Single parents struggle to overcome poverty and social biases, but the statistics and societal attitudes reveal they have an uphill battle.
Some of the news articles about single parents described and linked to in this post are clearly inspiring, but others may surprise and alarm you. They aspire to broaden our perspective and understanding of single parents and their experiences worldwide.
If you have trouble getting to these links, feel free to email me at email@example.com and I’ll send PDFs of them to you.
Recent Canadian polls and reports about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation are not just numbers on a page but a brutal reality for a single mother. This article features an interview with Vanessa Molloy, a single mother of two children who works in the service industry at a restaurant. Her decisions mirrored those of the respondents of an Ipsos poll of 1,004 adult Canadians conducted for Global News between Dec. 14 and Dec. 16, 2022. The poll found that 36 percent had reduced spending on nonessentials like entertainment and travel, while 27 percent had cut back on essentials such as food or clothing to pay for other basic needs. In Molloy’s case, entertainment involves visits with grandparents and free activities; travel is not even on the table. When it comes to the essentials, Molloy focuses on foods she can purchase at one rather than multiple stores so she can save money on gas. There is no mention of clothes as she discusses prioritizing rent and the many bills she can pay in part or in full, depending on her income that month. Molloy described how she manages her situation:
“It’s almost like feeling like you want to put your head in the sand and not think about it, but you know that’s not the reality — you can’t ignore these things. … You don’t think a couple of weeks ahead, you’ve got to think months ahead in how you’re budgeting and how you’re going to see things through.”
These pressures, though shared by so many in British Columbia, are particularly pronounced for single parents, who are disproportionately women, said Vivica Ellis, executive director of nonprofit Single Mothers’ Alliance BC, which advocates for universal school lunches and free transit for youth younger than 18. A 2021 child poverty report card Ellis cited points to nearly half of children in one-parent families in British Columbia who lived below the poverty line in 2019. Single parents have been disproportionately affected by precarious work and precarious housing; as a result, a financial emergency, job loss or even sick day can put them even further at the mercy of inflation.
The high court in a state in India decided that the children of a single father should be able to visit with their grandparents. The court agreed that the grandparents play an important role in the mental and emotional development of their grandchildren. The case was heard in response to the grandmother’s petition to see her granddaughter when she was visiting her son-in-law. The portions of the decision quoted in this article focused on the welfare of a child’s holistic well-being not just their economic needs. The court commented:
“The internal disputes should not have the effect on the mental growth of the child, and if the upbringing takes place with hatred toward grandparents, the child will definitely not evolve into a good human being. This will have lifetime negative effect.”
As a result of the court’s decision, the grandmother is allowed to meet her granddaughter once a week.
The holiday season of 2022 may be behind us, but the struggle to pay for housing continues for nearly 50 percent of Black single mothers in California, according to a report from Gender Equity Policy Institute. This article shares the experiences of a Black single mom of three children who splits the rent for a house with her sister. Even with a full-time remote position, Michal Stafford must decide on how much to pay for bills or for food and keep a roof over her family’s head. The GEPI cited a legacy of racial and gender discrimination working against Black single mothers fighting to their independence and human dignity:
“(A) long history of racial discrimination in the housing market, from restrictive covenants and redlining to the destruction of Black neighborhoods to make way for highways and other infrastructure, effectively destroyed the ability of many Black women to accumulate generational wealth through homeownership.”
To help Black single mothers pay for rent, the Black Lives Matter chapter in Sacramento joined other Black-led organizations to raise money for nationwide campaign called Rent For Moms. This campaign seeks to assist more than 50 Black single mothers pay rent across the U.S., including families in Boston, Binghamton, Detroit, Fort Lee, Oklahoma City, Portland, Richmond, Sacramento, Houston, Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. Stafford did not receive funds from this campaign, according to the article, but supported other Black single mothers securing this much needed assistance.
To donate, visit to the Rent For Moms campaign.
When some single parents run in difficulties, the foster care system may be called in to remove their children until the parents remedy their situation. Completing their jail term and overcoming their substance abuse, for example, are huge accomplishments that could result in the single parents having their children returned. But now, they face another hurdle, which can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and, if unpaid, could mean they lose their children: a bill to the government for some of the costs when their child is in foster care. North Carolina is among at least 12 states, according to an NPR survey, where mothers and fathers can lose the rights to parent their children forever if they don’t pay this little-known and controversial debt. Federal law requires states to bill parents to reimburse some of what the federal government pays states for foster care. This requirement applies to families eligible for welfare, who are the poorest ones. However, in the summer of 2022, the Children’s Bureau and the Office of Child Support Enforcement at the US Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidance to states, recommending that they stop charging and collecting money from these poor families in this situation. Despite this guidance, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and now North Carolina make failure to pay a reason, and sometimes the sole reason, for courts to terminate a parent’s rights to their child. This article introduces readers to several families who are struggling with this debt as well as their legal challenges in court.
Affordable and available child care continues to be a major factor preventing many parents, including single parents, from returning to the workforce in the US. For the average single parent, this financial burden devours 35 percent of their income, according to 2021 data compiled by Child Care Aware of America. This amount is five times higher than the US Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation in 2021 that child care should cost no more than 7% of a household’s income based on the annual average of $10,600 for child care. In 34 states and the District of Columbia, child care for an infant, for example, was more expensive than in-state university tuition. Parents want to work or work more hours, but they need help. According to a ZipRecruiter survey of jobseekers, 54% of those with young children said they would pursue more hours if their employer or the government provided more child care assistance. Unfortunately, this request is falling on deaf ears. Generally, employers have offered higher wages and eased education and experience requirements but have taken little to no steps toward providing child care benefits, said ZipRecruiter’s chief economist Julia Pollak. She attributes this inaction on the part of employers because they are concerned about being accused of discriminating against workers without children.
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent.
My son, Joseph, is currently attending university as a biology major and may write his column titled In My Son’s Words where he describes his experiences as an adult and a child of a single parent.
Twice a month, instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.