Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Your Average Single Mom...

If normal is just a setting on the dryer, then perhaps average should be relegated to baseball stats. Cathy forwarded some November 2009 US Census Bureau statistics from a study* that were pretty eye-opening about the “average” single parent. Approximately 13.7 million single parents in the US today are raising some 21.8 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21). While there are many custodial dads out there, here’s what the “average” single mom entails:

  • Approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers
  • She is divorced or separated (45%), never married (34.2%), widowed (1.7%) or now remarried (19%)
  • She is employed: 79.5% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed, with 49.8% working full time, year-round, and 29.7% working part-time or part-year

  • She and her children don’t live in poverty (73%). A minority receive assistance (22% receive Medicaid, 23.5% receive food stamps, 12% receive some form of public housing or rent subsidy, 5% receive TANF)
  • She is 40+ years old (39.1% of custodial single mothers)

  • She’s raising one child (54% of custodial mothers) with 46% raising two or more children

As fascinating as some of these stats are, what we’re finding at Eve’s Daughters is there is no “average.” Certainly, there are commonalities, but each woman has a story as unique as her fingerprint.

I confess, years ago, that I struggled with my prior “picture” of a single mom. It wasn’t pretty, partly based on where and how I was raised. That picture worked for me…until I became one of them. Then it became personal, and it forced me, humbled, to edit that image. And that’s developed a far greater humility in me to not be so quick to judge, across the board—that I don’t know, can’t know, every person’s back story.

Now, with our organization, maybe that’s why we feel so strongly about developing relationships first and foremost, versus assuming a cookie-cutter approach. Because when we take the time, what we’re hearing goes far beyond average…often into the extraordinary.

Is there a single mom in your life that deserves a second look?

*United States. Census Department. Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007. By Timothy S. Grall. Census, 2009. 26 Feb. 2010

No comments: