I was raised by a single mother. From the time I was 8 until I left home for university, my mom was the sole provider and caretaker for my family.
I remember how her body used to tense in reaction to the constant question: "Where is Jasmine's father?" She would inhale and exhale and push her shoulders back. "I'm a single mother," she would respond without a single ounce of guilt or shame in her voice. My mother: the bedrock of our family. She was imperfect, and often difficult, but always a demonstration of what resiliency looks like.
The trope of the unwed mother can shape how society views women raising children alone. Single mothers are looked at as though they are a drain on society, irresponsible or promiscuous. Those stereotypes couldn't be further from the truth. The data shows that single mothers work more hours than their married or partnered peers and are more likely to have more than one job. If single mothers aren't thriving, it is society's fault and no fault of their own.
I wanted to take a look at single mothers who are subverting the shame messaging from society, thriving and building strong families despite the ways they are judged, so I talked to three single moms who are doing just that.
Andrea, restaurant industry advocate and professional
Andrea has been a single mother since the birth of her now 10-year-old son, Phoenix. She doesn’t mince words about the hardships of being a single parent.
“I teach [my son] that it's hard but filled with love. I teach him that it's an important job and right now I'm not here to be there friend. I'm here to say 'no' and to clear the road to adulthood the best way I know how, with the things I have access to.”
Andrea also models relational humility, “I also teach him that sometimes I'm wrong. And I don't have all the answers, but I will always figure it out.”
Tabatha, graduate student and nonprofit employee
Tabitha has been a single mom for the last four years to her 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
"My favorite thing about being a single mom is not having to cater my parenting to another human," she says. "I can teach my children values and norms in line with my experiences and education without having to validate myself to another adult first."
Tasha, nursing educator and case manager
Tasha is a mother of two and says she really enjoys the environment she has created for kids that don’t include toxic and harmful habits. She doesn’t shy away when she makes a mistake or when things are hard.
“Admitting when I’ve made a mistake or fallen short is essential,” she says. “Just the other day, my 6-year-old called me out for not being consistently respectful with him.”