The Single Mother Battle on Stereotypes

by Marissa Hicks

I adore my daughter and love being a mother. However, no matter how hard I work to improve my life I still have to deal with the social stigma associated with being a single mom. Personally, I married my first boyfriend with whom I first had sex with. People who assume that I am a single mom because I sleep around really frustrate and anger me. My friends joke around with me about the fact that they are proud I am in school and not stripping. Apparently, there is an assumption that typically single moms strip to support their children. Another stigma that gets under my skin is the comment I hear many men use, “single moms are easy, you know they put out.” It seems to be a common thought that single moms sleep around looking for attention from males.

I try not to let these comments get to me; however, I cannot always be there when my daughter is being judged. It is assumed that children from single parent homes do not get the attention, supervision, love, or discipline to which children from a nuclear family receive.

I find single moms are seen in a negative light raising a child. In my opinion, single moms often face oppression based on myths, stereotypes, and prejudices. The following is a list of comments I can recall hearing in the last couple years which hold no validity:

-“Single moms are the least likely women to get remarried.”

-“Children in single-parent families always have deficits, do poorly in school and suffer emotionally and behaviorally.”

-“Single-parent families are “broken homes.”

-“Children from single-parent families have lower self-esteem.”

-“Children raised by single moms actually resent and hate their mothers”

-“Single mothers are unable to give their sons the upbringing that they need and once they have to face the world, they prove to be failures since they lacked a man living at home.

-“A Child Needs a Father”. (The truth here is that a child needs family with a healthy relationship)

-“Youth raised by a single mom are at higher risk for substance abuse.”

-“Children are at greater risk of physical abuse in single mother households than in single father households.”

-“High Youth Crime Rates are a direct result of not having a father at home.”

-“Children fare worse in single parent homes.”

-“Single moms are lonely and have a hard time finding a mate.”

-“A child is better off raised by an unrelated married couple than by her own parents if her mother is single at the time she is born.”

-“A child is better off raised by an older person than by her young mother.”

-“A child is better off with wealth than with her own mother or father.”

– “Children growing up without a father in the home are more than twice as likely to end up in jail.”

Reading statements like that make my blood boil. I am proud to be able to prove all these statements wrong.

I am asked surprisingly a lot if I ever look back and wish I would have had an abortion, knowing I would have to raise a child alone. I cannot help but find that question extremely rude. Especially when it comes from another parent, who understands the love one feels for their offspring. Comments like this shock and repulse me. I don’t want to imagine my life without my daughter for one second. If anything, I am a better human being for what I have been through.

Now my daughter is starting preschool and I am afraid she will start to question our family. I fear she will one day blame herself or me for her father not being around. I am not in any way wanting to replace her father by jumping into a relationship. That is another assumption I hear; that I am looking for someone to be my daughter’s father and to support me. That is the farthest thing from my mind. My daughter has strong support from me, and from my brother and father is with her every time she needs. Any relationship I choose to be in will be obvious that I am quite capable of supporting myself and I am simply in the relationship because I enjoy my partner’s company. A huge stipulation is if my relationship with my daughter is respected by my partner and he embraces who she is. I don’t ever want someone to feel they have to take on the daddy role to be in a relationship with me.

I have realized some key things that have helped me to ignore and surpass many stereotypes. My reason for being a single mom is no one else’s business but my own. I am not going to let other people diminish my hard work. Nobody has the right to judge me or treat my daughter differently simply because I am a single mom. I’ve planned a life free from violence both for me and my child. And, I am proud of my strong bond with my child.

I have noticed when I take my daughter to different classes I very quickly get dismissed by other moms as soon as they find out I am a single mom. They treat me like I have a disease, I might steal their husband or my child must be bad company for their child. I try to shrug it off and focus on the relationships I already have. I am a fabulous person with a great kid and anyone who assumes less of us is missing out! Being a single mom is hard enough on it’s own without the stereotypes. I cannot stress enough that we cannot let these statements affect our self esteem and self efficacy.

These are two crucial guides for single mothers I would like to share:

Single Mother’s Resource Guide provides information on resources and services available to single mothers in the Lower Mainland.

Welfare Resource Guide for Women is an important to guide, which focus on the needs of single mother. It is a guide for us to learn more about welfare or income assistance benefits available for single mothers.

Marissa Hicks is participating in Violence, Media Representations and Families a media literacy program joint initiative between Kwantlen Polytechnic University Sociology Department, First Voices and Battered Women’s Support Services

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