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Problems Often Experienced by Single Mothers and their Children

Updated on July 30, 2015
mackyi profile image

I.W is from a family of 11. Thus, he finds himself having to help raise not only his own Son and Step-Children, but also Nieces and Nephews.

Picture of life of a single parent
Picture of life of a single parent | Source

Living single is possibly a choice that allows many women in our society greater freedom in general. However, when children are involved, there is no doubt that single parenting comes with its share of risks and disadvantages.

According to a 1992 Children Defense Funds report, only 10% of American's dual parents families have incomes below the poverty line, but 50% of all homes run by single women live in poverty. If a mother did not complete her high school education, the probability that the family income will be below the poverty level is almost 90%.

Based on other findings, children who were brought up in poverty, in a home headed only by a mother, are at risk in several different ways. It's believed that the absence of a father lowers a family's social status as well as its economic status. Housing is likely to be crowded and frequent relocation or changes in residence are also common occurrence.

In the majority of these homes, meals may be meager and nutritionally poor. Due to inadequate or unavailability of health coverage, proper medical care may also be lacking. Also, the women who are the head of these households are usually psychologically distressed as a result of their struggle for survival. Many are plagued by depression or anxiety, which interferes with their ability to be supportive and attentive parents.

One author believes that children who are brought up in these homes may be placed at a disadvantage in a number of ways that affect both their psychological health and their intellectual development. As a result, they are less likely than other children to better their socioeconomic status during their adult stage of life. They are also more likely to become single parents themselves. Thus the problems are often passed on to the next generation.

Recent studies have attempted to identify the factors that can break the cycle of depression and hopelessness that characterize some low-income single parent homes. Researchers have discovered for example, that when mothers in a single-parent home were employed at a job they like, their children had greater sense of family organization and togetherness than children whose mothers did not work. Another finding was that working single mothers had a particularly strong impact on their daughters, who placed greater emphasis on independence and family achievement and had better grades than the daughters of a single-parent mother who didn't work.

Studies found that economic hardships affect a mother's psychological functioning, affecting her ability to be an effective parent and to have a positive mother-child relationship. The women in these studies have shown symptoms of depression when they were unemployed, and when they were depressed, they have the tendency to punish their children more frequently. In turn, children who received punishment on a regular basis showed greater signs of cognitive distress and depression. When children surmise their families were experiencing severe economic hardship, they reported greater anxiety, cognitive distress, and lower self-esteem compared to children who have not been through similar hardship.


Although the decision to live alone may not be an outright bad idea for some people, especially those who are childless, or even mothers who are financially stable. For the economic disadvantaged single individuals, single parenting poises greater risks and the disadvantages are numerous for the children and the mother alike, who is often left with the responsibility of head of household.

(C) Copyright : I. mcFarlane 2012


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    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      You are welcome dallas93444.Thanks for reading. It's always a pleasure sharing information I think others including yourself might find interesting.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Thanks for your informative article. Your attention to details are appreciated. You have created a desire to learn more. Thanks for sharing this.


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