Who is a Single Mother?

The Many Faces of Mothering While Single

Single Mom

When I first determined that I was going to try to share my experience and acquired knowledge/wisdom with other single moms, I did some research. I Googled. I YouTubed. And I was horrified at what I found.

There were so many generalizations and unfair criticisms of single mothers on the internet, it caused me to pause. There were comments about them being irresponsible and should be avoided by men seeking a wife. I wondered if I was doing the right thing by putting myself out there. The comments by men are especially mean and nasty.

I really do suspect some of these comments came from men who were raised by an irresponsible, if not a really bad single mom.

Thefreedictionary.com states that a single mother is “a person who has a dependent child or dependent children and who is widowed, divorced, or unmarried”.

A woman and her daughtersI understand that where people come from may give them a screwed up idea of what a single mother is. However, it is certainly not fair to generalize as doing so could render your opinion wrong on every front. Yes, there are those who choose to have children without the presence of a father. And yes there are those who have children for multiple fathers — just all over the place. And I’m embarrassed to say that yes there are those who have children on their own so they can collect welfare.

But are those people in the majority?

Let’s find out.  In addition to choice, these are the other ways a woman may end up raising children solo:

1. Widowed:  –  Husband has died in a war, other accidents or as a result of illness.  About 22,000 children lost their fathers in the Vietnam war, for example. Source: Steve Hartman, Fathers lost in war, children search for answers.  The main subject of Hartman’s article went on to produce a movie —The Gold Star –about children who were left fatherless by war.

2. Divorced: What can one say about this ugly scab on families. The reasons for divorce are as diverse as the families it affects. But the result is always the same — someone is raising the children of the broken home, solo. And according to Pew Research most of the burden is left on the mother who heads 40% of household with children under 18.

3. Man-Up-and-Left: There are those mothers who are left raising their children solo because the coward who is their children’s father decided he does not want the responsibility of raising children. There is so much to be said about this here but there is too much material on this and I don’t want to stray from the subject of my post. But I must say, I know of too many women whose husbands just hopped and left, never to look back or remember that the seed of their loins is still living with his ex.

The fact remains that single motherhood is a result of many unintended consequences.  But I do acknowledge that some women are increasingly choosing to raise children solo.  However, it is unfair to assume that just because you are a single mom, you were never married to your children’s father.  Or for that matter that you are trifling and irresponsible.

I’m a single mom. I wasn’t always a single mother, though. I was married with two young children — 2 and 4 years old. ( I had a son from a previous marriage who was not living with me at the time). I came home one day and my husband had cleared out everything that was useful from our home.  He basically ransacked our home. He left me to pick up the pieces of mine and my children’s lives as well as the mountain of garbage he left in our living room.

Also, I’ve read of many mothers in developing countries raising children alone after their husband are taken by cultural war, genocide, and diseases. I can’t imagine what it’s like to raise children alone in such an environment. It is especially difficult to raise children solo where there is no familial or community support.

Consequently, single mothers need our love and support.  More than that, they need our prayer.  If not for them, for their children, at least.

Regardless of where they live, single moms give up self every day to do what two people should be doing. The majority of us suffer in silence from depression and low self-esteem. We seldom feel good enough. And often feel unwanted. We are scared and unsure of what we are doing.  Yet fear or doubt does not stop us from loving and taking care of our children, first. We tend erroneously, to neglect our health, always putting our children first.

In addition, some of these single mothers work full-time jobs while also taking care of one or more of their own parent.  Christina, in this AARP article by Angela Cortez,  is one of those single moms — taking care of her aging mother while raising three children solo.  In addition, she is also taking classes to become a Nursing Assistant.

young mother with two children on white

So for those who still have a narrow focus on what a single mother is, I say. Get a grip. Do your research and see what an enormous responsibility single mothers are tasked with. And instead of judging something you do not have a clue about, send some prayer up for the woman.

Children are people who need guidance and leadership. If you are parenting solo, your children may be missing out. But this is no time to feel guilt or shame. What happened, happened. You are doing a wonderful job with what you have. You are not alone and you shouldn’t be.

Finally, God loves single moms.  He protected Hagar when she was turned out into the wilderness with her son Ishmael.  Like Hagar, God sees YOU. (Gen. 16:13-14).

You are strong, resilient and awesome.

Hold on to that which you have and let no one take your crown” (paraphrased from the book of Relevation).

Other sources:

1. 10 This Single Wants Her Kids to Know, Huffington Post

2. The Story of My Mother, Melanie Taylor Todd, StoryCorps.me

3. Single Mom Overcomes Struggles, Daily Journal Online

4. Yes, You can be a single mom and get an MBA, Forbes.com