Stats on Single Mums in Australia
I preached a sermon last Sunday on James 1:26-27, where pure and faultless religion consists of ‘looking after orphans and widows in their distress’. In the process of thinking about what were modern-day examples of vulnerable social groups in distress in our society, I came across this study done in 2008 by the Parenting Research Centre on single mothers:
- 1 in 5 families with children under the age of 15 is headed by a single parent. 87% by single mothers.
- Single mothers are providing 70% to 100% of their children’s care, with the majority responsible for 66% to 97% of the costs of raising their children.
- 75% of single parents are raising children on incomes below $20,000.
- Because of the challenges and isolation, they are twice as likely to experience depression as women who have partners.
Let me quote some more bits from their study:
Research highlights that the initial transition to becoming a single mother can be one of the most challenging periods for single mothers and their parenting. For many women, becoming a single mother is a time of tremendous upheaval and life-changing circumstances.
Most people find it harder to parent when they are feeling stressed and anxious. Day-to-day parenting, like coping with sleeplessness or their children’s behaviour, is the same for single mothers. The difference is that single mothers are on their own and usually can’t rely on the daily support of the other parent in providing time out from parenting, affirmation and support with decisions.
The transition to becoming a single mother can carry considerable personal and parenting stresses, such as moving house, changing jobs, changing work hours, having less money, taking on more domestic and child-care duties or losing neighbourhood or friendship supports. Single mothers also tell us that there are complexities in dealing with the legalities and paperwork required by their new status. And many single mothers whose relationships break down are escaping from violence (25% separating women victims of physical or sexual violence).
Our community (and might I add: our churches!) can sometimes be harsh and unsympathetic towards single mothers in their role as parents and providers, and single mothers tell us that stigma and discrimination are an additional burden for them and their children.