Single Moms?


I have a question about statistics and single moms. First off, I didn’t choose this. My husband is leaving and he doesn’t want custody (although he will see her liberally). While the divorce itself doesn’t hurt me as much as it used to (he’s a cheater with sexual identity issues, I can’t change him and he’s leaving). I keep reading all about how horrible it is for children who grow up with single moms. I just read these facts in another thread. Girls, like my daughter, are more likely to be sexually assaulted, be promiscuous, get lower grades in school, be abused, etc. according to these numbers. People spout this off all the time. They also say things about boys (but honestly I haven’t payed as much attention. Usually it’s something like they are more likely to be criminals).

This has me concerned… a lot. And it’s disheartening. I can’t change anything, I can’t “make” him stay with us and be a husband and father (and at this point I don’t want him to stay either to be honest). So I feel so helpless—like I can’t protect my daughter from certain doom.

But I started to wonder. What do they mean by “single mom?” Single mom’s can be a wide range of people from those who are divorced, to widows, to those who adopt as single moms, to women who have children to collect state benefits, to women who are promiscuous and didn’t intend to get pregnant. Are all the numbers lumped together—with no accounting for lifestyle or other risks? Or does someone take one set of numbers (say, from poor, single teen moms) and say it applies to ALL single moms everywhere (including maybe a well-to-do widow with years of parenting experience)?

I just find it hard to believe that my daughter is at the same risk of being abused and promiscuous as the child of a woman who, herself, lives in a risky lifestyle (does drugs, sleeps around, invites in strangers, etc). Something just doesn’t feel right. Is the fact that a person is a “single” mom or is it really the lifestyle that makes the risk?

To be clear, a father or father figure is important in a child’s life. I would never dispute otherwise. I wish I still had that for my daughter. But it takes two and I can’t stop him from leaving.

Anyway, was just wondering on people’s thoughts or if anyone had reliable information about the subject (either way).


I find the bad rap against "single moms" bizarre, considering it is "absent irresponsible fathers" who are often half the equation. My ex also abandoned his family so he could "explore his sexuality" after falling to the lure of porn. I would like studies to be done on families with fathers like him, and their negative influences on the family dynamic.

I'm guessing that single moms are much easier to study than men, who disappear off the social radar. They don't usually apply for social benefits and help.


I've known single moms and the children of single moms from many different situations. Some had their kids as teens, some got divorced, some go from man to man and have multiple kids all with different fathers, and others had their kids alone by choice. None of these situations is ideal, but I do think that the impact on the children is more severe in some cases than in others. The worst for kids is a mom who intoduces her children to a neverending string of live-in boyfriends who stay for a few months, let the kids get attached to him, then he takes off and is quickly replaced by a new guy. The best-off kids are from parents who divorced when the children were infants so they were too young to know what was going on and feel the pain of the divorce, yet still have frequent, positive contact with their father.

I think the negative impact stems a lot from simply not having a strong father figure in a child's life, which is often the case with single motherhood. A girl's relationship with her Dad forms how she sees other men in her life, from the man she'll choose as a husband to how she sees God the Father. The fact that she'll continue to see her father after the divorce can be a buffer against that as long as her Dad is a good influence and makes sure she knows he loves her. I have a friend who sees her Dad frequently, but she knows she is not a priority in his life and I wonder whether the pain and loss of self-esteem that causes may be just as bad as not knowing her father at all.

I'm really sorry you're going through this and I hope your daughter is not impacted too badly by it, but it's by no means a guarantee that she will suffer from the same effects of single motherhood that some children do. If you are aware of what the dangers are and actively work against them, she may turn out okay.


Your husband leaving is going to have a huge impact on your daughter; no doubt. However, just because you will be a single parent does not mean that any of the things you listed are going to occur with her.

Yes, in research single parents are grouped into one category, the definition of which can vary but usually is something like "an unmarried person living with dependents children in their home for whom they are the primary caretaker" or something along those lines. So, with your husband gone, you will be considered a single parent. The problem is that many of the "studies" you read about in the news are extremely watered down versions of a journal article interpreted by someone with no statistical background. They write something up and publish it and then many people without a basic understanding of statistics, or without at least being able to refer to the entire article, end up believing a bunch of broad, sweeping statements that really do need more context in order to be interpreted correctly.

For instance, it IS true that children who grow up in single parent homes do not do as well scholastically as their peers raised by two parents. However, this does not mean that researchers are saying that because you are a single parent, your child won't do well in school. More than likely, a study published in a peer reviewed journal article would explain all the factors included in their data analysis, things such as parent occupation, income, parental mental illness, race/ethnicity, family size, etc. etc. So for instance, they would find that when you break single parents down, children of single parents who are poor and have a mental illness do not do as well in school as children of single parents who are not poor and do not have a mental illness.

The problem is that generally, no one outside of the research community reads the actual journal article and the person using it to write the news article doesn't actually understand what is there, or at least doesn't communicate it in an effective way to the public. As a social science researcher myself, this is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Overall, just know that there is always way more to the story than you will read about in a "news story" version of these studies. On the whole, children of single parents are worse off and that is a big huge generalization. But there are many, many, many mediating factors and explanations for this. It is not a direct cause and effect. You are surely going to have a lot of challenges raising your daughter alone, but there is no reason for you to worry about statistics that are generalizations about an entire population, or to apply them to your situation. It goes the other way around. You will do the best you can with what you have. Your love and care for your daughter is evident, and I will pray for your family during this hard time.


What I hate about those stats is that they survey prisoners about their family dynamics, but I wonder how many CEO's, brain surgeons and rocket scientists also were raised by their moms? How many "two-parent" households have an absent father who is more dedicated to work, golf, sports, and the like leaving mom to raise the kids alone anyway?

What I'm about to say won't be popular, but I think a single parent can raise healthier kids than a disfunctional marriage. A family can be broken while both parents live in the same house. In addition I've found that kids grow up "in spite of" their parents--rising above abuse, alchoholism, or divorce--to become successful, functional adults.

My advice: stay close to the Sacraments, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and dedicate yourself to being a great mom to your kids.


"he’s a cheater with sexual identity issues"

Have you checked into getting an annulment? There may come a time when you wish to remarry.


Get her involved in big brothers...or ask a male you know is safe and good to be there for her.

As far as being abused. Her father sounds very weird and with "sexual identity" things it could get creepy or dangerous for your daughter depending on his associates. I think this, honestly, is what you have to fear most.

I even if she's already a pre-teen I would create an open door for her to talk if something was wrong. Let her know no one can kill her/you and that you will always love her. Perps often control with fear. The more you know, the more you can be aware and protect her.

Pay attention to ALL signs for abuse. Don't burry your head in the sand. THAT is how you prevent abuse/escolation of abuse.


I do not think people should hate on single mothers. My mother is a single mother, and she got pregnant, had me. I do not think she was a practicing Catholic at that time.


Hmmm, I am a single Mom. Your daughter will be raised the way you raise her. While there are some single women that have a long stream of men and live off of the benefits that the gov't provides, there are many more that work hard to support their children and themselves.

Honestly, I do take offense at the way single Mom's are portrayed as sex hounds in search of the next guy with very little regard for their children living off the gov't.

Please understand that there are plenty of single Mom's out there working 2 jobs to make ends meet. I was one. Who the heck had time to search for a "boyfriend". Paleese.

OP, raise your daughter well and she will take note that she is the priority in your life and that you are a strong woman and not some sniviling weakling that does not know which end is up unless she has a man to direct her. You daughter will grow to be a strong independant woman able to take care of herself and/or be a wonderful wife able to make good sound decisions in time of need.

You will be amazed what you will accomplish when your back is to the wall. All the best to you.


Yes, those statistics unfairly group you with other moms that place their children in situations NOT automatically resulting from single parenthood. Feelings easily get hurt on this topic, so please make sure you understand what I'm about to say VERY clearly.

The IDEAL as created by God is for children to be raised by a mother and father in a loving and healthy family environment. Since we have sin in this world NOBODY totally lives up to this ideal. Nobody.

Like another person said before, if the family environment before the divorce was utterly destructive, you could very much be IMPROVING the situation for your daughter. Not to THE ideal, but the closest you can give her. Just like the rest of us.

That said, you will need to put an extra effort forward so that she learns how to interact in a healthy way with men. Don't be bringing new men into and out of her life constantly. If your father is around and is a good role model, do all you can to expose her to seeing how HE is, how he treats women and how he approaches life. This will help her see losers for what they are when they come along (there's an awful lot of them out there these days!).

You're in a tough spot. You ARE at a disadvantage, but it is one that can certainly be overcome, especially with a little supernatural help. That ain't cheating you know! :thumbsup:


I'm a single Dad. My frustration is there are very few studies on children raised in my situation. I have read some of the papers on single moms in the journals and the risks are independent of race, education or income level.

As some others have alluded to, I believe it is a function of wanting a partner and making the kids a lower priority- sending that message to them. That you have chosen someone else over them. Additionally, there's this concept that the kids need a father figure, so the woman either sincerely tries looking for one, or uses it as a rationalization for quickly getting into another relationship. Single mom's (and I will assume dad's as well) are targeted by sexual predators interested in the kids. So a lot of the problems aren't caused by the mom- they're caused by the nefarious characters who attempt to insinuate themselves into the situation. And like most nefarious characters, they're very good at presenting themselves as charming, likable and trustworthy.

Then, of course, there is the issue of it being harder to work full time and monitor/supervise your kids. Idle hands being the devil's workshop.

just my .02


I just wanted to thank everyone for sharing their opinions (and words of encouragement).

I would agree it's not idea--both a mother and a father would be ideal. But I have to do what I can. While I will be seeking annulment (someone asked) at this point I have no desire to date, meet men, etc. On top of being married (unless the Church says otherwise), I've been though an emotional ringer and don't think it would be a smart move. Plus, I don't seem to have a "filter" to screen out "toxic men." I don't trust my own judgment when it comes to men anymore. 99% are great guys, loving and kind I am sure. I seem to find that other 1% (not just talking about my husband who left me, but all but one former boyfriend too).

I digress.

I will do everything I can to be the best mom despite the uphill battle. And while he doesn't want to have our daughter live with him, her dad still wants to see her and be a part of her life--so that should help. If for some reason he loses interest (which I am sad to say happens to some men) I could always look towards my brother as a male figure for her (my own Dad passed away a few years ago--before my daughter was born).

I like the comment about asking for supernatural help not being cheating, lol. I will keep that in mind when I pray for guidance.

Thanks again.


I'm a child of single mother. She had 3 boys from 3 fathers, starting with me when she was 16.

Why do single moms get a bad rap? Well, their kids commit more crimes, have more social issues, higher rates of drug use, higher rate of teen pregnancy, and most single family households are frequent church goeers.

Is it the mother's fault? Not always. In cases where the parents were never married, the obvious answer is that they are both at fault for not waiting until they were married to have sex. However, once/if the father is out of the picture it becomes the mother's responsibility to raise the kids. Sure, single moms tend to be near, at , or below the poverty level so many of them don't have a choice to live in a nice neighborhood and they probably have to work a lot of hours to pay the bills. This basically leave kids alone or with a relative for many hours and it further distorts the kid's thoughts on self worth and the family unit. Then you have the fact that the fathers in many cases don't care about the kids, which compounds the issue.

Trust me, it's hard growing up and not knowing where your next meal will come from and knowing you were the product of a couple of teenagers having some fun one night. My father spent 15 years in prison, my mom became a severe drunk and left us home for days at a time while she went around with all sorts of men, and my brother became a crack adict. My youngest brother was the type that had so many issues growing up with getting into trouble that he ended up going into the military, He spent two years in the mountains of Afghanastan, being shelled by the Taliban day in and day out and came back with PTSD. After my father got out of prison he started turning his life around and then his drug trafficing history got back to him and someone he did business with a while back came after him. They shot him to death in my grandmother's backyard while he was playing football with my 8 and 9 year old cousins. He die in their arms.

My case may be an extreme one and not the same as the OP's situation but as you can see my mother's decision as a teen resulted in about 15-20 years of hell for her three boys and for her parents. Not that our father's were not to blame but they're not the ones with the kids either.

Fatherless homes are what the biggest problem is today in American families. If I had a strong father in my home who could have helped my mother and took care of is kids, it would probably turned out completely different. If my mother made better choices, things would have turned out different.

I know several others who are children of single mothers and there is a pattern: Poor, social issues, behavior issues, and repeating the mistakes the parents made. Those are the facts from the people I know with a similiar situation.

Children of single mom due to divorce, I think, could be a different thing. At least those kids generally know their fathers, are more likely to be getting fincancial support, and were likely concieved in love. I do know that kids in a divorced family do tend to have more problems as well, but I think they are less in number and severity than those of teen moms.


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