5 Challenges Of Being A Single Mother and How To Overcome Them

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Challenges Being Single Mother Overcome Them

Whether you are never married or Divorced, co-parenting with an ex or chose to be a single mother, one thing definitely stands true for you as you have entered the Single Mom status, Life will no longer be the same again!

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report in 2014, 17% of children in the world, aged between 0 and 14, lived in single-parent families. The report also suggested that these households are run by single mothers across 88% of instances.

Fast forward to 2018, and in the US alone there were 11.3 million families headed by a single parent. Across 81% of these instances, that head of the family was a woman.

‘The Life of a Single Mom’, a sensitization platform aimed to educate on single motherhood, reports that the US has 300% more single-mother led families than what it was back in 1960.

Switch to a different part of the world – Japan – and a 2018 Bloomberg report suggested that between 1992 and 2016, the country’s single mother household shot up by 50%.

On the other hand, child poverty in single-parent families was marked at 56%, the highest among nations covered by OECD. 

A look at the numbers and one can easily imagine that single parenthood is no easy bargain. Especially for women, specifically because of emotional, biological and financial differences. The status of a single parent can come down hard on them.

Related: How To Communicate With Your Child If You Are a Single Parent?

However, it must also be said that with more awareness the world has come to acknowledge that women might well need to choose single parenthood over relationships that are toxic and dangerous.

That is still not to say that single motherhood comes with its own set of challenges and in this piece, we’ll get to know some obstacles and then ways to deal with them, without falling apart.

single mother and daughter

1. Financial distress

With children to look after and no partner to turn to in times of financial worry, single mothers are at a disadvantage.

It is also frequently believed that single mothers receive assistance from the government.

According to the 2009 US Census Data, only 41.3% of all custodial mothers receive financial assistance from the government.

Related: 6 Benefits for Children of “Older Mothers”

Other problems like inequality in gender pay also contribute to the larger issue, leaving single mothers to fend for housing and general upkeep of their children, leaving little for education and health.

What you can do about it:

No matter what your pay packet is, one strategy to cope as a single mother is to proactively look at budgeting.

Some experts say that a stash that covers all realistic expenses including healthcare and education is a good direction to move towards and maintain.

Alongside this, it might also be important to sensitive your children about finances and what expectations of theirs can be met without hassle.

This will keep communication open and also allow you to provide an authentic space. Developing a plan to get better pay is also a long-term approach that can retain your ambitions and give you hope.

2. Inner critical voice

inner voice

It is not tough to guess that when women come to be single mothers, they might still have notions of the “perfect family” intact. Consequently, they look at their own circumstances through that lens.

This means that the absence of a male figure, who acts as a father gore to the child or children, is then felt more strongly. This sends many single mothers to doubt and guilt trips.

“Am I doing enough for my child?”

“Could I have done this better if I had a partner?”

“How good am I as a mother if I couldn’t even figure the dynamics of an adult relationship?”

This can take the individual’s world by storm. So what can you possibly do about this kind of guilt?

What you can do about it:

Journaling can be an easy method to note your guilty feelings and thoughts.

If you allow yourself some time and space, your writing might reveal what the real source of guilt is. Once you discover that you might want to find out if it’s warranted or not.

If your guilt is only partially yours to own, you may then figure out steps to move past what is not yours.

Frequently, feelings of guilt are accompanied by other feelings like resentment and sadness. See if you can give yourself little exercises to identify these other feelings and then work with them and their source.

3. Unresolved anger

The process of getting out of a relationship or dealing with the death of a spouse, come with its own baggage.

Unresolved anger is a common outcome, especially for mothers that have gone through bitter divorce battles. Fresh adjustments combined with maintaining a life that the children can thrive in, can be draining.

In many cases, single mothers can develop anger issues and can even end up expressing their anger towards their own children in unconstrained ways.

What you can do about it:

Anger issues, especially those stemming from old, unresolved anger, may need you to take a step back initially.

Where is the anger stemming from?

Is it because you have to do everything single-handedly and yet, don’t have a space to unpack yourself?

Is it because of the stress of work, maintaining a family and looking after yourself, is becoming too much?

Is it because your children are refusing to listen to you?

Talk to someone you trust. Join a gym to release the pent-up frustration. But if you do have the resources and the inclination, sign up for therapy, which often takes you to the root of the problem. 

Related: How You Can Manage Your Anger And Never Let It Control You

4. Social isolation

In the narrative of single motherhood, increased responsibility is a recurring theme. With no support at home in the form of another person sharing the work, financial and emotional load, it is but natural to feel a growing distance between yourself and social commitments.

You might find yourself skipping lunches, family invitations or even outings with colleagues.

This can come down real hard especially if you aren’t the kind of person that needs plenty of personal space. For some single mothers, this tends to be downright depressing.

What you can do about it:

Begin by looking at your week as a structure that has some immovable elements and also some that, with some effort, can be blended with something else or done away with completely. This can help you free up time for yourself.

The next step for you might be to take a good look at how you want to allocate your time.

Have you been wanting to learn a new skill or join a reading or art group that meets on weekends?

Looking at time from a place of understanding and compassion can aid your journey.

5. Intense fatigue

Job, home, health, supplies, children, school, travel, repairs, emergencies. And the list really goes on for a single mother. Round-the-clock schedule that may quieten down over the weekends for another person, but not for a single mother.

Emotional, physical, psychological, and even religious commitments can make for demands that leave a single mom huffing and puffing, without hope for respite.

It is for anyone to guess that this form of functioning is unsustainable and can eventually induce extreme stress and even illness.

Related: 5 Tips on How to be a Successful Single Mother

What you can do about it:

Have a word with your children about how you might need some time by yourself every now and then.

While this may have come across as a surprise otherwise, a conversation will reset their expectations. Create a structure for the week and try to stick to it. Weekends also are no exception.

Related: 10 Sneaky Signs of Loneliness Which Say You’re Lonelier Than You Think

Also, see if you are generally committing to more than you can have on your plate. This might be the time to strengthen those boundaries.

The life of a single mother is not something many people can imagine, especially if they are not in the same position in their own life.

And in no way can a single mother’s entire list of struggles be considered and covered across a listicle. Nevertheless, if you’re reading this, we hope you walk away with some insights.


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  1. sedakuday Avatar
    sedakuday

    Truly tough, am seeing my sister on first hand … well…such life is…nothing I’d write on stone, right ?

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