Challenges Single Moms Face
Abstract The purpose of this paper is to inform our society of the significant challenges single mom face. Raising children in this era is a very difficult task for couples and it brings greater challenges when is done by a single parent. This paper explores the emotional, psychological and financial aspect of raising children as a single mom as well as the main reasons why. It will review the causes and consequences in which it affects children, parents and entire families.
There is data that has been collected where it indicates the reasons why there has been an increase and the impact that it has on children and adolescents. There are ways single moms overcome challenges.
II. Introduction to Challenges Single Mom Face
According to DeBell( 2008), about half of American children will spend part of their childhood in a single- parent family. DeBell stated that the absence of a father in a child’s home, the most consequential trend of our time, leads to social disaster(Pg.
427). Goldenberg (2008), states that a dysfunctional family, by definition, has failed to fulfill its purpose of nurturing the growth of its members. Single-parent families are more common in today’s society and are usually referred to as a broken home or dysfunctional families. Single-parent families have doubled since 1970 and are rapidly increasing. According the U.S. Census Bureau, around 30% of American families are headed by only one parent. There are 22 million children that live with a single parent—83% of those parents are moms. III. Types of Challenges Faced by Single Mom
a- Emotional & Psychological
A single-parent home brings negative effects on the child’s psychological and physical development. Whereas a two-parent home brings family stability by allowing each parent to play different roles during the child’s development and providing better support for them, Kelly (2003). Raising a family alone requires that one performs both the role of a father and a mother. Kombau (2000) states that fathers play the leading role in the household, as his primary responsibility is to bring the income in order to support the family. He will show his love by protecting his family, giving emotional support and guidance. The mother’s role is to nurture, care and encourage family growth. According to Kornbau (2000), researchers have identified several indicators of child well-being to test the effects of each divorce factor. Such factors include academic achievement, conduct, social relations, and psychological and emotional adjustment. Issues arise when single parents are suddenly faced with the emotional and financial responsibility of the family. Single parents go through their own emotional needs as well as being tasked to fulfill the needs of their children. A single parent usually develops a pattern of depression and must understand how to deal with their own struggles and simultaneously provide comfort for their children (Amato, 2003). As stated by Goldenberg ( 2008), Single moms, with physical custody of their children, usually deal not only with lowered economic status but also with grief, self-blame, loneliness and lack of support.
According to Amato (2000), individuals with adult divorced parents are at an increased risk of experiencing psychological problems in adulthood. He states that children of divorced parents are disadvantaged in areas of psychological adjustment, well-being, academic achievement, and behavioral health. A few studies have considered the possibility that low educational attainment or poor interpersonal skills may be associated between parental divorce and adult psychology well-being. Evidence suggests that children that grow up in single parent homes are negatively affected in the quality and stability of their intimate relationships throughout adulthood (Amato ,2000). These children show signs of higher levels of dissatisfaction and conflict in their own marriages. Amato (2000) also associated martial disruption to a weak parent-child tie in adulthood. Research shows that divorce is highly related with some lack of expression of parental affection, greater parental harshness when dealing with misbehavior, and inconsistency in providing discipline. Although divorce seems to weaken a child’s bond with both parents, studies show that consequences are stronger with the father because most children reside with the mother after a divorce (Pg. 904). A study revealed that children from broken homes tend to report a comparatively lower level of psychological well-being in adulthood. b- Financial
One of the most significant challenges single moms face is trying to make ends meet financially. Divorce is typically followed by a significant decline in the standard of living for children and the custodial parent. This will usually take place as families lose their financial stability. Mothers may earn less money and many times fathers will fail to provide adequate child support. The lack of financial solvency makes it hard for single parents to provide for their children’s resources. Researchers have found that families are often less well off financially in single- parent homes. The effects of a low-income family can include things like lower education levels and lower economic achievement. IV. Reasons for becoming Single Mom
a. Single mom’s struggle
1- Teenage Pregnancy
In 2011, Teen Pregnancy in the United States recorded a total of 329,797babies born to women aged 15–19 years, for a live birth rate of 31.3 per 1,000 women in this age group(CDC.gov). Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school drop-out rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence (CDC.gov). Young women, aged 15-20 years old, experienced emotional and social problems such as unemployment and lack of support (Tan &Quinlivan, 2006). At this age, most teens would not even have a high school degree which makes it hard for them to find a job. A Father’s role in a teenage girl’s life is very important. Teenage pregnancy is usually a result of what she has been exposed to early in family relationships such as domestic violence and divorce. Ultimately, it shows the lack of a positive role model these fathers had in their lives ( Tan &Quinlivan, 2006). As stated by Martin (2007), there are many factors that contribute to teen pregnancy besides sexual activity, such as early alcohol use and poverty. 2- In comparison to earlier times, teenage mothers today are much less likely to be married. In a high percentage of cases, mothers care for their children without the help of the father (Feldman, 2011, p. 437). We have seen a dramatic change in the structure of]the family. Single family homes in today’s society are much more common than they used to be. Becoming a single-parent, in some cases, is a choice made to avoid issues marriage tends to bring. Unfortunately, those people don’t realize the negative psychological and emotional effects that this brings. i. Divorce
1- A national panel data collected between 1980 and 1997,classified 2,008 open-ended responses to a question on why their marriages ended in divorce. Infidelity was the most commonly reported cause, followed by incompatibility, drinking or drug use, and growing apart( Amato, Tan, Priviti, 2003). They also stated that there is a greater risk of divorce in individuals who marry at younger ages than individuals that marry at older ages. These consequences are attributed to psychological immaturity and unstable employment. 2- Only around half the children in the United States spend their entire childhood living in the same household with both parents (Feldman, 2011, P. 355). People feel concerned with their own personal happiness as a driving force. If their marriage is not satisfying, they feel divorce may be the answer to seek this happiness. They also feel that they have lost feelings and romantic passion may subside over time ( Feldman, 2011, p 552). a- Dealing with the Effect of Absent-Fathers
I. In Children & Adolescents
1- Absent fathers are associated with reduced well-being: worsened health, lower academic achievement, worsened educational experiences, and less parental involvement in school activities. Based on an Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program ( n= 12,426),research shows that 28% of white students, 39% of Hispanic students, 69% of black students, and 36% overall live without their fathers ( Debell, 2008). A number of studies have documented differences between boys and girls raised in single-parent homes. Studies found that “the intellectual and social development of males may be seen as more adversely affected by living in one parent homes than that of females from similar circumstances” (p. 271). Debell (2008) reported evidence showing a correlation between absence of a father and juvenile delinquency. He also showed evidence that boys with absent fathers have a harder time forming peer relationships and long lasting heterosexual relationships when compared to boys raised in a father present home. 2- Children should be raised in two parent families because they both play an important role in their lives. Children need love from both parents in order to grow into stable emotional adults. Each parent has different characteristics, therefore each will show love for their children in different ways. A large number of research have found that fathers’ expression of nurturance, warmth, affection, support and concern are extremely important to their children’s emotional social well-being (Feldman, 2011). V. Overcoming Challenges
There are specific aspects of the divorce process that are more likely to cause difficulty for children than others. Furthermore, it would not be unreasonable to assume that if parents were aware of these factors and were able to control them, lessen their impact, or eliminate them altogether; the negative effects of divorce on children could be significantly lessened ( Kornabau, 2010).One of the most important elements in this process is that children need to feel is their mom’s unconditional love. This means separating the child from their actions, treating them with respect but exercising consequences for their misbehavior. As a single mom you would also need to address their developmental needs which will prevent future emotional issues in their life helping them resist and overcome peer-pressure. Studies indicate that socioeconomic status is positively associated with children’s psychological well-being. Educational achievementis positively related to people’s report of being happy at home and work. It also shows that education reduces the risk of depression (Kell, Emery, 2003). There is also the quality of the parent-child relationship, type of parenting provided by fathers, and amount of contact is associated with children’s adjustment. As children develop a close relationship with their fathers and the fathers are actively involved in their lives, this will lead to a positive adjustment and better academic achievement in school-age children, compared with those with less involved fathers (Amato, 2000). Understanding the importance of the level of education and income in the offspring of single–parent home in relation to the socioeconomic attainment which leads to the psychological well-being in adulthood. Mothers can be influential gatekeepers of paternal involvement through attitudes and behaviors that either facilitate or limit fathers’ opportunities to parent and develop close relationships with their children. According to the American Psychology Association, joint physical custody reported better adjustment of children compared with those in sole custody, and more satisfaction expressed by shared-custody youngsters.
A meta-analysis of 33 studies comparing joint physical and sole maternal custody from court, convenience, and school-based samples indicated that children in joint physical custody arrangements were better adjusted across multiple measures of general, behavioral, and emotional adjustment, self-esteem, family relations, and divorce-specific adjustment, Amato (2000). Overall, the empirical literature demonstrates numerous benefits to children, including better psychological and behavioral adjustment and academic achievement, when their living arrangements enable supportive and loving fathers to be actively involved in their children’s lives on a weekly and regular basis, including a combination of overnights and school-related and leisure time. Further, the vast majority of children want more contact with their nonresidential parent than is typically decided between parents or by courts, and many favor the concept of shared physical custody. As Amato (2000) stated, those children and adolescents who have lived in shared physical custody arrangements are generally satisfied, feel loved, report less feelings of loss, and do not frame their lives through the lens of parental divorce, compared with those who lived in sole custody of their mothers. When parent conflict remains intense following divorce, frequent transitions and contact may be detrimental to children. This may occur because children typically love both parents, reduced contact may not be the most beneficial solution.
When there is Joint legal custody major decisions are made by both parents (e.g., medical, education, and day care decisions), whereas with sole legal custody, one parent makes all decisions and need not consult or inform the other parent. Understanding that single moms are the main provider of the family, it will be important that they become educated and skilled in order to bring income for the family. Finances generate a great deal of stress and restrictions for the entire family. Budgeting will be essential to avoid financial problems in the future. Last but not least, a single-mom needs to be strong and confident, set plans and goals for the family. According to Martin (2008) Prevention programs have been implanted in schools curriculum to teach teens about teenage pregnancy. Sex Education for teens on abstinence has been taught as well as other programs. Developing “empowerment” support groups and setting boundaries has also been helping teens reduce teenage pregnancy, Martin (2008). There are also popular programs that are used by high schools throughout the nation called the Baby Think It Over (BTIO) program. “A computerized doll is programmed to cry and fuss intermittently throughout the day and night to educate on the realities of having a baby” (Martin, P. 258, 2008).
In this research paper, the consequences of divorce were emphasized along with the emotional, psychological and financial impact it has on the family. We learned the challenges single mom are faced with from financial struggles, child-rearing, household chores, and work. This is a hard task to carry on mainly because fully responsibility can’t be enforced to one parent only. Nevertheless, we also addressed different ways to overcome these challenges. It also examined the differences among a two parent home and a single-parent home and the importance of a father presence in a child’s life. A father’s absence will lead teens to search for love in the wrong places ending up in teenage pregnancy, ending their lives in destructive ways. We also saw that the lack of a father’s presence leads to juvenile crime and substance abuse. It was learned that parental involvement and support was essential for the child’s life development as well as the responsibility to provide and nurture unconditional love. It also examined the main cause of divorce which was infidelity and as a general rule we can say that in most cases we saw that lack of commitment was another reason why people would not stay in a marriage relationship. I strongly believe that commitment dictates the quality of relationship a person will have. Statistics showed that there are high percentages of American families headed by a single-parent and a high number of children who are currently living with single moms. It reviewed the psychological and emotional consequences it has on children throughout their adult life. Divorce brings major consequences to the entire family.
There are emotional, physical, psychological and financial elements that hinders a person’s well-being. Hence parental involvement is very important in a child’s life and is the parent’s responsibility to provide and nurture the motivational needs children have. Parenting requires a great deal of love, patience, communication, support, encouragement and teaching. When adolescents don’t have their family support, they will seek help outside of their families as an outlet to express their frustrations and obstacles that may be going on within their lives. This is a time of risk for teens, wrong choices are taken place and they most of the time dictate their future. There is also lack of wisdom in today’s youth and I believe it starts from home. Parents are seeking their own interest without thinking about their children. There are lives living without God and without a purpose. In today’s society, single moms go through stressful and painful situations. We need to understand that marriage is a covenant that takes place and it should be forever. The way God ordained a family to function has been the best pattern for us to follow, nevertheless, we still fall short and this is the time we need God more than ever. This paper relies heavily on the great consequences divorce brings to a family.
After a parent gets divorce, they realize that after everything they went through and everything they put their kids through was not worth it. In order to understand the real meaning of marriage, we need to first go to God’s word and meditate on His perfect will for us. Everything a couple goes through after they get divorce was already stated in God’s word. If we seek His word for guidance we start making better choices and living fruitful lives. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” ( Psalm 119:105 ). Our jobs as human service professionals is to help families gain self-understanding and to solve problems effectively. Many problems may be avoided when a person finds guidance and is able to think in the most logical and effective way. We are to encourage and help them with a stable adjustment process underlying the importance of commitment, relationships and maintaining a realistic understanding. To help them build healthy relationships and overcome unhealthy ones. God’s purpose for us was to be fulfilled and happy. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.”. Here we see that God created the heavens and the earth, the animals and then man. He created marriage because He cared for us and wanted us to become one and be fruitful. I pray that God’s purpose may be understood by this society.
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