Single motherhood does not make women unhappy

April 22, 2014
Credit: Marty from Manitou Springs, USA. Via Wikipedia.

(Medical Xpress)—Raising a child outside of marriage poses many challenges – but does not have a negative impact on women's happiness, according to new research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Single motherhood is often seen as a reason for a number of life adversities. Single mothers need to handle organizational and financial pressures. They also suffer from a lack of partner support, and social disapproval of bearing and rearing on their own. In this new study researchers from Umeå University, Wittgenstein Centre in Austria, Warsaw School of Economics and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Poland, shows that it is not the arrival of a child per se that leads to a decline in ' happiness.

"Despite all of the difficulties and problems— or maybe because of them— the children are moved to the absolute center of the woman's universe and they are the brightest aspect of their lives, " says Monika Mynarska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. "Moreover, children often give women the power to make decisions they had not been able to make before pregnancy."

Specifically, being responsible for the child's well-being helped many of the interviewed women escape unhappy or pathological relationships, and made them more cautious and demanding when getting involved with a new partner. Hence, becoming a mother might move a woman's life onto a "better track".

These findings, stemming from in-depth interviews, are further supported by the analyses of nationally representative survey in Poland, which show that the positive aspects of lone motherhood counterbalanced the negative ones.

"An arrival of a child either had no impact or even increases the happiness of the single mothers" says Anna Baranowska-Rataj, Umeå University.

The study combines insights from both in-depth interviews with mothers who gave birth while single and a large-scale panel survey that follows individuals over time for over a decade. This combination of methods allowed for exploring the possible mechanisms through which motherhood may raise or reduce happiness and – in a second step – to quantify these influences and see whether they really have impact in the whole population of single mothers.

The study is conducted in Poland, a country where the degree of acceptance of nonmarital childbearing is still relatively low and the welfare state support for lone mothers is very limited. Given these unfavorable conditions, one could expect strong negative effects of having a child on the of women who have no partners.

"All in all, we found no evidence to support the assumption that the lives of women who became single would have turned out better if they had not given birth and had not decided to raise on their own", concludes Anna Matysiak, Wittgenstein Centre.

Explore further: Kids of single moms who later marry reap few benefits

More information: Does Lone Motherhood Decrease Women's Happiness? Evidence from Qualitative and Quantitative Research, link.springer.com/article/10.1 … 07/s10902-013-9486-z

Related Stories

Kids of single moms who later marry reap few benefits

October 11, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—With roughly four in 10 of all U.S. births now to unwed mothers, a new longitudinal study by Cornell demographers is the first to show that being raised in a single-parent home poses significant risks to ...

No maternity leave for women using surrogates: EU top court

March 18, 2014
Women who use surrogate mothers to have a child do not have a legal right to maternity leave when the baby is born, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday.

Grandparents may worsen some moms' baby blues

April 4, 2014
Does living with grandparents ease or worsen a mothers' baby blues? The answer may depend on the mother's marital status, a new study from Duke University suggests.

The parenthood paradox: Certain parenting beliefs are detrimental to mothers' mental health

July 5, 2012
Does being an intense mother make women unhappy? According to a new study by Kathryn Rizzo and colleagues, from the University of Mary Washington in the US, women who believe in intensive parenting - i.e., that women are ...

Recommended for you

Depression changes structure of the brain, study suggests

July 21, 2017
Changes in the brain's structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.