Main problems

Most single mothers face a series of problems and difficulties of which they are sometimes unaware and which impose serious limitations on their social integration and personal development.

Overload

Single mothers alone assume parental functions, household chores, educational responsibilities and the burden of being the only source of income for the family, which often makes them feel overwhelmed. Generally this overload of tasks condemns them to the absence of personal life and therefore to the disappearance of any positive emotional reward in another role other than that of mother; as a companion, friend, partner, etc.

Loneliness

The above situation prevents them from dedicating time to a personal and social life that would allow them to establish a satisfactory number of quality relationships that could function as support for them, and contributes to their isolation, generating feelings of loneliness and abandonment. In addition, one of the main fears of many single mothers is that it will not be possible for them to rebuild their emotional life as a couple because they already have a child.

Dependency

It is very common in these types of families for the extended family to take the reins of the situation, especially if we are talking about very young and adolescent mothers who may not have reached a sufficient level of maturity to face such a complex challenge as single motherhood. That is why we see that in many families it is the grandparents who exercise authority and make the important decisions regarding the upbringing of these children. It is also possible to create a vacuum of authority in which all members of the extended family feel legitimized to give their opinion and make decisions regarding these children, since they are helping their mother. In the most serious cases, these mothers endure abuse and humiliation from the one who provides them with a place to live and the means to subsist, so that their life becomes a maelstrom of events in which they are involved without ever deciding for themselves.

Low self-esteem

The above points are important risk factors in maintaining a low level of self-esteem since it is really difficult to experience a positive mood when there is no balance between obligations and gratifications or when there is a feeling of lack of control over one’s own life. This causes negative emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, etc. to be very present.

Stigmatization

Nowadays it is much more accepted and assumed that there are different types of families and that this diversity is healthy and positive since it reflects in a much more accurate way the different realities in our society, escaping from the traditional or nuclear family model that in other times was understood as the only possible option.

Despite the progress, single mothers, although in more subtle forms, continue to carry a certain stigma since they are still considered in the collective imagination as immature, irresponsible, barely educated, impulsive women, incapable of maintaining relationships, etc.

Unemployment

Being a woman and having family responsibilities are two of the greatest difficulties in finding a job in our country today. Single mothers have the need to work in order to survive, being the only source of income for their family, but they also have the greatest problems in reconciling family life and work because they are alone in raising their children.

 Risk of social exclusion

All these factors we have just mentioned lead to a greater risk of social exclusion and therefore to a greater need for economic support, employment, housing, co-responsibility in family tasks, family support services, culture and education.

Children’s education

These problems can cause single mothers on many occasions to adopt certain negative tendencies with respect to the education of their children. The most frequent are:

  • Overprotection: the overload of tasks and the lack of support generates a need to focus so much on the children that it can lead to attitudes of overprotection that sometimes work as a mechanism to compensate for other shortcomings.
  • Omnipotence vs. impotence: there may be two opposing styles of thinking and behavior in relation to the assumption of parental responsibilities. These range from wanting to be in charge of everything (which ends up generating great stress), to delegating to other family members and letting them completely take over the child’s education.
  • Perfectionism: This sometimes works as a mechanism to compensate for the mistake made: trying to be the best mother in the world in order to demonstrate (to themselves and to others) that despite having become pregnant without wanting to, they are capable of being able to take care of their child’s education.