The psychological effects of being a single mother are often overlooked. Not everyone has a family filled with love and support, and this means positive and negative circumstances can leave imprints.

Being a mother is tough. It can be downright exhausting. However, being a single parent comes with a much higher level of responsibility. These responsibilities and stressors can affect both the single mother and her children.

The Psychological Effects of Being a Single Mother

Since the 1950s, single-parent households have skyrocketed. What does this mean? Well, for one, it means the idea of “family” means something different from before. Now, a family can be composed of many dynamics.

However, these dynamics aren’t without issues. For single mothers, the psychological effects can be good or bad and leave an imprint for many years to come. Here are a few psychological aspects that affect both parent and child.

1. Low self-esteem

Unfortunately, children and single mothers can suffer from low self-esteem. This happens for many reasons. The most common reason children of single mothers have identity issues is a lack of positive attention and support.

This isn’t always the fault of the mother, as single parenting means working more often. Mothers deal with their own self-esteem issues because they sometimes feel abandoned by their ex-partners.

Low self-esteem can also come from feeling different from other children who may have two parents at home. Being different often triggers bullying, which adds to any feelings of inadequacy that were already present. Unstable home life can also affect the self-esteem and mental health of single mothers.

2. Negative behaviors

Due to issues with finances and other changes, which are common in single-parent homes, there are more restrictions on spending. Because there is less money for fun and entertainment, some children exhibit negative behaviors, either due to boredom or anger.

Children and mothers may feel anxious, abandoned, sad, and lonely. In a single-parent home, money is tight, and this causes negative mental and emotional behaviors.

There are other stressors that trigger negative behaviors, and these behaviors can worsen, causing depression, anxiety disorders, addictions, and other serious problems. Single mothers not only have to deal with their own psychological fears but also must help their children navigate these dangerous emotional waters as well.

3. Academic performance

Single mothers struggle financially, and this can lead to working two or even three jobs to make ends meet. This also means missing out on school activities, such as awards ceremonies and sporting events. Although making money is not a top priority, missing out on academic events affects the mother and child.

For mothers, missing out on these important things equals poor parenting, but this is a misconception. Regardless, for children, these feelings of neglect and abandonment can lead to poor academic performance.

Being a single mother raising a family on her own means making tough choices. Unfortunately, whatever you choose can leave scars.

4. Commitment issues

Single mothers may develop commitment issues after divorce. Children of divorced parents may also develop a fear of commitment later on in adulthood. The idea that one of the most important relationships in your life fell apart makes it difficult to trust, meaning future relationships and marriage may seem impossible.

Being a single mother means dealing with your own commitment issues while teaching your children how to deal with similar issues.

5. Strong bonds

There are also positive psychological effects of being a single mother. In a single-parent home, time not spent at work or school can be uninterrupted time spent together.

Unlike living with both parents, living with a single mother means creating a bond with that parent. Even when joint custody is involved, whatever time is spent with each parent is time to grow closer to them. There is psychological fulfillment in creating that strong bond.

6. Handling responsibilities

Children in single-parent homes often learn responsibilities sooner. Seeing a single parent struggle to get things done encourages children to pitch in and help out.

The psychological effect of this opportunity turns children into adults that are more mature and more experienced in life. Helping a single mother keep up with chores and errands creates trust and builds a healthy relationship between parent and child.

7. Emotional management

Single mothers can teach children how to manage their emotions. This includes understanding how to accept disappointment and learn forgiveness. These attributes are shown through maturity that is passed from mother to child during difficult times.

The good, the bad, and the in-between

Single mothers struggle to raise kind and caring children who grow to be responsible and mature adults. And although there may be some psychological effects from growing up in a single-parent household, they don’t always have to be negative ones.

No, single parenting isn’t always an easy task. But the truth is, this dynamic is becoming more common as time goes on, and we are learning so much. As single mothers, the psychological effects, whether negative or positive, can help us become better people. It depends on how we view our situation.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jessie Holloway

    Thanks so much for talking about some of the challenges to be aware of as a single mom. I have a friend who recently lost her husband and now she has two kids on her own to take care of. We’ve been looking into finding some people she can look up to for advice and who knows what she’s going through. We think maybe a blog or social page might help us find someone she can connect with.

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    Oh my heart, this is a journey. She has to grieve and become stronger simultaneously. I’ve been single with children before and it’s rough. But with good support and friends, it’s better. I wish her the best in her life changes. I also wish the best for the children who are learning a new truth about life and death. Reading and watching videos helps. It also helps to understand that the grieving process is important and we shouldn’t try to rush it. Sending love to you and your friend.

  3. Σοφια Συλβια Λογοθετη

    Sofia Sylvia Logothetis,Psychologist/Psychoanalyst
    First of all,when a man is a single father,nobody blames him or accuses him of negligence of the child etc.He is a man and must work,NOt nurture the child. Therefore are nunnies available. No problem.Not even an issue about the child being traumatised,as long as it just visits its mother
    And secondly, mothers are good workers for their job and at home,even when the father is there,doing nothing to help them,
    Thirdly a single mother is free after a probably bad relationship with her husband and the child all together.She often gets rid of abuse and depression,and freedom gives her strength to go on.
    If men never decide to help mothers at home with their children,there will always be no bond between the children and their father.He remains an absent father

  4. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    There’s always been a different view of fathers as opposed to mothers. I can be very unfair.

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