The Evolution Of The “Single Black Mom”

Last Updated on August 31, 2023 by Lori Pace

The first is that the term “single mom” can lead society to make enormous assumptions about the nature of parenting. A “single parent” is someone who does not live with a spouse, whether they are divorced, widowed or never married. Although single-parent households are dominated by women, the term “single mom“, or even more specific “black single mom”, can lead to political and economic categories that ignore the complexity of relationships between the socially constructed ends of married and single. 

It is difficult to find the right language in larger political and social cultures to explain how people build households. The term “solo” refers to parents who raise a child without any support (parent or partner). These types of categories (single or solo) can be limited in national disseminated, family-focused research. 

This could limit our ability to fully understand the complicated ways that black unmarried parents raise their children. These words, ideas, and messages can have a significant impact on the perceptions of women and men about themselves, their families and their futures.

The “Invisibility” Of Black Fathers Create The Situation Of Single Black Mom

American culture does not allow Black men to be made invisible. The Myth of the Missing Black Father explains that Black fathers are often not seen as being deeply embedded in the families they create. Black families and Black communities will face more problems if they are not visible as fathers.

It is not possible to ignore the fact some fathers do not attend due to their own decision — they may choose not participate in certain seasons or lives. There are many fathers who make a difference to their children in varying ways. Black fathers are present, if no more, than fathers of other racial backgrounds. We should not accept the idea that something is better or worse than another, but we can still give life and voice to that thing. Perhaps by doing this, we can see the potential for what we are focusing on to grow over time.

A higher proportion of Black women are more likely to be “single” parents. It would appear that parents who are not in a romantic relationship (married or cohabiting) with their children, are said to be “single” or alone in their parenting journey. 

The “Invisibility” Of Black Fathers

The term “single” is a one-word expression that means only one. This leads to harmful assumptions about biological fathers being absent from the parenting process. This binary dichotomy leaves little room for all the kinship resources that can help with child rearing. These include care providers like grandparents, family friends, aunts and uncles. Fathers may also have less space to contribute in the emotional, economic, logistical and spiritual dimensions.

The lack of awareness about the many ways that parenting happens and the various factors that affect it may explain why 66% of Americans who participated in the PEW survey believe single mothers are bad for society.

Spectrums Vs Categories Of Single Black Mom

Single Parents don’t help themselves by using categorical defaults. Black Single Mothers have the power, the ability and the responsibility to create the narrative that will be the story of our children, and ultimately, our community. If the term “single”accurately describes a woman’s parenting experience, then she should use it. We should not just use this term because it’s the only one we have. The terms unmarried and married are more precise and sufficient if the goal is to determine the mother’s marital status.

Spectrums Vs Categories Of Single Black Mom
Married/unmarried/never-married/co-parenting single mom?

Black parents engage in parenting practices that are not often in the “Single Black Mother” narrative. Research shows that many Black mothers share parenting responsibilities with their “Baby Daddy” in a variety of ways. There is however a gap in empirical knowledge because most research on Black parents focuses only on families of lower socioeconomic status. Therefore this may mean that co-parenting may not be possible for some reasons. 

People think that being single means that you are raising your children without any fathers. But that is not the case. Co-parenting is becoming more popular. While co-parenting is applicable to a range of family structures, a large portion of the research links to marital, divorced, or kinship co-parenting relationships and is less about co parenting among biological, unmarried/never-married parents

The Power Of Black Women’s Freedom Of Speech

Each story is unique, and each one ties Black fathers and mothers together. This article does not attempt to minimize the complexities of Black parenting, romanticize Black parenting, or create a single narrative about parenting. This essay is an appeal to recognize, evaluate, and (if applicable) reject the internalization of a narrative on Black families versus one by the Black families.

Let’s make space for the things that are worthy of living. Black women have the opportunity to redefine their parenting experience and make it more dimensional than categorical. This can happen from a position that is authentic and powerful. 

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!