Becoming a Single Mother

Studies, Perspectives and Advice From Adult Children

Video Lesson

Written Lesson

Studies on Psychological States

While there are myriad studies on the negative psychological association of growing up in a single parent home, almost no studies focus on children born to single mothers by choice.

Rather, these other studies focus on children from divorced families (who are likely to have experienced emotional trauma) or children of unplanned pregnancies (correlated with fewer financial resources, which itself is correlated with psychological challenges).

Instead, studies like those published by experts at Cambridge University in England, that focus just on single-mothers-by-choice families show children (ages 4–9) conceived through fertility treatment are no more likely to suffer psychological issues than children from two parent families.

When Jadva surveyed single mothers on how often they reported their children feeling “left out or different,” she noted the majority reported not. There appears to be a difference in perspectives coinciding with whether the family was built through fertility treatment or adoption, but it did not mean statistical significance.

Perspectives of Children

Feeling As Though Family Was “Incomplete”: Children of solo mothers often feel like their family unit is very much complete and oftentimes marvel at how a two parent household (with a range of opinions on parenting, rules etc) manages to function.

Closeness: Many children find they become incredibly close with their mothers and come to see one another as a team. They’re protective of their mother’s feelings and health and think about the responsibility they have to look after them as they age.

Yes, children of single mothers will still act like teenagers when they’re teenagers, but many attest that they see themselves and their mother as part of a core, inseparable unit.

“No Appeals Process”: In a single parent home, that single parent is the arbiter of rules, norms, and behavior. At times, this can feel incredibly unfair to a child, as there is rarely any other adult in the picture to weigh in on the logic or fairness of a decision, stance, or punishment.

Small Families & Siblings: Many solo mothers have one child and as a result, there can be a broader question about what it’s like to be part of a smaller family unit. It would seem children at times adore having so much attention and at other times, would love a sibling to play with, commiserate with, help socialize them, or soak up the mother’s focus from time to time.

Dating: Most children of single mothers want their mothers to be happy but seldom do we hear they’re “eager” to welcome a new person into what’s already a generally happy, functioning, intimate unit. Frankly, this seems to be a subject both solo mothers and their offspring prefer to tiptoe around.

Talking To Strangers: Invariably, and often with no ill-intent, a classmate, teacher or stranger, will ask about or refer to the child’s “father”. Children of solo mothers say they parrot the responses their mothers give, and often a deft, honest, clear response suffices. Most say it’s extremely uncommon for an exchange to devolve thereafter.

Birth Stories: Most children of solo mother’s say they don’t recall the first time hearing their birth story, because it’s always been talked about for as long as they can remember. As one child told us, this is what matters: “start immediately, tell the truth, make it age appropriate. That simple.” As adults, these children are relieved to have known the truth early and it helped to make them feel just as accepted as any other child. It also provided them with a language and vocabulary to address questions from others as they arose. We’ll address this more in the next lesson.