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‘We Need to Strengthen the Safety Net’

Society should change its approach To single parents, group says

Single parenthood often is described as exhausting, overwhelming and lonely. As one of the leading predictors of poverty, single-parenthood leads to financial strain. And many single parents describe feelings of alienation from society, even in churches where they hope to find healing.

These issues and more were topics of discussion during the Oklahoma Leadership Conference: A Focus on Single-Parent Families hosted last month by the Single Parent Support Network, a local nonprofit.

“The objective of the conference was to bring community leaders together and create an environment where people could learn about issues facing single parents and provide new ways of dealing with those issues,” said Rhonda Thomas, executive director of the Single Parent Support Network.

The conference featured guest speakers and issue-specific panel discussions focusing on the social, emotional and financial aspects of single-parenting. Ideas as to what resources exist--or could exist--to remedy those challenges also were discussed.

Single vs. partnered parents

Single mothers report experiencing less happiness, more sadness, more stress and more fatigue in parenting than partnered mothers, according to a 2016 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and National Institutes of Health.

“Single parents are less well-off emotionally than married parents; for example, single parents have higher levels of depression, less satisfaction in parenting and lower levels of happiness,” the study said.

In addition to depression, stress and fatigue, income loss and poverty put not only parents, but also children, at risk.

“Income loss appears to affect the well-being of children indirectly through negative impact on family relations and parenting. Single parents experience a variety of stressors related to poverty (i.e., financial, emotional, social). The link between economic stress and mental health has been documented in various studies. Single mothers must obtain sufficient money to cover the most basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing,” author Jacqueline Kirby wrote in a paper for the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery at Ohio State University. ...To read more, subscribe to the blackchronicle newspaper