Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

November 12, 2012

generations of single moms

Kim is 26, she’s never been married or lived with a man and she has three small daughters and a dead-end job. In every respect she is following in the footsteps of her mother and her grandmother - both of whom had been in Kim’s situation twenty-three and fifty years ago respectively.

"My sisters, one older and one younger," explains Kim, "don’t want any children, and I suppose it’s odd that my mother and her mother were middle children, too, but that’s how it turned out for us."

"It's really amazing," sighs Kim. "Women may have come a long way since the 1950s when they had little more expectation of life beyond marriage, motherhood and housework, but the plight of single working mothers has changed very little."

"We are vulnerable women," explains Kim, "and our workplaces are often hostile to our needs and the welfare of our children. We are charged not only with providing a safe, stable and happy home for our children but also, in many cases, their full financial support. We are often in conflict between the demands of our job and our duties as a mother. And nobody cares."

Considering how the world has changed in fifty years, as well as the institution of marriage, it is mind boggling to Kim that so little has changed between our time and our mother's time - and our grandmother’s time - in respect to help for single working mothers.

"Frankly," says Kim, "I don’t see things being much better for my daughters in years to come than they were for me."

"Let's face it," says Kim. "the natural urge to become a mother, and the powerful maternal bond that Nature intended between mother and child, just does not sit easily with the demands of work. Most single working mothers give up and accept welfare as the only way to survive, and I don’t blame them."

"The feminist movement of the 1960s did a great deal to break down the barriers for women in the workforce," she says, "but no amount of action it seems will ever convince employers that pregnant women, lactating women, women with small children and especially single working mothers are a good risk."

"Our competency is not in question," she says, "just our priorities."

Kim maintains that the number of workplaces with facilities for children and supportive employment plans for working mothers - single or not - is abysmal.

"There may be a lot of stuff on paper that says we are entitled to equal pay, equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination," says Kim, "but in practice little has changed in respect to single working mothers since the feminist movement started in the 1960s."

"Traditionally," explains Kim, "women stayed home to care for their children during their formative years. The first seven years of a child's life has been proven to be vital for his or her future development, and that being the case wouldn’t you expect that working mothers - especially single working mothers - get more support than they do?"

"After all, we're raising the next generation," says Kim, "and my kids are going to be supporting all the old politicians and business tycoons in their old age!"

"Actually," says Kim, "bearing in mind that mothers before the 1960s were encouraged to stay at home and care for their children - and most single mothers received some sort of welfare entitlement in acknowledgement of the social contribution they were making towards building a nation - it’s debatable whether we have progressed at all."

"In encouraging us to have kids and go to work, governments are devaluing our children and the incredibly hard job we do raising them."

"The bottom line, unfortunately," Kim points out, "is that nobody really cares. Single working mothers are still a minority group and that’s the way employers want to keep us. Why? Because we’re easy targets for the dead-end jobs, that’s why!"

"I don't see anything changing for single working mothers in workplaces," sighs Kim. "All the perks and tax breaks that are available are more beneficial to married working mothers than single working mothers."

"On a personal level, though," adds Kim, "I see cloning becoming a huge inducement for more single women to choose to become single mothers. If the technology had been around a few years ago, I would most certainly have got myself cloned rather than getting involved with a guy or going to a sperm bank."

"The prospect of giving birth to my clone and watching her grow up to look like me, but not exactly be me," muses Kim, "fills me with fantastic wonder."

"If I have to work in a boring, menial job just because I'm a single working mother," laughs Kim, "then I may as well do something spectacular with my private life. And getting myself cloned is something I just might consider!"

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