We’ve all heard the argument about how children raised by a single mom end up worse off than children raised in a traditional, two-parent household. From negative psychological effects on their developing brains, to adopting a fatalistic view of men and patriarchal roles in society, single mom households have been derided for decades as bad for kids.
But a recent study has turned that archaic view on it’s head, claiming that kids raised by single mothers are no worse off than kids raised by two parents.
The study, which was conducted by Mathilde Brewaeys of the Center of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, focused on 69 single mothers by choice, and compared them to 59 mothers from heterosexual, two-parent households. The children in the study were all between 1.5 and 6 years of age. Parent-child relationships, social support networks, and the children’s well-being were studied. The results showed no significant differences between kids when it came to emotional involvement, parental stress, or behaviors.
In fact, it showed that kids raised by a single mom appeared to enjoy the same parental relationships as their counterparts raised in typical, two-partner families.
The study also showed that single moms benefited from a stronger social support network. That can mean family, friends, or even the virtual networks we develop on the internet.
It’s important to note that this study focused on single moms by choice, meaning women who chose to pursue motherhood via artificial insemination or other means, without a partner. But, as an “unintended single mom”, I find that the study shows much of what my life and my children’s lives is like, as well. I didn’t set out to be a single mom, and when our lives changed, there was definitely a period of adjustment. But after some trial and error, my unintentional foray into single parenthood has had more of a positive impact on my relationships with my children, than staying in a bad situation ever would have.
I chose to end a bad marriage, in order to be a better mom, and my children and I are better off.
That’s not to say that being a single mom doesn’t come with a whole host of challenges, or that I don’t worry everyday about how our life could negatively effect my kids. There are some things that are out of my control, and letting go of worrying about them has been difficult. But when you’re faced with raising your children in a home without love, or sucking it up and doing the hard work on your own, you make the decision that is best for your kids. It wasn’t the easiest choice, not by a long-shot, but it has already proved to be the best decision for the three of us.
While I’m not the target mom this study focused on, in a lot of ways, I also consider myself to be a single mom by choice. I could’ve stayed, and I chose not to. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that decision, but I have yet to regret it. It’s time we stop placing two-parent households on some pedestal as the gold standard for raising children. In this day and age, families come in all shapes and sizes, and there is not right or wrong way to raise your children. As long as they are being raised with love, respect, and compassion, the rest is just scenery.
(Image: iStock /Martinan)