Being a single parent is a reality that many people live with and know all too well. As a single parent, it can be challenging to make the dynamics of your home function.
Many single mothers must face difficult financial circumstances, social stigmas, and barriers as they do their best to raise children singlehandedly.
While there are high numbers of single mothers in the United States, not many people understand the true nature of single parenthood and the challenges single mothers face every day.
Although it’s difficult for some to relate to the realities of single motherhood, it remains a prevalent topic. Uncovering the data behind single motherhood and its causes can help the masses understand the subject better.
If you’d like to understand single-motherhood in greater detail, here are some facts you should be aware of and how they affect society’s grander scope.
Table of Contents
- How Many Women Are Single Mothers In 2022?
- Costs of Single Motherhood
- Single Motherhood and Poverty
- Social Stigmas Surrounding Single Motherhood
- Healthcare and Single Motherhood
- Demographics of Single Motherhood
- Age and Single Motherhood
- Where Do The Most Single Mothers Live In the U.S?
- Helping Single Mothers
How Many Women Are Single Mothers In 2022?
Many children in the United States come from single-parent households. In 2021 more than 80 percent of all single-parent families were headed by a single mother out of over 11 million homes.
Not only is single motherhood common, but it has quickly become the new norm.
Two factors serve as the primary causes of single motherhood. Divorce accounts for a large percentage of single-parent homes in the United States. Mothers are often designated as primary custodians of their children after a marriage dissolves, leaving them to bear the brunt of child-rearing responsibilities.
The other primary cause of single motherhood in the United States is out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Approximately 52 percent of single mothers in the United States have never been married. Unwed mothers often carry the responsibility of raising their children for many reasons, which may include
- Financial security
- Or abandonment from the other party
Costs of Single Motherhood
If asked, any parent will gladly tell you how expensive raising a child can be. Raising children can cost parents an average of $10,000 each year. In addition to its financial implications, there are societal costs that single mothers must live with daily.
For instance, 40 percent of single mothers have jobs with inadequate wages and little time off. Factors like these are hard on single mothers who wish to move up in the corporate world because they have to make the difficult choice of sacrificing their career aspirations for their children or vice versa. In many cases, single mothers put their career goals on hold to
- Spend more time with their children
- Reduce their stress levels
- Maintain some freedom to take care of sick children if need be.
Single mothers have to make other difficult choices which can include where they live, finding childcare, and having time to participate in social activities.
Single Motherhood and Poverty
Single-Motherhood can, at times, be a precursor to financial strain. For instance, the average annual salary for a single mother in the United States hovers just around $53,000, whereas the annual average wage for a single father is just under $84,000.
Salary stagnation, rising costs, and general child-rearing expenses can take a toll on many single mothers.
Nearly 29% percent of single mothers in the United States live beneath the poverty line. This can make day-to-day living a struggle and force single mothers to rely on public assistance programs such as food stamps to help bridge the gap when their income falls short.
Also, single mothers are twice as likely as single fathers to become impoverished.
Social Stigmas Surrounding Single Motherhood
Unfortunately, society can be unforgiving to single mothers. Many single mothers feel ostracized for the decisions they make because, in the eyes of others, they are viewed as working too hard when trying to provide for their children or not working hard enough when they must depend on supplemental income.
Single mothers who have had their children out of wedlock endure these judgments and face criticism for not having them in a traditional family setting.
Healthcare and Single Motherhood
Having access to quality healthcare remains a struggle for many single mothers. Although the Affordable Care Act has helped some, it doesn’t ultimately bridge the gap, as nearly 14% of single mothers don’t have health insurance.
Access to quality healthcare is essential to day-to-day life, and not having healthcare can be dangerous.
Also, as single mothers consider options such as employer-provided health insurance, it can cause them to make the difficult choice of settling for less coverage for themselves if it means that their children can receive healthcare. Sometimes, more extensive healthcare options can be too costly for single mothers forcing them to test the market and try to purchase a plan that way.
If this approach doesn’t work, single mothers can try other avenues, including
- The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Short-term health Insurance
- Using their parent’s health insurance (If younger than 26 years old)
Demographics of Single Motherhood
Some demographics experience higher instances of single motherhood than others. For instance, white women represent the highest percentage of single mothers among ethnic groups in the U.S at 40%, followed by black women at 30%, Hispanic women at 24%, and Asian women at 3%.
There is a disparity in how single motherhood affects children in different ethnic groups and can increase the likelihood of being raised in a one-parent home. African American and American Indian children have a 64% and 52% chance of being raised in a single-parent home, respectively, but the likelihood of growing up in a single-parent home is lower among White and Asian children at 24% and 15%, respectively.
Age and Single Motherhood
How old you are can also contribute to the likelihood of becoming a single mother. According to the U.S census in 2021, many single mothers fall between the ages of 18-29. Being a young single mother can have an impact on education prospects as well as contribute to higher instances of poverty
Where Do The Most Single Mothers Live In the U.S?
Location can also be a contributor to single motherhood. According to the CDC, Mississippi has the highest number of births to unmarried women at nearly 56%.
This can be due to factors such as socioeconomic backgrounds and policies in the state that disproportionately affect certain groups.
Helping Single Mothers
Single motherhood is a challenge that many women have had to overcome. There have been steps to help single mothers, but there is a long way to go.
One significant step in the right direction includes closing the wage gap in the workplace. By closing the wage gap, single mothers can have more access to meeting their basic needs and the needs of their children and not have to make sacrifices in other areas.
Some employers are trying to help with the issue by assisting with one of a single mother’s most pressing needs: Having affordable childcare. Some have tried to incentivize mothers by providing childcare stipends to help parents deal with childcare costs.
One survey suggests that 39% of single mothers had access to affordable childcare, making it a challenge to be a working parent. Although childcare stipends haven’t been adopted by all organizations yet, they are a lifeline for those that have access to it.
Single mothers face many challenges, and most overcome many barriers to meet the needs of their children. While there have been some small steps taken to try to help, there is still a great deal of work to do to close the gap.