The change in demographic of families has led to a change in the philosophical underpinnings of relationships where many people see marriage as old-fashioned and slavery. The option being considered is an open cohabiting relationship that is conducive to personal development. These beliefs lead to marriage later in life, where many adults become single parents or cohabiting parents. The marriage rate for women has significantly dropped from 76% to 37% per 10000 from 1960 to 2008, where 41% of all births in 2009 were from single parents (Webb & Lorant, 2018, p. 76). The number of cohabiting couples has drastically increased from 4.9 million in 2002 to only 0.5 million in 1970 (Webb & Lorant, 2018, p. 78). In this paper, the responsibilities and roadblocks will be analyzed which come with being a single parent and the struggle, depression, and addiction that affect single parenthood.
Why Single Parent Families Report Higher Levels of Mental Health Problems
The primary critical problem leading to stress among single families compared to cohabiting and married is stress. Single parents lack someone to share their concerns with them in times of need. They lack supportive personal relationships, leading to low life expectancy since no one can help them in their situation. They are left alone to handle all their issues alone (Ross & Mirowsky, 2002). Due to missing social support, the pressure of bringing up the children alone and settling the house bills without consent has increased their levels of mental health problems among them. The married and the cohabiting are in supportive relationships with caring, providing, and helping partners; hence are less likely to face any mental health problems like the single parents.
Inadequate self-care is another issue affecting single parents who lack time to focus on their well-being since much time is spent providing for the children; hence getting time to exercise and self-care is rare, and this causes mental health problems as well (Webb & Lorant, 2018). Divorce and separation lead to one partner withholding child support and violating the divorce agreements, which also causes higher mental health problems among single parents than married parents.
Why Single Parent Families Are Likely to Fall under the Poverty Line
Financial insecurity due to minimum wages has led to many single-parent families becoming economically vulnerable hence falling below the poverty line. They become homeless and unable to provide the necessities to their children leading to anxiety and depression (Smock & Schwartz, 2020). Married and cohabiting families rarely face poverty due to having several sources of income from working partners. The exploration of the disparity between the taxable income of single fathers and mothers showed that single mothers were likely to be in poverty compared to single fathers. This is due to the commitment of mothers to home caring for the children and not having time to work for them.
Why Families Living in Poverty Experience Mental Health Problems
Poverty is caused by low income in a family and is associated with a higher risk for anxiety, substance use, and mood disorders, which are the key determinants of mental health problems. The root cause of these problems is the inability to provide education, food, and medication for the family, leading to suffering, causing depression and addiction for the parent (Ross & Mirowsky, 2002). The stress caused by the struggles may lead to drug abuse among the parents and the children. Families living in poverty have numerous responsibilities and many battles due to weak support networks, causing a feeling of alienation and hopelessness hence higher levels of experiencing mental health problems. That is why families in poverty experience mental health problems more often than those living above the poverty line.
Ross, Catherine E., and John Mirowsky. 2002. “Family Relationships, Social Support and Subjective Life Expectancy.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 43(4): 469–89.
Webb, Roger T. and Vincent Lorant. 2018. “Neoliberal Welfare Reform and Single Parents Mental Health.” The Lancet Public Health 3(7): 307-308.
Smock, Pamela J., and Christine R. Schwartz. 2020. “The Demography of Families: A Review of Patterns and Change.” Journal of Marriage and Family 82(1): 9–34.