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Help for Unwed Single Mothers

The February 18th New York Times front page ran a very disturbing article entitled, “Unwed Mothers Now A Majority Before Age Of 30.” The article went on to describe the fact that now more than half of births to American woman under 30 occur outside of marriage. I couldn’t believe my eyes, “more than half.” This is not just a small number of women who made the wrong choices due to things like immaturity or accident. This appears to represent a growing change in expectations regarding love-life, child rearing, and family living.

What really makes this disturbing is the related recurrent finding that children raised with single parents have a greater emotional burden to deal with. This finding keeps showing up in the research. My fear is this statistic indicates that things like making love commitments and deeper forms of intimacy are getting harder for young people. We as a society must do what we can to teach our children, adolescents, and young adults about the importance of preparing for and sustaining love in their lives. When these ‘lessons of love’ are provided by matured parents and other adults who know what love is, these lessons have a maturing effect on our young. Beyond this, we have an obligation to show them by example that our love is cherished by the love relationships we create with the people who are loved.  Dr. T. Jordan

In my clinical work, I have cared for a number of unwed mothers experiencing the emotional burdens of adult dependency on their families of origin, difficulties caring for children who feel abandoned by an absent parent, and love-life rejection occurring due to the fact that they are unwed mothers. This emotional burden on the parent often results in depressions, recurrent anxiety, low self-esteem, or abusive relationships. The primary objective in treatment is to strengthen the self-esteem of the single mother while introducing them to the lessons of love inherent in a healthy love relationship. As they psychologically ‘grow up’ in the treatment they begin to take more autonomous charge of their lives and become more discriminating in their love-lives. As their self-esteem improves, so does their love-lives. Not only that, their children benefit because single mothers become better parents when they feel better about themselves. The emotional burden on their children naturally lessens.

I have learned over the years that it is not single parenting that creates the emotional burdens for children, that is only a superficial analysis. The real problem is the psychological well being of the mother. A single mother, or father for that matter, who is emotionally matured can raise a confident and competent child as well as any two parents can. What matters is the emotional maturity of the parent and the lessons of love she or he is able to teach their children. We as a society will help subsequent generations by making sure unwed single mothers are given the opportunities they need to grow as individuals and parents.

I am planning to create a future podcast for single mothers with the hope of organizing some of these thoughts into the kind of love-life lessons needed. To be continued…..

Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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