Support for single mothers is growing, along with the number of single moms. More than 80% of single parents in the U.S. are mothers, and 45% of those women are either separated or divorced, more than one percent of them are widows, and a whopping 34% of single mothers have never been married. These statistics are staggering. According to the U.S. Census, 4 out of every 10 children today are born to an unwed mom.
Angela Marchesani, director of program operations for the Women’s Resource Center in Wayne, PA says, “For women leaving an unsafe or emotionally abusive relationship, going it alone is by far a better option.” Though many women face “a financial burden in single parenthood. The real necessities of being a primary caregiver while working full-time can limit job choices and income-earning potential.” There can also be rewards.
“Regardless of how one becomes a single parent, the ability to live on your own terms can be really liberating,” Marchesani added, but “the social isolation and feeling the burden of being everything to your child” can be hard. Many of the resources available to area parents and families leave single moms in search of a different kind of support system. Some women are doing just that.
Creating the support you need
New Jersey single mom, Rustine Pasquini, would probably agree with Marchesani’s sentiments about single parenting. When Pasquini could not find a support group that served her needs, she started her own group at church strictly for single parents and based on a national model. She discovered that many single parishioners in her church shared that they were “struggling with the same issues, and even though there were plenty of places single parents could go to meet and date one another, there was nowhere to go for help in being an effective single parent.” So, in January of this year, she launched Single and Parenting to address these needs.
This same vision pushed Alishia Louis-Potter, founder and chief visionary officer of Empowered Ministries, Inc., in 2007 and 2008, when she helped to establish a group for single parents in Delaware. Louis-Potter saw a need in her community that she felt needed to be addressed because “there were single women, mothers included, that seemed to be allowing their lives to waste away at the cost of cycles of unhealthy relationships,” she said.
Many women felt that “they had no life purpose or value unless they could say they were in a relationship with a man or married.” Louis-Potter decided to change that dynamic and formed a group called Single Sisters Empowered to L.I.V.E., which began as a book club and became an emotional support group that meets on a quarterly basis. Her program promotes self-awareness among single women who have experienced cycles of unhealthy relationships and emphasizes the value of marriage and family as well as the value of “single-ness.” Her group hosts regular workshops and retreats focused on single parenting, dating and relationships, financial management and fostering positive relationships.
Being a single parent can be challenging, but there are benefits as well. Most experts agree that things work out best for single parents when a good relationship with their children is combined with help. For some moms, starting their own support system or program might be the best solution.
Cheryl Lynne Potter is a freelance writer.