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Credit: flickr Leon Fishman

Is there a stigma against single mothers in our society?

Sometimes last year, a friend was chatting me up and he said he wanted us to write something about the stigma on single mothers especially the ones between ages 20-25, at that time it didn’t really make sense to me because I didn’t know if single mothers were being stigmatized. I got him to explain more on what he meant and he shared his own personal story with me.

He met this amazing lady, she’s in her early 20s and they started kicking things together. The going was great and everything cool until she told him she’s a mother of one. And he said immediately in his mind he judged her just like our society does single mothers. He couldn’t tell her how he truly felt at that point but in his mind he knew he couldn’t be with someone that has a kid. Questions like ‘how can I be with you and your child?’ started coming up in his head, ‘how were you so reckless at such young age that you have a child already? You must have been some type of bad girl for this to happen. No I can’t be with someone so irresponsible and now be responsible for her mistake’ all this thoughts ran through his head while he was just there looking at her.

He knew he had become the society by being so judgmental about someone’s past, he didn’t understand why his mind flipped just like that, deep down he knew he was wrong for condemning her, and he thought the only he could feel better was to at least know why he had judged her so bad maybe that’ll make him feel better and he wouldn’t feel like he was wrong for thinking she was such a bad girl. This reason is why he wanted us to write something on this, because we’ll have to make some research and he’ll be able to get answers from the outcome.

After months of asking questions, we got enough answers and some did play in favor of his thoughts while some made him feel like he was a heartless human being. As we all know, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and people would rather stick to what works for them even if it’s not usually the right thing or the right move. Some of the answers we got are identified below:

First one was from Twitter, and the tweet reads ‘the society would embrace someone who they do not know has had multiple abortions and ridicule someone who decides to keep that one pregnancy and make a life out of it‘. This obviously points to how the society judges single mothers. I don’t think abortion is acceptable in any religion but most people go for that sin just to cover up another sin that seemingly comes with a bigger shame by keeping the pregnancy. I mean no one would know if you don’t tell them you had an abortion but the world would see the big belly and a possible resemblance of the child when it comes to life.

Second thing I found out was that it’s even more difficult for divorced/single mothers than females that get caught up in a relationship. Someone explained to me how we live in an African society where a woman’s marital status is the biggest achievement the society recognizes. In her words she said ‘No matter how educated or sophisticated a single mother might be or appear, there’s always this sentiment about her as she’s often regarded as irresponsible and often accorded with little or no respect’ and this is because ‘the African mentality believes in the fact that a woman’s head (Ade ori in Yoruba) is her husband.’ therefore a woman without a husband is headless. So if a woman leaves her marriage with her children the chances of her getting a man that’ll except her is close to impossible, because apparently no man wants to carry another mans baggage.

The third thing I realized was that this stigma often comes from within. Most people would cry out that they’ve brought shame on their family, and wonder how they’ll be looked upon at their place of worship. I know the society is to blame for making them think this way but even before the society is aware of the situation they’ve crucified themselves on the inside. They already feel worthless and irresponsible. They don’t even want to take the chance of bringing it up to their family maybe they won’t reject the situation, they’d rather get rid of the pregnancy than take that chance.

Also why would a guy put a girl in the family way and let go of her, love is blind they say and so was the girl. The guy and the girl had something serious and the girl out of being gullible would have thought the guy was the “man” because everything was going on smooth and sweet until she became pregnant.

If something like this happens, the parents have a big role to play in making them understand a lot about it, the guy’s parent especially, they have to let the boy understand what it means to own up to one’s mistake and learn lessons from it, the girl’s parents on the other hand wouldn’t have a choice than to embrace their daughter and the child and take care of her. But in most cases, the guy runs away or denies the pregnancy.

Not like I’m in support of getting pregnant out of wedlock or getting divorces, but we live in a world where no one is perfect and things like this happen on a daily basis. I for one think having a child regardless of the circumstance is a blessing and I’m definitely not a fan of abortion. But everyone for sure would go for what they think works for them.

Everyone I asked apparently feels there’s a stigma on single mothers in our society, but we could start a revolutionary change by accepting them and not treating them like they are sluts and making them feel like they are irresponsible because of their mistakes. Their mistake is bringing in a life to the world not taking one.

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