Single Mothers in Poverty


The subject on single motherhood has been ignored for a long time. People often struggle to meet their daily needs without caring if everybody else is leading a comfortable life. In the real sense, single mothers struggle to make ends meet. The four central themes discussed in this paper include poverty, mastery and personal control, universal social policies, and the social capital and social support of the single mothers in poverty.

Poverty and the well-being of single mothers

In the ancient days, it was rare to find single mothers. Women would accept to be in polygamous families or in abusive marriages to have the father figure taking care of the family. However, lately, women would rather go and suffer of poverty instead of staying in abusive marriages. Single women spend most of their time hustling and trying to make ends meet. While employment policies would seem to help the women by offering them with over-time payments, the overtime has its negative effects on the social life of the single mothers, as well as their dependants. The mothers who seek overtime payments to earn additional income have insufficient time to care for their children and perform house chores. Their children are forced to learn to do some of the difficult chores at a tender age; a state of child abuse (Albelda, 2011).

Such mothers and their children have hardened up to live in the state of absolute poverty. Such families have accepted their poverty situation, and they suffer in silence because they do not know where to seek for refuge. Single mothers in poverty treat their problems as personal responsibilities, and they have developed coping strategies. Their children may not obtain full education like children from elite families, and they are not sure of their next meal. Some of the single mothers, especially those who lack sufficient education to secure lucrative jobs, have to do manual jobs to earn a living. Reports indicate that some single mothers are molested by their employers who know that they do not have a choice, but to submit to them. Some single mothers admit to have had sexual insults from their employees, and they feared the consequence of reporting the matter.

The little consideration given to single women living in poverty distorts the women and their families. Some of the women struggle to the extent of being hopeless. They turn from highly esteemed individuals to lowly esteemed individuals with no self-control (Ridge & Millar, 2010). The overwork leaves the single mothers with no ability to obtain better job opportunities, or the freedom to make better choices in life. Some mothers have given up in life; they have no control of their lives, and therefore, relatives or privileged individuals misuse them for their own benefit. The poor women have consistent exposure to stresses, and this reduces their self-esteem and life span (Eshbaugh, 2009).

The single mothers living in poverty reach a point where they cannot achieve their set goals because of the difficult economic status. They may end up suffering from depression, ulcers, high blood pressures, where, some of the mothers would be stressed to death. Death marks the beginning of a very difficult lifestyle for the helpless kids who are left in the unsafe hands of relatives and the harsh world. There is a high probability that the poverty in the family would reoccur in generations to come if no action is taken.

It would be worthwhile if the government reviewed its antipoverty programs and upgraded the levels of benefits of the low-income earners, and especially the single women living in poverty. Other than enhancing the employment opportunities for the single mothers living in poverty, the government needs to accept the fact that the nation is in a crisis (Brandy & Burroway, 2012). There number of marriages are dilapidated, where, women prefer to live singly to have their freedom. Regardless of the cause of single parenthood, the person suffering greatly is the innocent child whose life determines the future of the nation (Johnson, Honnold, & Threlfall, 2011).

The government should work towards protecting the children of single mothers and ensuring that they do not suffer the consequences of broken marriages. The single mothers who have a heavy burden of caring for their children need help from the government. It is encouraging that the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program has played a critical role in helping single mothers living in poverty. Moreover, there is the program named Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which has played a critical role in strengthening the avenue between work and families of the single mothers living in poverty. However, not all single mothers are aware of the above named programs, and the government needs to invest in advertising the programs to bring general awareness to the required audience.

Mastery and personal control

Single parenthood is not deliberate for all mothers. Some fateful incidences like the death of the husband, unplanned pregnancies or rape would lead to single parenthood. However, there are those single mothers who deliberately chose to lead a single motherhood lifestyle. The mothers did it for the desire of mastering their lives. In this case, mastering is the ability for the single mothers to take full control of their lives and the lives of their children (Eshbaugh, 2009). Research indicates that most of the women who deliberately chose to live the single motherhood lifestyle had a history of abusive marriages and thus preferred living a life of poverty as long as they have sound minds. Although teen mothers are said to demonstrate lower mastery levels as compared to matured mothers, to some extent, mastering one’s life is casual relief form stressfulness. The teen mothers can gain experience of mastering their lives as they outgrow from teenage to adulthood.

Mastering is a mechanism that enables most single mothers to cope with all life situations. The single mothers living in poverty are hardened, whereby, they develop a way out for every difficult situation that arise (Eshbaugh, 2009). Life is interesting, and a series of successes and failures enables people to master their lifestyles. Single women living in poverty pass the mastery ability to their children, and thus, their children are able to negotiate and alter difficult situations. In fact, if subjected under similar life problems, children living in poverty with their single mother are likely to cope effectively as compared to children from rich families. Research indicates that some of the successful individuals in the world came from very humble backgrounds that “opened” their minds, and this molded them to being great innovators and inventors.

Mastery has played a critical role in the single mothers living in poverty. Despite the fact that the government gives financial and material assistance to the poor mothers, they have also invented new ways of generating income. Single mothers living in poverty are slowly becoming less dependent on the government support, and they may soon be self-reliant (Albelda, 2011). They have invented ways of generating income from underexploited self-sufficient projects. The term poverty will soon snuff out because many single women are participating in self-employment projects. The government should take responsibility and give financial support to the projects of the mothers. Adult education and training programs would play a critical role in encouraging the single women living in poverty to take part in the self-sufficiency programs instead of waiting for aid from the government.

Mastery and personal control have enabled the single mothers to treat their problems as personal responsibilities. They acknowledge their problems and work tirelessly towards finding tentative or permanent solutions to the problems. Mastery has enabled single mothers living in poverty to accept their position, and keep away from criticism of those trying to underestimate them. Despite the life stresses that poor mothers go through, they have the energy to walk majestically and proclaim their positions in the society (Iwata, 2007). It is upon the government to work tirelessly to enhance the sense of belonging to the single women living in poverty.

Social capital, social support, and social security

The society is the greatest determinant of the well-being of the single mothers living in poverty. Social support to the single mothers living in poverty offers the mothers with the necessary network to develop social contacts outside their sphere, and meet with potential employees and acquaintances. The information obtained from the social networks helps the single women considerably. They obtain new investment ideas, share their life experiences, access useful information, and obtain comfort from their peers. Social support enables the poor mothers to feel a sense of belonging, and thus, the social trust is strengthened (Johnson, Honnold, & Threlfall, 2011). The strengthened social trust helps in building strong community relationships and deepened mutual obligations. Social support builds unity, such that all people, regardless of their social class, are able to access the diversified community resources.

Social capital has played a critical role in offering both social support and social power to the single mothers living in poverty. The poor mothers are able to access soft loans to meet their daily needs. The mothers can even use the loans to invest in small projects that would enhance their financial well-being, and thus be able to manage their needs. The single mothers living in poverty are among the minorities in the society, but the social capital projects recognize them and the projects help in creating strong bonds between the single mothers and women of their caliber.

As stated before, the society takes the role to offering social security to the single mothers living in poverty. It is upon the society to ensure the poor mothers live a comfortable life free from distresses. It is noteworthy that single mothers living in poverty are not vocal because of their tightened schedules in their daily hustles to make ends meet. They may not have access to the necessary information of the current issues. It is upon the society to find ways to get them informed of the happenings. The information of the procedures to follow in case of a problem should be made available in the places that the poor mothers are likely to visit (Iwata, 2007).

Politicians are likely to take advantage of the poor mothers. They make heavenly promises to the poor mothers in order to win their votes, and it is upon the society to protect the single mothers living in poverty from false information. The society and the local governments should act on behalf of the larger government to embed and protect the single mothers living in poverty into the society. The single mothers ought to have a voice to speak, and an ear to listen to them. Most importantly, the government should take an initiative to punish the reckless individuals who father children and leave the burden of caring for the children to the mothers.

Universal social policy

It takes a couple to have a child, but the single mothers have often taken the full responsibility of caring for the child. Universal social policies would work towards protecting the rights of the child. Single mothers living in poverty strain heavily in trying to meet the needs of the children that keep on growing as the children grow older (Brandy & Burroway, 2012). The biological fathers of the children could be somewhere “enjoying” life whereas the mother and the child suffer in difficult life situations. While some single mothers could have chosen to be single, there must be an underlying reason, probably abusive marriages. Some Americans have often mistaken single mothers, where, they say that they deserve to live in poverty. However, some single mothers’ husbands neglect them, some conceived at a tender age, while some single mothers’ husbands died before they could gather enough wealth to cater for the children.

It is encouraging to note that the single mothers have benefit entitlements from the government policies. The government also has policies to offer total assistance to the single mothers living in poverty. The government has taken the great role of ensuring the existence of policies that care for the children. Children living in poverty have statutory entitlements, social insurance, and child maintenance allowances.

The universal social policies have played a critical role in ensuring that the single mothers living in poverty have access to their basic needs (Ridge & Millar, 2010). However, some of those mothers have remained to live a life of poverty because of the overdependence of the government. They never take quality time to think of a worthwhile project that can earn them some extra income to upgrade their lifestyle. It is noteworthy that the “lazy” single mothers living in poverty ought to rise up and find a way to generate extra cash other than their entitlements by the government.


From the discussions, it is evident that single mothers are a minority group in the society, and they need recognition and protection. The society and the government should invent and invest in long lasting solutions to alleviate poverty. The solutions would relieve the government from the burden of overdependence on financial support, and this will consequently relieve the taxpayer.


Albelda, R. (2011). Time binds: US antipoverty policies, poverty, and the well-being of single mothers. Feminist Economics, 17(4), 189-214. Web.

Brandy, D., & Burroway, R. (2012). Targeting, universalism, and single-mother poverty: A multilevel analysis across 18 affluent democracies. Demography, 49(1), 719-746. Web.

Eshbaugh, E. (2009). Socioeconomic predictors of mastery among mothers in poverty. Journal of Poverty, 13(1), 426-440. Web.

Iwata, M. (2007). Identifying the poor: Analysis of impoverished single-mother households. Journal of Poverty, 11(3), 29-45. Web.

Johnson, J.A., Honnold, J.A., Threlfall, P. (2011). Impact of social capital on employment and marriage among low-income single mothers. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 38(4), 9-31. Web.

Ridge, T., & Millar, J. (2010). Following families: Working lone-mother families and their children. Social Policy & Administration, 45(1), 85-97. Web.

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