Raising children as a single parent can be ultra-stressful, exhausting and a non-stop juggling act. Those navigating the parenting road without a partner can take some small comfort in knowing they are far from alone. Single moms and dads headed up nearly 12.3 million households in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with single moms taking on the vast majority of the burden, caring for more than 10.3 million kids.
The Stats on Single Parents
The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that, as of 2011, single parents are raising 35 percent of the nation’s children. Trends tend to vary by region, with the South representing a much higher than average number. 55 percent of kids in Mississippi, for instance, reside in single-parent homes, followed by 53 percent of kids in Louisiana. By contrast, just 19 percent of kids in Utah have single parents. The past generation has seen a significant rise in the number of children born to never-married mothers, according to a 2010 report by the Population Reference Bureau.
The Role of Ethnicity
The division of children between one- and two-parent households appears to vary widely based on ethnicity, the PRB report indicates. About 16 percent of white children live with single moms, compared to 27 percent of Latino children and 52 percent of African American children.
Challenges Facing Single Parents
Among the many challenges facing the millions of single parents are poverty, limited access to health insurance, difficulty securing affordable child care and lack of financial support from the absent parent. Despite the fact that 75 percent of single mothers are employed, the PRB reports 70 percent of children living with single moms are considered poor or low income. The parent’s age, education level and ability to secure higher-paying jobs all impact the bottom line. In the U.S., more than half of low income mothers are under age 34, and 61 percent lack a college education.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic offer these tips to those struggling with single parenthood: Seek help from family members, friends, neighbors and support groups. Take care of yourself by exercising, getting enough sleep and eating well. Establish and follow a routine with your kids; structure helps everyone cope. Enjoy your children, stay positive and be sure to express your love and support.