NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Single parenting in modern America

According to the U.S Census, single parent families make up around 32% of the 11 million families that have children under the age of 18, with single mothers being the primary parent in 8.5 million of these families.

With this significant number we thought it would be interesting to talk with single mothers on their greatest joys and challenges of raising a child by themselves. We will speak to mothers in a variety of age groups to try and hear from all walks of life.

Jessica Whittemore is a 22-year-old single mother who lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts, with her 2-year-old daughter Chelsea. When asked about one of her greatest joys of parenting Whittemore had this to say, “Chelsea’s personality, she is a wicked funny 2-year-old with a great deal of sass, I also love to play with her and her toys.”

When I asked Whittemore about what some of her challenges are with single parenting she responded with this, “Just being able to get the kids to listen to you, as well as just being able to afford what she needs.”

Whittemore said that her support circle consists of her family; While Whittemore is at work they can drive Chelsea to necessary appointments and watch after her.

Pam Maliszewski is a 41-year-old single mother who lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts, with her 12-year-old daughter Ali Maliszewski. When asked about what one of her greatest joys of parenting was, she responded with this, “You have a friend for life, no matter how mad they may seem at you one minute, you will always have a friend for life.”

When Maliszewski was asked about some the challenges of single parenting she said “Probably not being able to see her as much as I would like to see her, and the differing rules between her father’s house and my house.”

Maliszewski’s support circle consists of her mother and Kristen Isabelle, who has been her best friend for over a decade.

Lastly, we spoke to Sarah Zellen a 21-year-old single mom from Amesbury, Massachusetts, with her 2-year-old Addie. When asked about what she enjoys most about parenting Zellen replied, “My greatest joy of motherhood is knowing that we have a bond that is greater than anything in the world.”

When asked about some of the challenges of being a single mother and how it affects her mentally she responded with a variety of challenges to be had, such as the energy of a 2-year-old compared to that of an adult, and the financial aspect of raising a child.

When asked about her support circle Zellen responded with “I have a huge support system, I live at home with my mom and brothers and they help me anyway they can. On top of this, my grandparents have been overwhelmingly supportive, and my friends have functioned almost as an extension to my family.”

After speaking to these single mothers I noticed a trend where the mothers could talk almost endlessly on the joys of parenting, but when asked about the challenges of single parenting they seemed to think much longer about exactly what the said challenges were.

At the same time, this inside look provides a deeper insight on mothers from a variety of age groups and how they have been able to raise their children in a tender, loving environment despite being on their own.