Being a single parent comes with several challenges that can be emotionally exhausting. For this reason it is important to recognize them in order to better manage them.
Last update: June 25, 2022
In recent years, the concept of family has changed and expanded to include different family models. For this reason, the stigma of the single mother is also losing strength, and more and more women are deliberately choosing this model. However, the challenges that single mothers are forced to face are still many and demanding.
The support measures that society offers to women who go through motherhood alone are often insufficient. Beyond that, prejudices and criticisms of single mothers have not entirely disappeared.
This partly complicates the experience of motherhood. However, learning to recognize the main challenges is the starting point for face them in the best possible way and live a fulfilling motherhood.
What challenges do single mothers face?
Overload of tasks and responsibilities
Single mothers take financial, moral and emotional responsibility for parenting. They are the only source of support for the family, they perform both the parenting and educational functions and take care of the housework.
The obligations usually shared with the other parent fall solely on their shoulders, with consequent physical and psychological overload.
During the first months of motherhood, the needs of the newborn require an almost exclusive dedication on the part of the mother. For this reason, many women complain about the lack of contact with other adults and the related emotional consequences.
In the case of single mothers, this feeling of loneliness can be much more intense, not only due to the absence of a support figure in the home, but because of the work overload that limits the free time to devote to social relationships. Furthermore, this limitation continues through much of the child's childhood.
Dependence on the family
Lack of time, financial resources and support in raising children can lead single mothers to resort to the extended family. Especially when the woman is very young.
The risk in this case is that family members overstep the boundaries, passing from the necessary support to the exercise of an authority that is not theirs.
The decisions regarding the education of children, in fact, concern only the mother and in this case she risks being overwhelmed by others.
All of this can cause negative emotions. Excessive responsibilities and lack of time can cause anxiety and stress over time. The feeling of isolation and the absence of gratification in areas other than motherhood can cause sadness, irritability and apathy.
At the same time, the need for family support and feeling helpless can undermine self-esteem and self-confidence. But there is another recurring emotion among single mothers: the sense of guilt.
Often the choice of this family model is personal, but in other cases it can be the result of an unexpected situation (for example due to the death of the partner or because the other decides not to take on the role of parent).
However, some mothers feel guilty that their children will grow up without the presence of another figure of reference; this is often accompanied by the feeling of not being able to keep the family together or there is a fear of the possible repercussions of such a situation on the development of children.
An emotion often inflated by the prejudice and opinions of the social context, which it often tends to devalue single-parent families.
Facing the challenges of single mothers
To reduce the psychological and emotional impact linked to the problems just mentioned, a change of social paradigm is needed; so that it becomes possible to provide support and strengthen families led by single mothers.
Until this happens, providing support, understanding and a safe space in which to let off steam can be extremely helpful for single mothers.
Inquire through reading books and guides written by experts can help clear up doubts about being a single parent.
Forums run by mothers and support groups can be an extremely enriching place to confront and connect with other women who are experiencing the same situation.
And, of course, getting professional help or advice when needed is helpful in managing negative emotions, thus opening up the possibility of a fuller and more rewarding motherhood.