Is it time to put an end to single mother myths?
You don’t have to be a single mum for long to experience societal stigmas. You may gradually notice chinks of negativity linked to your social standing. That society is designed for clichéd family units you no longer belong to. Potential employers become discriminatory. Banks and rental agencies become hesitant. Social invites dry-up and married friends slink away.
Is it that by being the female half of a relationship breakdown, we are being placed on the periphery of society? Yep, archaic single mum stereotyping is a real thing.
Yet, look at the facts; you’ll see that single mums are far from this preconceived typecast. Many single mums are remarkable women with strength, determination and capability unrivalled by any other social group.
But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s bust some single mother myths and set the record straight once and for all.
Single mother myths that are complete crap
MYTH: Single mothers are usually teenagers (or certainly in their early 20’s).
FACT: “The majority of parent’s who children alone are over 30 years old. Most have become single parents after the breakdown of a partnership. Contrary to the stereotype, less than three in every one hundred lone parent is a teenager.” – Resource: Directory of Service for Women with Children
MYTH: Single mothers are selfish for denying their children the chance to thrive in a coupled-parent home.
FACT: “When children of divorced parents have problems, often those problems started when the parents were still married. For example, researchers who followed the children of married parents for more than a decade, not knowing in advance whether the parents would stay married or divorce, found something very telling. Among those children whose parents did divorce and who had problems, sometimes their difficulties began as early as 12 years before the divorce. They were already “struggling” while their parents were married.” – Resource: Psychology Today
MYTH: Single mothers have heaps of kids, often from different fathers.
FACT: “Sole parent families are small. Contrary to the stereotype, the majority of single mothers have one child, 33% have two, 12% have three and 3% have four children or more.” – Resource: Directory of Services for Women with Children
SOME OTHER UNTRUTHS YOU MAY HAVE HEARD
MYTH: Single mothers are long-term abusers of drugs and alcohol.
FACT: “In a US national survey of substance abuse among more than 22,000 adolescents from many different kinds of households, the rate of substance abuse among the children of single parents was 5.7%. Compared to 4.5% for the children of married parents. That’s a difference of just a tad more than 1%.” – Resource: Psychology Today
MYTH: Single mothers have more children in order to receive more child support payments.
FACT: “Single mothers living on income support and those who manage on part-time wages are frequently surviving on incomes under the poverty line. Child support is of minimal assistance to children in these families as 40% of single parents receive no child support at all, and 40% of those remaining receive $5 or less per week.” – Resource: Directory of Services for Women with Children
MYTH: Single mothers are desperate to find a man and will do anything to get one.
FACT: “As per a post on the Beanstalk Facebook page, single mums were shown an image of family stickers on the back of a car (you know the ones). There was a space for the dad and a sign saying POSITION VACANT. They were asked whether the position needed filling and why. Not one single mum suggested the requirement or need for a man in their life. Dogs, lawnmowers and vibrators got a mention though!” – Resource: Beanstalk Single Mums
EVER HEARD ANY OF THESE SINGLE MOTHER MYTHS?
MYTH: Single mothers don’t exhibit a sense of family or form close bonds with their children.
FACT: “Children in single-parent families often form close bonds with their parent, as they are closely dependent on each other throughout the child’s life. Children from single-parent families may also form closer bonds with extended family members or family friends, as these people often help raise them.” – Resource: Livestrong
MYTH: Single mothers sponge money off the government for as long as possible.
FACT: “The majority of sole parents who are receiving Parenting Payment Single will spend less than three years living on income support payments. Many sole parents move off their income support when their income increases through wage or business income, or if they re-partner.” – Resource: Directory of Services for Women with Children
MYTH: Single mums don’t bring their children up as well as conventional two-parent families.
FACT: “An example comes from a study comparing adolescents in different kinds of one-parent, two-parent, and multi-generational households. The authors looked at rates of drinking, smoking, graduating from high school, and enrolling in college, as well as the age at which they first had sex. The children raised by married parents did well. But another group did just as well: children of divorced parents living in multi-generational households.” – Resource: Psychology Today
THE FINAL CRAZY MYTHS WE NEED TO DISPOSE OF
MYTH: Single mothers either can’t be bothered to work or are unemployable.
FACT: “Around half of the single parents who receive income support, also earn some income through paid work. In fact, the employment rate of single mothers is only slightly lower than that of married mums.” – Resource: Directory of Services for Women with Children
MYTH: Single mothers raise children who are lazy and irresponsible.
FACT: “According to a study at [Cornell University], children in single-parent families may exhibit strong responsibility skills, as they are often called upon to help out more with family chores and tasks.” – Resource: LiveStrong
MYTH: Single mothers are negative, depressed and bitter about their circumstances.
FACT: “Single parent families are the most financially disadvantaged families in Australia. Despite this, 94% of single mothers surveyed by the Age were optimistic about the future – higher optimism than any other group!” – Resource: Directory of Services for Women with Children
Further reading: The biggest challenges single mothers face.