The Many Reasons Single Moms Are Happier Than Married Moms, Says Science

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Self

More women are choosing to become single moms than ever before.

Several years ago, my fortieth birthday fast approaching, I forced myself to ask whether I wanted to have a kid even though I didn’t yet have a partner. I knew my fertility window was closing and Mr. Right was decidedly absent.

And so, I made the anguished decision to have a baby on my own via a sperm donor. I chose to become a single mom.

In making the decision, I felt I was giving up on half the dream. I beat myself up at failing at an aspect of life so prized by society — partnership and getting married.


RELATED: 8 Reasons Being A Single Mom Actually Makes You Better At Dating


Until recently, it’s been the norm for women to marry. Remaining single, especially as a woman, has been seen as undesirable and to be avoided all costs. Kate Bolick, author of Spinster: The Making of One’s Life, states, "The single woman is nearly always considered an anomaly, an aberration from the social order."

But for many women, dating and marrying Mr. Right before having kids simply isn't working.

On top of that, single moms are regularly blamed for many of society’s problems, seen as drains on society.

I was told by my parents over and over again that I needed to get married. I remember them breathing a sigh of relief when my sister got married. They explained that they felt she was now adequately taken care of. They could relax a little.

But despite the messages many of us received growing up, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that the public is less convinced that marriage and family are the highest priority for society. When survey respondents were asked which of the following statements came closer to their own views, 46 percent of adults chose “Society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority,” while 50 percent chose “Society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”

And, if you look at people aged 18 to 29 the number of people who believe society is better off when people have priorities other than marriage and kids that number skyrockets to 67 percent.

In fact, most of today’s Americans believe that educational and economic accomplishments are extremely important milestones of adulthood.

In contrast, marriage and parenthood rank low: over half of Americans believe that marrying and having children is not very important in order to become an adult.

So, even though the negative commentary about single moms is still prevalent, choosing to forego marriage and have a child alone isn't strange or detrimental. In fact, it might just be the smarter choice.

And this is reflective in the percentage of single, older mothers who, in recent years, have been the only demographic where single motherhood has increased. In fact, there was a 48 percent jump in births to unmarried women ages 35-39, and 29 percent in women ages 40-44. It’s assumed that most of those older women are like me —choosing to become single mothers.  


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Women are now frequently making the decision to become mothers despite the absence of a spouse or committed partner.

And while society supports this idea more than it has in previous years, there is still a lot of difficulty in being a single parent, and a lot of concerns about the health of the children involved. However, there are some amazing benefits to having children later in life — whether single or not — that can't be ignored.

Many studies support the benefits of older motherhood. One such study showed the children of older mothers also had fewer behavioral, social, and emotional problems than kids of younger mothers. Other studies showed that older mothers lived longer and had taller, smarter kids. And those aren't the only benefits of being an older single mother, either. 

A study comparing the well-being of children growing up in a single-mother-by-choice home and to those of heterosexual two-parent families found no differences in terms of parent-child relationship or child development. The key difference between a child who struggled with behavioral issues as a teenager and one who did not was the presence of one stable loving parent.

In fact, research has shown that one or two parents in a home didn't matter nearly as much as the quality of their family relationships, regardless of the number of parents.

And although many tout relationships as the key to happiness, research shows that being in a relationship doesn’t create higher self-esteem. A recent study found that people who married enjoyed no better self-esteem than those who stayed in romantic relationships without tying the knot. It’s even true that single people have more sex than married adults.

And, despite the long-standing belief that those who marry are healthier, new studies show single adults to be healthier. Women who married gained more weight and drank more than those who stayed single.

Many women decide to parent on their own as a last resort — a Plan B. Yet, not only is it a growing trend — 2017 Census data, a record number of adults in the U.S. remained unmarried (that’s more than 45% of all people 18 years and older) — but there’s much to support it being a happier, healthier choice.

Being a single mother is the single greatest decision I ever made, and science confirms that it could be right for many other women, too.

While It felt devastating to initially give up the white picket fence and the dreamy husband, I wouldn’t do it any other way now. And even though it’s really exhausting to have all aspects of parenting fall to me, there’s a peace that comes from knowing I’m the only one who needs to make those decisions.

My wish is that other women consider solo parenting as a legitimate choice to make — a choice they can make with pride; not one that’s seen as second best. Don't let your single relationship status hold you back from being an amazing parent. Science thinks it’s a great idea — so should you!


RELATED: An Ode To The Exhausted Single Mom: 7 Reasons You're A BAD*SS


Sarah Kowalski is a fertility doula, family building coach, single mom, and an expert in guiding women along the spiritual, emotional and logistical road to motherhood. After conceiving her own son via both egg and sperm donor, she started Motherhood Reimagined to help others realize their dream of parenthood no matter what it takes and authored the book, Motherhood Reimagined: When Becoming A Mother Doesn't Go As Planned. You can follow her on Facebook @motherhoodreimagined or join her support group page on Facebook.

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