Surprising Facts About Single Parenting

Here are some surprising facts about single parenting.

Almost everyone has an opinion on the subject – and there are plenty of stereotypes and misconceptions. What do they mean in terms of raising healthy, well-adjusted kids?

The general attitude society takes toward single parents has changed significantly over the last couple of generations. In the not-so-distant past, raising a child without the help of a spouse was considered a pitiable existence, at best.

While single parent families have become more socially acceptable over the years, there are still plenty of assumptions and stereotypes out there.

How do these myths hold up against the true facts about single parenting?

Myth #1: A single parent household is a poor household

Since single parents have to shoulder more of a financial burden without help, many people assume that the majority of them must raise their children in poverty or near-poverty.

This is simply not true. In fact, of all single parent households in the US, less than 30 percent of those headed by mothers are at, or below, the poverty line, and only about 13 percent of single father households are impoverished.

While this still represents a large number of people, it does not support the notion that all, or most, single parent families are poor.

Myth #2: Everyone else pays for single parent households

Along the same line of thinking as #1, many people assume that most single parents draw some kind of welfare or state assistance, and therefore are supported by the tax money of others.

Again, this is actually a false conception. According to the United States Census Bureau’s facts about single parenting, out of all single custodial moms, only:

  • 22 percent collect medicaid
  • 23.5 percent receive food stamps
  • 12 percent are on some kind of housing subsidy program
  • 5 percent are enrolled in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

Myth #3: Single parents are in this position because of irresponsibility on their part

While this is true in some cases, it is nowhere close to being an across-the-board reality.

Many single parents have escaped an abusive situation, or were thrust into single parenthood, due to their spouse having dropped the parental responsibility ball.

Here are more facts about single parenting. There is a large number of single parents who have never been married (over 34 percent of women, and almost 21 percent of men) and many of these are people who chose to adopt or assume custody of a child, with no intention of co-parenting with a spouse or partner.

This leads directly to the related assumption that anyone who willingly chooses single parenthood is selfish, and/or misguided.

However, prospective adoptive parents have to complete rigorous trials in order to prove themselves as worthy of being awarded custody of a child. This would indicate a level of responsibility and dedication that many birth parents do not possess.

Myth #4: Children raised in single parent households develop a lower self-esteem than their peers raised in more traditional family structures

This parallel was often drawn based on the assumption that kids raised by a single parents are almost always poor and, because of that, grow up feeling inferior to peers raised in two-parent homes with adequate incomes.

As you can see from the Census statistics, this theory doesn’t really hold water when faced by the facts about single parenting, since not all (or even most) of single parent households are impoverished.

There are too many contributing factors to low self-esteem to make a blanket statement about growing up in a single parent household.

Myth #5: Kids from single parent families grow up to be less intelligent, mentally stable, and emotionally well-adjusted than their counterparts who were raised in dual parent households

If kids don’t receive adequate love, attention, and mental stimulation, then they’re likely to suffer from these kinds of problems. The reality is that such conditions can exist in any home, regardless of the family structure.

Being raised in a single parent situation does not, in itself, create any danger of being maladjusted or unsuccessful as an adult.

In fact, the opposite could be claimed, based on studies that have found many children from single parent families to be especially resilient, independent, and emotionally stable: possibly due to the heightened level of responsibility they may have carried within the family unit.

Facts About Single Parenting: Single Parenting Pitfalls

This isn’t to say there aren’t pitfalls to being a single parent.

While it’s good for kids to learn to be self-reliant and responsible, they should also be allowed to have a full and fun childhood. Children should never be shouldered with adult burdens, and should be shielded from fighting and negative remarks about the non-custodial parent.

Kids tend to internalize these things, and can end up blaming themselves for their parents’ problems.

Another pitfall single mothers and fathers should be careful about is not relying too heavily on their kids for social interaction, or to fulfill a position similar to what the missing spouse would hold.

It’s healthy for adults to have friends of their own, and all parents should make time for interaction with their peers.

Finally, single parents should draw on family, Church, or community resources, to give their kids access to other positive role models, in addition to themselves.

This helps to hinder the development of an “us against the world” mentality, which can crop up when kids feel abandoned or let down by all but one adult in their life.

Changing the Stereotypes

Today, there is a markedly different attitude about single parenthood.

This could be chalked up to the fact that over 50 percent of modern marriages end in divorce, making single parent households much more common than they were in our parents’ and grandparents’ time.

Happily, many children thrive in single parent homes. Single moms and dads of today are striking a balance between work, parenting, and having their own healthy social interactions.

It is absolutely possible to raise happy, healthy kids, who will grow into well-adjusted adults, in a single parent home.

By separating the myths from the facts about single parenting, valuable perspective can be gained by everyone.


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