The majority of people when they hear that a child has a ‘single mother’, they immediately anticipate that single mothers are not competent or capable of taking care of their children as well as they do not raise them properly. However, some of these people do not even know what ‘single mother’ means. So what is a ‘single mother’? How does she become a single mother? And can a single mother raise a successful child? A single mother is basically a mother who has a dependent child or children and shoulders all of the responsibilities in raising her kids all by herself — without a father’s help or assistance.
Besides, single mothers are the ones who are widowed due to the death of the father, divorced as well as unmarried since the birth of the child. This sounds extremely complex and tough, because they take on dual roles that are exceedingly stressful and unbearable sometimes.
However, single mothers do an amazing job in providing their children a life full of care, comfort, love and attention.
In addition, this stigma of single motherhood connects to me on a personal level because my cousin is a single mother for two years since her husband passed away. Plus, I consistently see how strong and patient she is in providing her three children a good life, guidance, education, entertainment and care. Besides, I interviewed and asked her about her main duties as a single mother which are running the household, earning a living, involving her children and making them a best model for their siblings and others, taking care of herself and her children and lastly always thinking positively.
This is because she believes that looking back would make her feel weak, so she always values patience and faith in order to create her and her kids own happiness.
Moreover, she and her children are so close and more connected because of all her major efforts on raising them and making them pleased and satisfied with their lives. Most importantly, single mothers are not alone and are always honored for their battles for making successful and independent kids. Furthermore, single motherhood stigma has a great significance on the society since society nowadays judges, offenses single mothers and claims that they cause poverty, lack of education and violence to their children. According to her article, “In defense of single motherhood”, Katie Roiphe addresses that: “In a season of ardent partisan clashing, Americans seem united in at least one shared idea: Single mothers are bad. A Pew Research Center poll on family structures reports that nearly 7 in 10 Americans think single mothers are a “bad thing for society.” Society keeps stereotyping single mothers because it believes that they are not adequate for raising their kids since they lack the privilege of having a partner.
However, single mothers are fully capable of raising a financially stable household and providing their children an education, so underestimating single mothers is unfair. Moreover, society should accept and understand the fact that there are different types of families and even if a family is missing one member, that does not mean that it is not perfect. In addition, Kimberly Seals Allers also mentions how society treats single mothers in her article,“There is a single-mother hierarchy, and it needs to stop”, by highlighting that: “Society secretly categorizes single mothers in gradients of respectability depending on income, race and, most important, how you became a single mother.” As a result, this approach of judging is very influential as well as a bit offensive because it changes and impacts how people in our society interact and communicate with single mothers. For instance, rich white widows obtain empathy, respect and acceptance from society due to the unmanageable circumstances they went through after the death of their partner. But divorcees from a minor race and from a middle or low class do not receive as much compassion and understanding as widows.
Therefore, the society’s treatment of single mothers is hard to change because it is quite challenging to alter the mindset of some people and their perspectives on single mothers. However, we can definitely educate and inform them that single motherhood is very powerful since it emphasizes the significance of women and their key roles in our society. By challenging the stigma of single motherhood, we can create a more accepting society and a better understanding world of the struggles single mothers face due to judgment. As noted in Allers’ article, she explains how she always hides that she is a single mother in order to avoid judgment from other parents and from her child’s teachers and principals by indicating that: “Years after my divorce, I continued to wear my wedding ring when meeting new school teachers and principals, acutely aware that as an African American woman, I was still subject to the stereotypical perception of “the black single mother”.
And I did not want any teacher interacting with me or my child based on that negative perception. I took on additional freelance work to make sure my children had access to the same opportunities as others.” Since most people see single motherhood as a disease to the society, hiding it will not lead to a considerable impact in changing people’s negative perspectives on this stigma. Nevertheless, this criticism could be eradicated by adjusting the society’s wrong perception to the accurate and correct one. For instance, if people recognize that it is not single mothers fault to be single mothers, treat them normally and know that their support for single mothers will strength their society, this will improve the lives of single mothers and their kids. Not only this, Allers also mentions a wonderful idea of how society should deal with this stigma by pointing out that: “When we can shift focus to the children, not the former marital status of the parent, and ensure every child of a single-parent home is valued and supported, and not stereotyped, then we can all win the gold.
That’s a societal badge of honor worth celebrating.” So there is no point of judging single mothers as long as they take care of their kids and ensure that they are living a good life. Therefore, single mothers should speak up for themselves, their children and their experiences because they do not deserve any wrong judgment about them. They also should spread awareness and let everybody know that they and their kids are the biggest model for strength, cooperation, courage and power. On top of that, single mothers’ efforts on their kids are very valuable since they lead to their kids success and prosperity in life. In fact, before studying this unit, I had much less knowledge about the stigma topic than I do now. Also, it definitely changed my perspective on stigmas since now I know what they are, how stigmatized people deal with their issues and most importantly how we should treat stigmatized people.
Moreover, I was surprised by the stigma of single motherhood because I had no idea that it is actually a stigma. And after reading several articles about this topic, I was also surprised by how single mothers do their best to make a bright and successful future for their children. In addition, the most impactful and informative topic to me was the addiction stigma because I personally heard about the guys’ experience with their stigma and the hardships they went through from the beginning until the end of their stigma (recovery). My goals from now on is to not assume things about people because you are not in their shoes. As a result, nobody knows what they are going through before or now. Moreover, being respectful and non-judgemental is the best approach because it reduces any complications.