Parenting is a full-time job, and that’s best done when both parents are present to share responsibilities and decisions about the children. However, it’s not always the case, and life factors such as separation, divorce, death, unplanned pregnancy, unwilling father, and others can lead to single motherhood. Without support, single mothers can get overwhelmed doing everything for their children by themselves. In addition, society mostly judges them quickly and sees them as the authors of their situations, leaving them prone to feelings of self-doubt and guilt.
Many factors can cause single mothers to be at a higher risk of mental health issues compared with mothers who have responsible partners by their side. They have to bear the full burden of raising their children, which includes financial and moral support. This means they may have to put double effort at everything. They’ll be working longer hours to satisfy family needs, which might lead them to neglect their health and self-care for the sake of their children.
Have a look at these nine mental health challenges common among single mothers:
1. Financial Insecurity And Vulnerability
From the moment a child is born, meeting their financial needs in terms of a good home, food, clothing, education, and other needs becomes a parent’s responsibility. When a woman finds herself alone with these, the financial burden can be overwhelming. Being financially insecure affects a large percentage of single mothers, and most of them struggle to makes ends meet even when working full-time.
In the United States, many single mothers may find themselves seeking refuge in homeless shelters. Being financially insecure can trigger feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. This and other mental health challenges discussed in this article calls for professional help. If you’re a single mom in Oregon, visiting https://www.insightnorthwest.com/ or any other reputable site for online and telehealth counseling as well as other counseling services can greatly help.
2. Sleep Deprivation
While single moms are working longer hours, their sleeping hours are cut significantly. Besides, when they’re at home, they feel like they can get so much done when the children are sleeping. It’s usually the best time to catch up with housework with minimal interruptions, studies, and other responsibilities they may be having. This can undermine a single mother’s chance of a good night’s sleep.
Federal research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 44% of single moms sleep less than the recommended time each day. Being a sole care provider of a child as a woman isn’t a mean feat by all means. You may find yourself neglecting sleep for other things you feel will benefit your children more. Lack of enough sleep can leave your brain constantly overworked, leading to mental health issues such as depression.
3. Lack Of Adequate Self-Care
It’s common for single mothers to be too focused on meeting their children’s needs that they lack enough time for themselves. The things mothers with partners by their side may have time to do such as follow an exercise routine, visit a spa once in a while, or meeting friends can be a huge challenge for single mothers.
The unfortunate truth is that single mothers barely have enough time to take care of other family needs, let alone their personal needs. This is because the number of things they need to take care of and overcome for the sake of their children’s everyday needs is high. As a result, self-care ceases to be a priority in their lives and is placed way down their to-do list.
When humans lack proper self-care, it makes coping with other life challenges a struggle. This, in turn, can affect their mental well-being.
4. Stigma And Judgment
There are many stereotypes of single mothers, and the people who judge them come from all quarters and at any time. It could be from neighbors, school teachers, or even other parents. Your moral character and parenting skills are under attack all the time, which is unfair and demoralizing. This can lead to single moms feeling like they lack in value as human beings and parents.
Generally, mothers find themselves being criticized for doing too much or too little. When you work a lot, society judges you for being absent, and when you’re home too much, you’re lazy. There’s mostly no getting it right as a mom, making it a bigger burden to a single mom trying to create a life balance that seems elusive. When the society is constantly judging you for your situation, you may become overly conscious of your actions. Dealing with judgment all the time may bring out feelings of inadequacy as a human being, leading to stress and depression.
5. Having No One To Share The Load
Being a parent means you’re on duty 24/7 and having no one to share the load with can take a toll on anyone. As a single mom, you aren’t only responsible for your children’s finances but their overall well-being as well. Some issues such as a child’s sickness, especially if a child is admitted to the hospital, can create a lot of stress. Having nobody to take turns to in caring for the children in hospital or at home can take a toll on your emotional, psychological, and physical health.
On the other hand, you also have no one to share your successes with, and it’s equally as damaging to your mental health. Human beings are social in nature, and they feel good when they receive a pat on the back. As a single mother, there’s no one to applaud for you and your children’s successes, and that can be depressing.
6. Social Disconnection
Becoming a single mom because of life circumstances often leads to a smaller support circle. Friends and family may drift away when you need them most, leaving you without a shoulder to lean on. In the case of a separation, you may find your friends and family choosing sides or just unable to relate to your new reality.
Unfortunately, these situations make single mothers disconnect from the community as they knew it and cause feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Loneliness is a known contributor to mental health issues.
7. Conflicts With An Ex And Shared Custody Issues
Separation or divorce from a partner or spouse is difficult as your life changes from having support to having little or none at all. The circumstances of the separation may have been difficult, leading to constant conflict with the other parent. This can easily erode your mental health when things such as stalking, bullying, manipulation, and withholding of child support, among other behaviors, are in play.
Any additional burden on you can lead to a mental disorder. The last thing a single mother need is another stressful situation to deal with. Another difficulty may arise when children have to be with the other parent, and you’re lonely and worried if they’re okay. This is especially true if the father has moved on and is with a new partner, lives far away, or the visitation schedule and transportation issues are difficult to manage.
8. Self-Doubt Issues
A single mother may go on a guilt trip questioning her decisions and the circumstances that led to her situation. She may feel overwhelmed thinking she’s the reason her children have no father present or she could’ve been more patient or tolerating and wondering what her children will think about her when they grow up.
If it happens that you lost more friends than your partner, you may start to feel like you’re the problem. However, blaming yourself and looking at your faults may lead to stress, depression, and associated mental health issues.
9. Dating Problems
At some point, you may find yourself desiring to have a new romantic partner. However, dating with children has a new set of challenges above the normal dating concerns. Besides your security, you have to worry about your children as well as when and how you should introduce a partner. Also, you’ll be wondering how your family and ex-partner will take it and if you’re worthy of love.
As a mother, you’re also striving to model healthy relationships for your children, making every decision you make regarding your romantic needs harder than if you weren’t a single mother. All these issues can lead to anxiety and fear of meeting and accepting new life partners.
Challenges Of Being A Single Mother
Being a single mother isn’t an easy task at all. Raising a child or children all by yourself can be both emotionally and physically daunting, which is no surprise that most single mothers suffer mental health challenges. Maybe you’re a single mother, or you know one; that’s highly probable since 80% of single-parent families in the United States are headed by single moms. Across the world, the numbers are staggeringly similar as well.
Single mothers are part of society, and they need to be understood, protected, and be given moral support instead of judgment. If you’re part of this group, consider the ideas mentioned here as you cope with your situation.