For children, having a household that is run by a single parent brings with it certain levels of risk that two parent households don’t have. Much has been said about why fathers are important, but motherless children face an equal amount of risk in many ways.
Almost 30% of custodial fathers receive some form of a support award by the court system when a divorce occurs.
In comparison, almost 80% of custodial mothers receive a support order. What does this mean for motherless children? They are either forced to live most of their day without their father because he is earning an income or they are forced by society to live without certain needs or wants simply because a majority of society doesn’t feel the need to enforce support laws equally.
Three Fast Facts You Need to Know Right Now
1. 8% of households in the United States are headed by a single father who is raising at least one minor child.
2. Single fathers are more likely to live with a cohabiting partner than single mothers are.
3. Motherless homes are less likely to be living under the poverty line than fatherless homes.
Takeaway: Homes without moms have some distinct challenges that lie outside of how much money is earned. Although 24% of motherless homes in the United States are below the poverty line, the challenge of a father becoming a nurturing parent is ever present. When you add in the fact that there is a 41% chance of a live-in girlfriend or other partner often having the authority to also raise the children, even without being officially part of the family, there are unique stressors that are placed on motherless children today.
Why Are There Motherless Children Today?
1. 52% of households that don’t have a mother living with her children are divorced, separated, or widowed and living with just the father.
2. Only 7% of homes without a mother are due to a married couple living apart from the spouse.
3. Single fathers who tend to cohabit with another partner tend to be younger, less educated, and less able to earn a livable income.
4. In 1960, 92% of homes were headed by two parent families. Today that percentage is 67%.
5. 18% of single fathers in 2011 were aged 15-29, comprising 27% of the households in this age demographic – more than double some other age demographics.
6. Almost 20% of single fathers have failed to graduate from high school.
7. Only 7% of single fathers have graduated with a college degree in some field.
Takeaway: Although there will always be tragedies that take mothers away from their families, there is a certain level of decline occurring in homes with two parents. With a drop of 25% in the last four decades, changes in society have happened that have made families drift apart from each other in some way. Whether the statistics are skewed because more fathers are seeking custody of their children or there is a shift in attitudes toward the family in general, the bottom line is this: when there isn’t a mother in the home, there is less overall income, more poverty-related issues, and less stability for the children.
What Increases the Chance?
1. 29% of households that have a single father as the head of the household are African-American.
2. 20% of Hispanic households are headed by a single father. In comparison, just 14% of Caucasian households are headed by a single father.
3. There is a direct link in the level of education a father has to an increased risk of having motherless children.
Takeaway: Motherless homes happen for a variety of reasons around the world, but it seems to be happening in a much more prevalent way today. This is especially so for minority populations and this puts the children at a very high risk of developing low levels of self esteem. If a mother chooses to leave, then the natural thought of the child is that the mother doesn’t love them. This creates confusion and then guilt because the children believe it is their fault that their mother has left.
What Happens in Motherless Homes?
1. Children that come from motherless homes have difficulties developing bonds with other adults besides the father.
2. There is an increased level of fear and anxiety that is present with children from motherless homes because they are scared that other adults will also leave.
3. There is a two-fold grieving process for children in motherless homes because the lost relationship is missed and then any hope of a reunion with the mother is then abandoned as well.
4. Children who come from motherless homes have a higher risk of isolation because they are uncomfortable around other children who speak about their mothers.
5. There is an increased risk of future abuse and abandonment occurring at the hands of children who come from motherless homes.
6. Homes can be motherless even when a mother is still present in the home because there can be psychological issues with the mother at play that cause the same effects of abandonment as actual abandonment does.
Takeaway: Fathers are encouraged to step up and become mentors to children in fatherless homes, but there isn’t an equal push for mothers to do the same thing. Why is this? Because of the social stigmas that would be brought to light if society was made aware of the issues that motherless children face? There are too many risks associated with motherless children, from an inferior quality of life to a continuation of the cycle of abuse, to allow these issues to continue. Children benefit from having a mother in the home and although this can’t be had sometimes because of tragedy, the fact remains that a strong mother figure does a child a lot of good.