The topic of single parenting is often controversial in the modern world, which is caused by disagreements between the supporters and opponents of such a family union. However, earlier this issue was raised to attract public attention to this topic, but today this type of family is quite a regular phenomenon in some countries and US states. The choice to bring up a child or even children independently looks rather ambiguous for many people, both from the moral principles of society and the family. Nevertheless, there are not only drawbacks but also some benefits for mothers who live without husbands and raise their children themselves.
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Demographic Makeup of Single Parenting
If you look at statistical data that shows the percentage of single women, you can see that the tendency to form an official relationship with men is becoming more popular today. According to Caumont (2013), the situation in America has changed radically since the 1960s, and now it is known that more than 40% of single women have never been married. Previously, the percentage of those women who did not have husbands was about 4%. Furthermore, the number of single women who divorced or became widowed was 82% half a century ago, and now this figure is 50% (Caumont, 2013). This information proves that society is changing its views, and opinions maybe even more different after the next ten years. Therefore, the time difference plays quite an important role in the perception of the situation.
However, the data of the statistics presented can hardly be regarded as the complete agreement of all the people with the fact that single parenting is the norm. Meir, Musick, Flood, and Dunifon (2016) claim that mothers feel both the joys and strains of raising children. Possible difficulties in the process of upbringing are partially compensated by the joy of motherhood. Nevertheless, the level of satisfaction with the life of mothers without husbands is lower compared to married women or single girls who do not have children (Ifcher & Zarghamee, 2014).
Disadvantages of Single Parenting
It is possible to single out several points of view about why single parenting is considered stressful and tiresome. The multiple responsibilities of a single mother are not limited to her professional activities. Laukkanen, Ojansuu, Tolvanen, Alatupa, and Aunola (2014) note that the weariness of women affects the behavior of their children. Many parents in this situation experience chronic fatigue, physical and emotional exhaustion. When a child grows up, his attitude towards the mother becomes more critical. However, this situation can be affected by two people in full families, and there may be disagreement and conflicts between the mother and the child in an incomplete family.
Another drawback that women face when raising children alone is the lack of time to take care of themselves. Quite often, a girl who has remained with her son or daughter by herself due to a particular situation forgets about her interests and focuses entirely on the child. Perhaps, there is also a positive moment here, but if a woman continues to lead such a way of life long enough, she has almost no chance to find a decent man (Ifcher & Zarghamee, 2014). However, it is rather difficult to remain feminine when work and household duties take away all free time and energy.
Benefits of Single Parenting
Among the benefits that single mothers acquire is their independence. These women, as a rule, work and are attracted not only by the opportunity to earn money on their own. They experience both material and moral satisfaction from their work. Elliot, Powell, and Brenton (2015) note that most women with low incomes perform their parental functions even without significant social support. Children begin to have notable respect for their mothers if they see that their only parent has achieved career successes. Besides, boys and girls whose single parent works usually have a broader idea of the place of a woman in society.
Having received a negative experience in the relationship with a man, a woman can raise a child and prevent her son or daughter from making crucial mistakes in family life. The relationships between a mother and her children become more trusting and sincere in single-parent families. Moreover, there is no absolute need for a single mother to raise a child completely without male influence. With the help of relatives and friends, a woman can always find an authoritative person for her child who will show by his example what a man can be. The necessity to bring up her child independently makes a woman stronger and helps her to understand which of the people that surround her are ready to come to the rescue in a difficult moment and provide support. Laukkanen et al. (2014) remark that children’s low positivity is influenced by weak maternal affection, thus, if a woman loves her child, the microclimate in the family will be favorable. The argument in favor of this type of relationship is that a woman does not need a man beside her to feel that her child is not deprived of attention.
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General Assessment of Single Parenting
The most convincing argument against single parenting is probably the idea that it is better for a child to grow up in a full family when he or she feels the love and attention of both parents since childhood. Based on social values, a family cell is a single whole; as Meir et al. (2016) note, it is hard for one parent to cope with the task that sometimes even two parents can not perform well. Although many people mark this form of the family as the deliberate choice of a woman, it is hardly possible to consider the goal of upbringing children alone as something worthwhile. The government provides cash grants to single women with sons and daughters, but they are usually not enough to justify the sacrifices mothers make (Elliot et al., 2015).
At the same time, the right to bring up children without any censure from society should be afforded to the families of this form. Quite often, women are compelled to cope with all the family responsibilities unwillingly. Compared with other non-traditional family unions, an incomplete family does not look like anything extraordinary and is increasingly perceived as something familiar. Therefore, it can be assumed that such unions should not be limited in any rights; it is better and more correct to help them and be aware of the difficulties that single women often face.
Thus, single parenting may be described as a family that has not only drawbacks but also some benefits, which can be determined according to the interpretation of particular nuances of such unions. Any deviation from the norm is perceived by society very cautiously, but mothers who live without husbands and raise their children themselves often cope with their tasks not worse than in full families. The increase in the number of households with a female parent who has never been married can be due to a change in social stereotypes and differences in the perception of the family and its values.
Caumont, A. (2013). More of today’s single mothers have never been married. Pew Research Center.
Elliot, S., Powell, R., & Brenton, J. (2015). Being a good mom: Low-income, black single mothers negotiate intensive mothering. Journal of Family Issues, 36(3), 351-370.
Ifcher, J., & Zarghamee, H. (2014). The happiness of single mothers: Evidence from the general social survey. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(5), 1219-1238.
Laukkanen, J., Ojansuu, U., Tolvanen, A., Alatupa, S., & Aunola, K. (2014). Child’s difficult temperament and mothers’ parenting styles. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(2), 312-323.
Meir, A., Musick. K., Flood, S., & Dunifon, N. (2016). Mothering experiences: How single parenthood and employment structure the emotional valence of parenting. Demography, 53(3), 649-674.