While everyone knows it’s hard to be a single mother, young single mothers have almost impossible hurdles to overcome to keep from falling into poverty. Young single mothers usually are comprised of young adults between the ages of 13 to 20 years of age. They are the segment of the population most likely to end up on welfare with 75% of them going on public assistance within five years of the birth of their first child.
Single mothers who have become so through the death of a spouse or divorce, or even by choice, often have gotten to the stage in their lives when they have finished high school and have been in the employment market previously and obtained some skills. However, young single mothers often become pregnant before finishing high school and subsequently they drop out. This impacts their ability to get employment or move up the economic ladder for their entire lifetime, if the situation is not rectified.
Unfortunately, it may be difficult for young single mothers to return to school after the birth of a child. Due to their youth, many single mothers have poor nutritional status and habits like drinking alcohol or smoking that can adversely affect the health of the baby once it’s born. There are also studies that babies born to teenage mothers often suffer from low birth weight, which leads to further health complications down the road. As the children grow, the statistics show that many will be at risk for being retain one grade in school or doing poorly on scholastic achievement tests. While the male children have a higher risk of being imprisoned, the female children have a higher risk of repeating the single mother cycle themselves.
Cultural issues of propriety and faith may also keep a single mother from returning to complete her education. She may be influenced by her parents to either get married quickly to the child’s father or to return home to raise her child without finishing school. Either way, her education is halted and her ability to earn income for her children is significantly derailed. She more than likely will end up on welfare.
There are statistics that show that even after young single mothers reach the age of 30 only 1.5% of them mange to earn a college degree. Many programs aim at trying to keep the mother in school, but childcare becomes a primary issue as it is with all single mothers. With a limited support system at home and lost time in school, the lives of young single mothers are very difficult.