations possible. While things happen and situations do not always go according to plan, it is important to remember that for every single mother there is a child growing up without a father. And there is nothing celebratory about that.
U.S Census Bureau Family Tables. ( 2014) Table FG20. Family Groups Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2014FG.html (2016, June 24)
U.S Census Bureau (2014) Table C2. Household Relationship and Living Arragments of Children Under 18 Years by Age and Sex, 2014. census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2014C.html
Single Mother Guide. ( 2015, June 1) Single Mother Statistics Retrieved from https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/ (2016, June 25)
National Center or Fathering. The Consequences of Fatherlesness (2015) Retrieved from http://www.fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-consequences-of-fatherlessness/ (2016, June 25)
Written by Michaela Phelps, Staff Writer, #MyGirlSaquad