The unspoken flaws of single parenting



The children of single mothers face silent and sometimes unnoticed struggles. Poverty, abuse and other factors may hinder the child as they grow into adulthood. The problem starts at home and so can the solution. Recognizing the problems these children face can help resolve them.

Jemiah Clemons, Opinions Editor

Single mothers hold an extremely respected role in society. They work hard to provide for their child or children and show their strength everyday. Several icons, celebrities, and role models come from single-parent homes. But even with the amount of respect and gratitude single mothers receive, no parent can escape criticism. Certain parental issues specifically affect the children of single parents and a large number of problems within these households go unnoticed and untalked about. 

According to the 2021 census, single mothers make up 80.5% of American households. 31% of those women fight poverty while another 28.7% face food insecurity. With the odds already stacked against them, certain aspects of parenting may fall through the cracks. For children under the age of 18, no adult in the home forces them to fend for themselves. Single moms typically work one job or more to make ends meet. Unless other family members or community members provide childcare, the children frequently provide for themselves and their siblings. This springs the children into early adulthood and emotionally hinders them.

Since several single mothers work long hours, their daughter may take on a mother-like role to the other children. Cooking, cleaning and supporting younger siblings can drain a young girl and force her into a difficult position. The daughter must now share the mother’s responsibilities and care for her siblings. This can lead young girls down the path of abuse, teen pregnancy and other unpredictable futures.

“My sister and I especially had to pick up a lot of slack around the house. Me, I learned how to cook because if one of us didn’t, we’d go with eating leftovers for three days or just going off ramen noodles. I would always miss out on the fun or always ask for rides because my mom worked multiple jobs,” senior Calise Adamopoulas said.

Race also plays a major role in this as well. Women of color (WOC) face higher rates of single motherhood than white women do. Certain laws and policies also severely hinder black single mothers. Welfare policies either do not allow males above the age of 18 in the home or will deplete the benefits a mother can receive if a man inhabits the same home. These policies help destroy the family unit and leave the mother to provide for her family alone. Considering that black people make up a large percentage of the impoverished population in the U.S., this causes further damage to the black community. 

“No one plans on becoming a single parent. I would say the biggest flaw is not having a team and a single parent is responsible for the weight of that team. There is no one helping you financially, mentally, emotionally and everything else that comes with a family,” single mother Shanti Narayan said. 

Single parenting can take an emotional toll on both the parent and child. Single mothers with sons typically fall victim to emotional incest. Medical News Today defines emotional incest as a parent or caregiver who relies on a child for the support that an adult partner would usually provide. This covert form of parental abuse frequently goes under the radar. With no man or real father figure in the home, this launches young boys into a false sense of manhood. Taking on roles such as intense housework, entering the workforce and helping to emotionally console their mothers can cause harm. The emotional reliance on a child who fits the mold of a man can warp the relationship between mothers and sons. 

As those young boys grow into men and enter relationships with a romantic partner, the man’s relationship with his mother may cause problems. Jealousy and territorial issues may arise since the man will tend to and emotionally care for someone else. The young boy whose attention used to solely go to his mother, will now split between more than one woman. Fortunately, therapy and other solutions can help people realize this issue and work to fix it. However, recognizing emotional incest must come before a potential solution. 

The issues within single-parent homes can no longer go undiscussed. The more people ignore these problems, the more children will face the dangerous consequences. While several successful people come from single-parent homes, this does not exempt them from any of these issues. As time goes on, working toward fixing these problems can diminish these flaws completely.