I recently just completed my research paper I’m to submit for my undergraduate degree. Yeah, I know you can guess my topic; ‘Psycho-social Impact of Counseling on Single Mothers’ (I’ll post it here at a later time). To speak the truth, this was the best research I’ve ever undertaken. I mean, there are tonnes of stuff we never really see and come to appreciate as a society, especially when the topic is ‘single mothers’. From previous research to news reports, I sat down and reconsidered my point of view. I mean, I had to appreciate everything my mother goes through just to get food on the table.
May 10th, 2015, we celebrated Mother’s Day and everyone went on and on about how their mother was the best. Then, I saw a post on Facebook that almost sent me down to tears; someone criticizing; going on and on about how single mothers shouldn’t be recognized. I don’t know how my mother would have reacted if I ever showed that to her. I sat and thought about the guy who wrote the post and prayed that God forgives him because at least for him, he has a father figure in the house, a mother who never had to strain on her own to provide for them, sisters he was sure would never be single mothers, and a girlfriend he would always be there for. One thing he forgot to think about before writing such a post was the fact that people become single mothers due to various reasons; widowhood being one of them.
What we fail to see are the tears behind every smile single mothers put, the marks and pain they have in their bodies because they had to do the impossible to give their children a comfortable life, the scars in their hearts they wish could heal and the desire they may have to be given a helping hand by a man but fail to do so because of the psychological torture they go through to introduce another man to their children.
“Don’t judge me if you don’t know me.” Ever heard of that? We tend to criticize and fail to appreciate the efforts single mothers put to give their kids a stable family and a normal life as any other child from a father-headed family.
“Why tell us all these?” I guess most of you are asking yourselves. Simple; whilst undertaking my research, I had the chance and the opportunity to interact with a few single mothers, and even through literature reviews, I could see that there are lots of things we can never see. I went through all this, to let you understand a few of them and learn to see things from a different perspective as I did.
1. Ouch! Your Words Hurt!
There are general misconceptions and prejudices we have about single mothers. They may never show it to you, but every word single mothers hear, be it through whispers, hurt them a lot. This in turn affects their psychological well-being. It is estimated that single mothers are the leading group that suffer severe stress.
Whatever we say, be it intentional or unintentional, pierces deep into their hearts and because they want to be strong before their children, you will never see the tear drops they shed when they face the other side of the bed or the silent words they speak behind their locked bedroom doors.
This patronizing attitude of society and the stigma is the worst for a single mother; the idea that they became single mothers through immoral actions. Anyway, we can never know anyone’s story unless they tell it to us – life happens to everyone.
2. My Kids Are No ‘Baggage’ Please
Dating a single parent isn’t the easiest and isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t ready for a child, why self commit? Once in a while, during your date nights, their children will come up in between conversations.
Their kids will always be the most important part of their lives therefore if you are willing and ready to settle down with any single parent, be ready to respect and understand that.
3. Child Support Does Not Cover Everything for my Children
Even through research, you can tell that almost three-quarter of single mothers come from low or middle class groups. Of course this means that their income isn’t enough even when stretched over limit. The cost of raising a child estimates to about $241,080 in average.
This means that even single mothers lucky enough to receive child support can’t afford the said amount for a single child. What does this tell you? The misconception we all have that single mothers are rich or have lots of money from their ex-spouses’ is wrong. Child support doesn’t cover everything. Single mothers have to turn rocks and do the impossible to feed, cloth and give their kids a good life.
4. Yes, I Like You too, but How do I Tell my Children?
Introducing another man in the house – the toughest thing they have to do. Often creates a dilemma. It’s a very hard time for both the children and their mother. I understand it’s supposed to be a very slow process, but how many people will understand that?
Most men may think they aren’t serious and wouldn’t want to be in a steady relationship. “When will I meet your kids?” tough question believe me. On top of preparing themselves psychologically, they have to find the right time to tell their children and prepare them psychologically as well. Besides, you wouldn’t want to introduce a man to your children the first month, break up the next, meet another man, and do the same all over again! God forbid! This will create a lot of confusion to the children.
5. Should my Friends be Married Mothers or Single Ladies?
Married mothers have their husbands as the first support system both emotionally and financially. In contrast, other friends who are single are unaware of how to raise a kid and what it feels like.
Most single mothers feel isolated and lonely because a midst the daily chores, they need some sort of support system to help them pull through. Unless they have other single parents as close friends, they will have no one to turn to for guidance.
6. Am I Really Raising my Child Right?
This is common to every mother; however, the difference comes in when society decides to point fingers and lament about how these children grow. Societal demands make them question whether they are raising their children the right way. Considering that everyone believes that for children to grow well, they’ll need both a mother and father.
7. Help! I Don’t Have Much of a Social Life!
Single mothers are the only people responsible for their children’s life and well-being. Even when they get the free time to go out and have fun with friends, all they’ll think about will be to lie down and rest, especially because of all the chores and errands they had to run during the day.
8. I Apologize in Advance for Being Human
So I’m divorced. Or perhaps I had a child before marriage. Is that a reason to criticize and point fingers?
We don’t make mistakes because we’re bad; we make mistakes because we’re human. The best part about mistakes is the fact that we’re able to pick ourselves up and learn from them.
At one point in your life, you made a wrong decision too that you had to learn from and became the stronger person you are today.
9. I’m a Super Woman
Personally, if I were to write a book about my mother, the title would be ‘Superwoman’ because to me, that’s what she is. I know this is a cliché, but I just had to use it.
Technically, they have no one to help in terms of co-parenting. They have to cook, clean, go to work, pay the bills and stay up all night when their kids won’t sleep. Even throughout their children’s growth and development, from childhood – they change the diapers, potty train and baby sit – to adolescence as they help their now mature children through the process of self-identification and understanding their sexuality on their own. These are hard tasks; yet, single mothers do them on their own with little or no help from their family members.
Either way, they are the main figures their children look up to. This means single mothers have to be good role models and mentors to their children. Twill be hard to see all these efforts they put.
Who would want to raise children on their own? Okay, maybe a few, but I can say this with so much confidence; parenting is the most challenging task and single parenting is the toughest. So before you speak out loud negatively about single mothers, think of what they have done, what they are going through and imagine if it were yourself, your sister or your mother.
I can go on and on about single mothers, but I know you have a grasp of what my point is; single parents are also our heroes. March 21st every year in the United States has been set aside to recognize single parents and their heroic contributions to the society; National Single Parents Day. Why can’t we have the same? What do you think?