According to U.S. census bureau as of 2009, there are around 13.7 millions single parents in the United States alone. These parents are managing to raise around 21.8 million children – which in case you are wondering is 1/4th of all the children in the United States. This means that 1 out of every 4 children is being raised in a single parent household. Of these households, around 87% of them are headed up by one of the most powerful, level headed and adept people on earth. A single mom.
So who is she? And what does she look like? Is she from a fledgling class of people living in the scums? How hard is her life and how in the world does she do it, especially considering that 87% of all custodial single moms are raising more than one child and working? Does she own a home, or a car? The truth is that one of the greatest misconceptions of single mothers is that they have all fell victim to inadequate birth control or that they live healthily off government assistance. In fact, most of them are just like any other mom – working adults who own both a car and a home, who just happen to be doing it on their own. And doing it well!
And most of them (46% to be exact) were once married, with the other 34% of them never have been married. The average age of single moms in the United States is 39 years of age, which seems to signify that these moms are mature enough to know what they are doing. Surprisingly, (perhaps not) only around 19% of all single mothers ever decide to give marriage another go. Instead, they are brave and able to raise their children on their own. Another important statistic to realize is that around 80% of all single mothers are employed. The Census Bureau describes these employed single mothers as ‘gainfully’ employed which means they are able to support themselves and their children without the need for government assistance. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be – after all we are talking about moms here. There are only an estimated 22% of single mom households that live at or below the poverty line, which seems to indicate that single moms will do whatever it takes, to ensure that they raise and support their children.
For many people who are raising kids with a spouse, the thought of doing it alone causes chill bumps and nausea. When you can barely get your kid to school on time and yourself to work on time, how do they do it without another adult to help them? Not to speak of how expensive raising children is? And these women do it all on their own? They are able to get ‘bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan,” as well as pay the bills, get the kids to doctors appointments and sporting events, and parent in a nurturing and loving environment that seems to have no adverse affects on a child’s long term development. Interestingly a recent study out of the University of Maryland seems to prove that children raised in happy, stable single mom households produced children that were more adjusted than those living in homes of unhappily married couples. The study also indicated that children raised by a single mom versus by an unhappy couple were less likely to do drugs, drink alcohol and experienced better scores on standardized testing. This makes it seem like staying together for the children isn’t such a good idea after all!
Let’s be honest. A mom is a pretty incredible creature. But a single mom, well she is just exceptional. As time goes on and we evolve as a society, the picture of the single mom is changing and her face is one that definitely has the capacity to change the world, one child at a time. There isn’t just a laundry list of things that single mom must do every day, but a laundry list of people she must be as well. Of single moms raising children, there are an estimated 69% who have little to no contact with the fathers and who do not collect child support regularly. This means that mom has to also be dad, and do her best at providing the balance of both male and female influence in her household. All while she is away from the home working.
Just because she is a single mom doesn’t mean that she gets a free pass. Her kids are held to the same expectation as any other child and so is she. The New York Times ran a poll trying to find out the secret to being a successful single mom and found that the number one quality of single moms is happiness. The poll surveyed both married and unmarried mothers. The conclusions in a world that seems to idolize and idealize the family unit touches on issues first outwardly introduced in the 1980’s with shows like Murphy Brown. All the moms polled agreed that money was the biggest down fall to being a single parent. However, the moms also agreed that not having a spouse around can sometimes make the task of parenting easier. And as opposed to mothers in unhappy relationships, single mothers are able to spend all of their spare time focusing on just the children and the best ways to make their individual family unit work.
Consider that single mothers are able to utilize their time giving to their children, rather than trying to find the balance between giving to their spouses and their children. Not having some one to argue with, being able to make decisions on your own, and having the freedom to parent as you see fit can go miles in making life easier. Most single moms are able to form very powerful and meaningful relationships with other moms that enable them to find perhaps better support, than married moms may get with their spouses. And for most single moms, they still have ample amounts of family and friends who are willing and able to take the kids when the need arises.
Being a single mom is definitely hard. When you only have you to depend on to make ends meet and to dry tears or give spoonfuls of medication to sick children, you can feel like the world rests on your shoulders. And it does. The efforts of single moms should be applauded, especially since many families barely make it with two adults. Yet the denominator that seems to enable them to hold it all together, besides the amazing female spirit, is happiness. And single moms; seem to know how to optimize both.