Single Mothers by Choice: Exploring Misconceptions

"At times it can be overwhelming and our sense of family is different than others, but the love and appreciation I get from my son makes it all worth it."
-Beth K.

"I want my daughter to know that she was brought into this world because she was wanted."
-Emily H.

These are the words from two women who are Single Mothers by Choice (SMC), two successful businesswomen who focused much of their time and energy in their 20s and early 30s on pursuing and establishing careers, knowing what professional milestones they wanted to accomplish, prior to bringing a child into this world.

As Beth Kilmoyer states in the video, being goal-oriented and driven are common characteristics among many Single Mothers by Choice. While no two people are exactly alike, the women in Beth’s Single Mothers by Choice group are all well-established, both financially and professionally, with no sense that they have settled or sacrificed relationships in pursuit of their goals.

Whether this is the first time you have heard the term Single Mother by Choice, you have a friend or family member who is a Single Mother by Choice, or you are a Single Mother by Choice, one thing that can be said to be true is there are many common misconceptions associated with a person choosing to be a single parent.

Today we are here to discuss the facts and break down these misconceptions.

#1 Misconception: I’m in my late 30s - it’s too late to have a child

According to two fertility experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Mindy Christianson and Dr. Chantel Cross, if you are over the age of 35 (considered advanced maternal age), it is not too late to have a child. In fact, approximately 20% of women in the United States have their first child after the age of 35.1

The John Hopkins experts suggest for women over the age of 35 to try getting pregnant on their own for at least six months prior to seeking fertility treatment. If you are not interested or unable to conceive a child on your own, you should consult with a fertility specialist right away. While these are merely suggested guidelines, they can be helpful for women to consider when planning for pregnancy.

#2 Misconception: Single Mothers by Choice are ‘Man-Haters’

As humans, we tend to label or stigmatize things that we do not understand, particularly if something is outside of what society considers to be “normal”. So when a woman decides to have a child on her own without the help or support of a partner, people’s traditional ideas of how children should be conceived and raised could be threatened, causing them to stigmatize the women in an effort to make sense of what they do not understand. But let us dive a bit deeper and explore the facts as to why women are not waiting until marriage to realize their dream of becoming mothers.

Over the last two decades, there has been a 24% increase in never-married women who are mothers by the age of 40.2 There are several theories 3 hypothesizing why this increase is occurring, but three things are certain:

  • Women are furthering their education 4
  • The rate at which women are participating in the labor force has increased by 6% 5
  • Couples are delaying the decision of marriage 6

According to Emily H., a Single Mother by Choice, “Your relationship status should not affect if you are a parent. If your heart wants it, then you owe it to yourself to be a good parent.”

#3 Misconception: Infertility Treatment Is Too Expensive

While the cost of infertility treatments varies by location and procedure, insurance coverage for patients seeking infertility treatment has increased in recent years.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Since the 1980s, 15 states—Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia—have passed laws that require insurers to either cover or offer coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment.”7

If your insurance carrier does not cover costs associated with fertility or infertility treatments, consider speaking with one of the Financial Advisors at Jemma Financial. The financial advisors at Jemma are women who specialize in helping professional women build and manage wealth to achieve both short- and long-term financial goals.

#4 Misconception: Children of SMC Will Not Do as Well as Other Children

The information below references a study by the National Institute of Health examining emotional and behavioral outcomes of children in homes of women who elected to be single mothers and in two-parent, heterosexual households.8

With respect to the children, those with single mothers showed fewer emotional and behavioral problems than did those with married mothers. According to the study, children of single mothers by choice or “solo mothers” are not exposed to parental conflict, and are less likely to experience the economic hardship or psychological difficulties that can commonly result should a marital breakdown occur.

This study also found “that children in both households show no developmental or parent-child relationship differences, but mothers in single-parent households had a ‘greater social support network.”

Resources for Women Like You

You do not have to put your dream of being a mother on hold because you have not yet met Mr. or Ms. Right. As a woman, you have options and here are a few:

  • Resolve – National Infertility Association – is a great resource for finding support groups, answering questions regarding insurance coverage, and finding experts and service providers.
  • If you are seeking Tips for Using Health Insurance to Cover Fertility Treatment, be sure to visit CreatingAFamily.org.
  • The Cade Foundation has Family Building Grants which assist infertile U.S. families with up to $10,000. These annually-awarded grants are given to families to help cover the costs associated with infertility treatment or domestic adoption.
  • If you have a Facebook account, you can search for local Single Mother by Choice group(s) in your area. This is a good option for moms looking to socialize with other like-minded women in their community.
  • Making financially-savvy decisions to cover medical expenses is easier with an experienced Financial Advisor by your side. The female advisors at Jemma specialize in the unique needs of women. They will guide you through the decision-making process to be sure you understand what options are available to you and how those decisions may impact your future. Start the conversation today with a complimentary consultation.

Being a Single Mother by Choice may not be the picture you originally envisioned for yourself but don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your dreams of being a mother. Choosing to establish yourself professionally while simultaneously achieving milestones along the way, not settling for less than you deserve in a relationship, and taking action-steps before beginning to start a family are all courageous decisions.

“Whether you want to call it fate, karma, or faith, when my child was finally in my arms, I understood with all my being that my life was unfolding exactly as it was meant to. All the bumps along the way were leading up to this perfect moment. And I am exactly where I am meant to be.” 9

- Mariana Caplan (Author & Single Mother by Choice)

Sources:
1: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/infertility
2: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/18/theyre-waiting-longer-but-u-s-women-today-more-likely-to-have-children-than-a-decade-ago/
3: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/05/17/cdc_data_says_women_in_their_thirties_are_having_more_babies_than_women.html
4: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=27
5: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/chapter-1-trends-from-government-data/
6: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-14/more-americans-delaying-marriage-past-their-20s-new-data-show
7: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/insurance-coverage-for-infertility-laws.aspx
8: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4886836/
9: https://www.health.com/pregnancy/single-mom-by-choice