Single Mothering: Challenging and Herotic

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The traditional American family is pictured as a two parent household made up of a mother and father. Times have changed and families are anything but traditional. In fact according to the U.S Census Bureau, there were 11.7 million single parents living with their children in 2010. Of these, 9.9 million were single mothers and 1.8 million were single fathers. (Commerce) These facts may be astonishing to some, and a cold reality to others. While there are undoubtedly many challenges and difficulties raising children single-handedly for both parties whether it is a single father or a single mother, there exists a strong, unfair judgment against single mothers that single fathers aren’t faced with. Single fathering is indeed a noteworthy duty, but this essay will focus solely on the specific challenges of single mothering. There are many biased and harsh criticisms that exist for single mothers. A quick Google search on “Single Mothers” will pull up numerous websites dedicated to educating society about the dangers of single mothers. Although not everyone in America will use their spare time creating anti-single mother websites and spreading ridiculous lies about whom single mothers are, there is still an underlying belief that single motherhood is wrong and immoral. A Pew Research Center poll on family structures reports that nearly 7 in 10 Americans think single mothers are a “bad thing for society.” (Roiphe) Living the life of a single mother will mean that you will be up against 218,114,341 people in this country who don’t agree with your lifestyle. That means that more people are accepting of interracial and gay relationships than they are of single mothers. What is it about single motherhood that creates such animosity among our culture? Many people will say that insecure people are the first to judge or that hurt people hurt people. Rich Moran, Senior Editor of the Pew Research Center puts forth a few reasons for these results on NPR news: “…people who study family dynamics have some answers. The big one is that people know single mothers. And they read about single motherhood, and they see the consequences of it…Then they look at things like gay couples, and they see children being raised by loving parents, financially secure. When they look at the outcomes of single motherhood, you know, they see increase in drop-out rate, increase in poverty and an increase in children who go - who have their first child before 20 without being married.” What it comes down to is people see negative results from what they believe is caused my single mothering and thereby associate brokenness, poverty, teen pregnancy, lack of education, and etc. with single mothers. What people fail to realize is that single mothers cannot be fit into a one-size fits all box. There are many different types of single mothers just as there are many different types of Latinos or Africans. To place this judgment on single mothers is unfair and ignorant. There are many varying reasons why a woman becomes a single mother; some of which you might not expect. It would be nearly impossible to list all of the various types of circumstances and situations that have led a woman to becoming a single mother. However, there are several general circumstances that can be named. Countless women become single mothers when their boyfriend or sexual partner decides to bail when she becomes pregnant. These women hadn’t planned on becoming single moms and most likely had high hopes of marriage or long-lasting relationships. Then there are the numerous women who do marry their boyfriend or lover and have children during their marriage. At some point, for whatever reason, the marriage doesn’t last and a divorce takes place. These women now join the categorized “single mother” stigma. There are women who have fled domestic violence situations to protect herself and her children, thereby choosing single motherhood inadvertently. Widowers living with children are single...
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