Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Working Single Mothers and Their Children

My! How the times have changed. It seems that just yesterday the normal home consisted of one man and one woman and all their little children. The mother remained at home, caring for the immediate needs of her family (for example: laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc…) and the men were the ones who worked outside the home earning the income for the family to live off of. Today the scene is maybe not quite completely opposite, but very close. Not only do the men work outside the home, but women are also. Where does that leave the children? The children that are school-age are in school for at least eight hours of the day – then possibly latchkey, other after-school programs, a family members’ or friends’ house, or possibly even home alone until either or both of their parents can make it home. What about the children who aren’t school-age yet? Those are the kids who usually populate the daycares – they arrive at 6:00 AM and don’t see their mom or dad again until 6:00 PM. It’s not unusual for these children to spend an average of three hours or less with their parents each weekday – an hour before they go to daycare and about two hours after they get picked up from daycare (which includes dinner, a few minutes to play, a bath if needed, and bedtime). Working in daycare for any amount of time at all one will hear every “reason”, “excuse”, and “fact” that they could possibly imagine.

· “Even if I didn’t work my child would still be enrolled in daycare because we just can’t handle her at home. She’s out of control and drives us crazy!”

· “I know it’s my day off, but… I just need a break. There’s just no rest when the kids are home.”

· “I wish this center wasn’t closed on the holidays! I could get so much done if the kids weren’t constantly getting under my feet.”

· “I know she’s three years old, but I don’t want her having accidents when we’re out and about. I’m just not ready to start potty-training her yet.”

· “How do these parents do it? I mean, I’m so glad the weekends over. I don’t think I could take one more full-day with these kids! I’m dreading summer-time… thank God for daycare!”

These are only a few of the things that a caregiver will hear from the parents of the children enrolled in their program. It’s called “parenting” for a reason. The word “parent” means “one who is a protector or guardian; one who nurtures and raises a child; one who brings up, rears.” As parents, they are to be the ones who teach their children right from wrong; they are to be the ones who teaches them important issues of life; they are to be the ones who should be watching their children grow up and creating memories with them – not the caregivers and the teachers. Some parents purposely work overtime to avoid having to be home with the rest of the family. A wise man once said: “On their deathbed nobody has ever wished they had spent more time at the office.” One day parents will look back on the years which they hid from when their children were growing up and wish they could go back and redo how and who they spent those years with. Why don’t children want to grow up and be “just like daddy” anymore? Why is it rare for girls to say that they hope they can be as good as a mom someday as their mother was? It’s because their parents are never around. Children these days rarely see how real parents are supposed to be.

Let’s look at it from this angle though. Many children today grow up in single-parent homes, and many of those single-parents homes are headed by the mothers. The remainder of this report will be focused on single mothers and its effect on their children.

Most of the time it’s not a woman’s first choice to be a single mother. However, there are those exceptional few though. A recent study showed that there are 12,905,000 one-parent families in the United States. Of those families 10,404,000 are headed by women; that leaves 2,501,000 families that are headed by men. Out of the women who are working of the 10,404,000 families that are headed by the mother, approximately 5% earn more than $75,000 per year; about 14% earn more than $50,000 per year; and roughly 22% earn more than $30,000 per year. This leaves the remaining 59% of single mothers earning less than $30,000 per year, unless they are supported by their parents, other extended family members, or rely on help from the state or federal government (which ultimately means the United States’ citizens’ hard-earned income – their tax dollars). Granted, some women do receive child support from the child’s father, but that does not cover the complete cost that it takes to support a child, or two or three depending on the situation.

Perhaps the reason for the income levels for these single-mothered homes are so low is due to the education level of the mother. The higher the education, the better the job one can obtain. More than 80% of single mothers lack the education they need to advance in their career.

It is difficult to find a well-paying job if one does not have some kind of degree or another – especially with the economy the way it is today. The higher an individual’s education level is the better chance they’ll have at finding a good job, or at least being more safe from layoffs than someone without as high of an education level as them. 83% of single mothers have a high school diploma, 33% of single mothers have some college education, and 16% of single mothers have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Since the mothers obviously have to work to be able to support their children, the children must be placed in someone else care while the mother’s at work. The most common thing would be to enroll the child in daycare or some sort of after-school program. These programs are not cheap, unless the mother gets assistance from either the state or federal government. Chances are, if the mother can afford to pay for childcare she’ll have to work full-time, leaving her child at the daycare for anywhere between eight to twelve hours a day (excluding main holidays and days when her child is too sick to attend daycare). With this comes a sense of guilt for the mother – feeling bad for having to go all week without seeing or spending much time with her child at all, she will tend to spoil them and let them have their way when they are home as a way of apologizing. Discipline is rarely seen in today’s day. Parents find “time outs” and “lectures” better for their children. However, the Bible says “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (534). Children no longer fear their parents – they no longer fear being punished and feeling the consequences for their actions. Parents are more concerned with being their child’s “friend” instead of being their “parent”. It’s not wrong for someone to have a great relationship and friendship with their children, but being a parent is their first priority. People should not be concerned with whether or not their kids think they’re “cool” or not; what they should be concerned with is that their child turns out right. If this is the case one day their children will thank them for caring enough to discipline and teach them right from wrong. This is not helping the child at all by any means. In a recent poll taken in 2007 by the PewResearchCenter© where working mothers were asked to rate themselves on a scale of zero-to-ten on how they feel they have done so far as being a parent. This was the outcome of that poll:

Perhaps other means of childcare could be found – perhaps a grandparent or other relative, a close and trusted friend, or even an in-home childcare where her child would get more one-on-one interaction while receiving more domesticated care. However, I dare to say that very few ever take the time to even look into these options – especially if they’re receiving financial assistance from an outside source. There is yet another option though. There is the possibility that, depending on what the line of work the mother is employed in, she could do her work from home. Surprisingly, a lot of places of employment will allow their employees to set up an in-home office and do most of their work from home, with the exception of required occasional routine visits to the office, meetings, conferences, and staff call attendance, and any other group projects or work that absolutely must be done onsite within the actual office location.

Out of all these options, it’s safe to say that most women enroll their children in a daycare. Throughout the week her children are exposed to all sorts of influences ranging from that of their friends, teachers, caregivers, and other families. These influences are not always good, especially if her child is more concerned with being popular and accepted by everyone else who’s part of the “in crowd”. Studies have shown that children who are raised in one-parent homes are more likely to be influenced to:

· have behavioral and/or attitude problems

· do badly in or drop out of high school

· be involved in a crime

· suffer from mental instability

· do drugs, smoke, abuse prescription drugs and medication

· become sexually active at an early age

· consume alcohol (underage drinking)

· be jobless

· have relationship issues

· become single parents themselves

· suffer from poor health

· never attend college

· be unhappy with their life

Kids, and especially teenagers, need their parents there to encourage them and share wisdom with them. Teenagers need to feel accepted – and when they don’t find such comports at home they turn to other sources. Illegal drug usage, alcohol abuse, and sexual activity are rapidly rising and taking over the youth of America. All of which could be eliminated, or at least greatly lessened in their lives is parents would but take a little extra time to remind their children that they love them and that they’re here for them should they ever need any help. Perhaps such actions would even save some lives. Looking around it is very evident and easy to notice that today’s youth are very troubled – they are searching for answers, but to no avail. Here are some statistics based on the above mentioned list that some would call “shocking” – but, honestly, when it’s given any amount of thought at all, they really are not that shocking at all. Every day in America:

- 2,989 children witness the divorce of their parents

- 3,288 teenagers will run away from home

- 6 teenagers will commit suicide

- 438 teenagers will be arrested for drinking

- 211 teenagers will be arrested for drug-related crimes

- 2,861 teenagers will drop out of school

- 1,629 teenagers are placed in an adult jail for some reason

- 7,742 teenagers become sexually active

- 1,106 teenage girls become pregnant

- 8,219 teenagers acquire a sexually transmitted disease

When compared to where America once stood – it is sad to see how far she has now come. Being human though, everyone will make mistakes – no one is above falling.

It is not natural nor is it normal – or at least it shouldn’t be normal – for children to only be raised by only one of their parents. God created the family to consist of one man, one woman, and their children. Today the normal family consists of one man OR one woman with children from one man or one women OR several men and women. Family values are rare to find these days, and most of the time the values that can be found have been greatly cheapened by society. Little boys need a father-figure in their life where they can better learn how to be a real man, take responsibility for their actions, and treat women with respect. Little girls need a mother figure in their life so they can be taught how to be a good mother someday when their time comes, care for a home, and learn how to be a lady. The media and advertisement companies do nothing to help this problem – instead, they make it greater. The media portrays parents as being stupid and the enemy. The media promotes seeking advice from peers and friends, attending wild parties, shirking responsibility, blaming someone else for one’s problems, alcohol and drug abuse, sex before marriage instead of abstinence, and so much more.

I understand that there are valid reasons for a number of single-parent homes that are prevalent in our great country. These exceptions would include death of a spouse, divorce due to abusive relationships or a spouse cheating, adoption, or lack of responsibility on the negligent parent; however, most of the single-parent homes are caused by so-called “grown-ups” not acting like grown-ups. Commitments and promises of “forever” are broken, casual sex is more common than it should be – especially by those who are too young and immature to be having sex, and morals have gone out the window. Yet people wonder why kids and teenagers are so confused these days? People get frustrated with the mistakes they see them making every day that will hurt them for the rest of their lives. People wonder why kids never want to be with mom or dad, but would rather spend time with the kids down the street. Well, there is an answer for that question. Look at the daily example these kids are getting by watching their parents live. Once again, look at all the lies and garbage the media fills their minds with on a day-to-day basis. It’s no wonder to at all. It all starts at home. Children need their parents; they need good, moral role models in their lives; they need real, true, solid answers for when they have questions – and if the truth be told, very few kids and teenagers today have that in their lives. It’s time for parents to step up and be a real “parent”; our kids need us – more today than ever.

© Heather Vires 2009, all rights reserved.

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I am Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! I am intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. I have a good head on my shoulders, and oftentimes find myself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. I take great pleasure in many things. I am proficient in nearly all of them, though I will never own it. Lest I seem too perfect, I have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves me very ill indeed.

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