The Heartbreak of Single Parenting in Poverty

singlemomIt is almost impossible to imagine what it is like to live in poverty every day unless you’ve been there: when you are having to make decisions about whether to pay your rent or feed your children. When you cannot afford to heat your home during the winter months and you know you are sending your children to bed cold every evening. When you are living in poverty and have children to support and feed alone, every decision that you make can be heartbreakingly difficult, and there struggles often outweigh the joys. What can make this struggle even more difficult is that you are facing it alone: you don’t have the emotional and spiritual support of a partner who can help you to make these decisions. Many assume that single mothers who are living in poverty don’t work outside the home, but often this simply isn’t the case. Many of those mothers do work outside of the home, and work hard, but the astronomical cost of childcare means that they can often spend up to three-quarters of their monthly income on the childcare that they need to enable them to work, and this can mean that they still can’t make ends meet. [3]

God did not create us to live alone.  He designed us to be a communal people.  So when life is lived alone, we can often be unsure of where to can turn next, and without hope we may make decisions which are unwise, bad for our general health and/or wellbeing, and may even lead us to step further away from the path of God.  Sometimes this can lead us into choosing to block out the pain involved with illegal substances, such as drugs and alcohol [4].  Feelings of guilt, exhaustion and depression are all too common amongst single mothers. They need support and understanding, rather than being left alone to take care of their children. Offering support to a friend of family member that is a single mother does not usually mean offering financial support: emotional and spiritual support, someone to talk to and lean on and pray with, is often more important [5] and will certainly be a more fulfilling and enriching experience for you both.

The fact that many single mothers are raising their children alone and in poverty is often not because of anything they have done wrong. [6] Finding yourself in the difficult position where you are raising children alone and living in poverty can be heart breaking and emotional, and you can feel that you have nowhere to turn.  Thanks to organizations such as The Restoration House, however, churches, other organizations and individuals can be trained and supported to offer the best possible help for single mothers and their children as they work to accomplish the dream they have for their future.

By guest writer: Emma Crosby

Further Reading

[1] “Over 48 million Americans live in poverty”, CNN Moneyhttp://money.cnn.com/2014/10/16/news/economy/48-million-americans-poverty-census-bureau/

[2] “The relationship between single mothers and poverty is not as simple as it seems”, The Washington Posthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/04/10/the-relationship-between-single-mothers-and-poverty-is-not-as-simple-as-it-seems/

[3] “The rise and downfall of single mothers”, Forbeshttp://www.forbes.com/sites/brycecovert/2012/07/16/the-rise-and-downfall-of-single-mothers/

[4] “You can motivate your loved one to get help”, Rehabs.comhttp://www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/you-can-motivate-your-loved-one-to-get-help/

[5]”The emotional dilemmas single parents face: We need a rock too”, Parentinghttp://www.parenting.com/blogs/mamas-boy/christine-coppa/emotional-dilemma-single-parents-face-we-need-rock-too

[6] “Policy, not parenting, keeps single parents and their children living in poverty”, Think Progress, http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/04/14/3426579/single-mothers-poverty-benefits/