“Welfare broodmares,” “crack-addicted thieves,” “parasites” and “cougars with kids in tow” are just some of the terms media personalities have used to keep the single mom myths alive.
The myth of the broken home should have been debunked by now so I had to check twice that I wasn’t reading a 1980s article from Google News Archives when I was searching for statistics on single parents. I came across the following: “[Single mothers] are probably responsible for more crime and poverty in this country than any other identifiable group of people.”
The post was dated March 19, 2009. The more blog posts and news stories I read, the more I realized that most of the myths that have fueled people’s unconscious biases against single women continue to thrive on the internet.
Here are the 10 single-mom myths I most frequently encountered.
Myth # 1. Single moms cannot give their children the same love and attention as married couples
Reality: Two is not a magical number of parents. What fuels this myth is the fantasy that “all children living in nuclear families have two totally engaged parents who lavish their love and attention on all their children, and on each other, in a home free of anger, conflict and recriminations,” says Bella DePaulo, a visiting professor at University of California, Santa Barbara and the author of “Singled Out.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Many children in two-parent homes grow up in a negative environment with constant anger, fights and abuse. There is no magical number of parents, says DePaulo. “When it comes to kids, love is the answer. Single parents can give quite a lot of that.”
Myth # 2. Single moms have less time for the kids
Reality: Being a single mom requires strategic time management and a lot of effort in balancing family and work. However, women who divorce sometimes find that they have more time for the kids after the divorce. When you no longer have to devote time to a marriage, that time can be spent with the kids.
“There is always a way to make time for the things you love,” says Michelle Zink, a single mother to four kids and a successful writer. Zink works hard every day but she manages to find time to write and spend time with her kids. “Sometimes my house is a mess and sometimes we have for dinner what we lovingly refer to as “hodge-podge,” which basically means I’ll make the kids whatever they want as long as it’s quick so I can get back to writing,” she says. However, her weekends are devoted to the family. “I run a teen book club through Borders and we meet every other Saturday, but other than that, we’re mostly around the house watching movies or swimming.”