Korean Single Moms Say Stereotypes Hurt the Most

Members of SPA, the association of single moms, are getting their troubles off their chest.(Photo by SPA via Korea Daily)

Members of SPA, the association of single moms, are getting their troubles off their chest. (Photo by SPA via Korea Daily)

According to family and women’s organizations in New York, the number of single moms who raise children alone after getting a divorce due to domestic violence and financial problems has been dramatically increasing. Statistics on newborn babies, presented by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, indicate that 9.9 percent of Korean mothers who gave birth in 2011 were single moms. It means that one in 10 Korean babies doesn’t have a father present.

Single moms, who already suffered enough from their divorce or the death of their husband, have to struggle with being labeled as a “single mom,” “divorcee,” or “widow.”

One 54-year-old woman referred to as “A,” who got divorced in 1998 after four years of marriage – in which she suffered financial abuse – and reared two daughters by herself, said, “It was hard for me to live as a single mom. But the biggest challenge over the past 15 years was enduring other people’s critical perceptions of me.” She added, “Even people in a church I went to for healing judged me using stereotypes, which made me question what a church could do for people.”

This stigma can also have an impact on their children.

Sometimes  “A” explained that children brought up by a single mom tend to lack confidence and have a hard time making friends. She also said that the prejudices from classmates can make it harder to maintain a normal friendship.

The other thing that distresses a single mom, besides the preconceptions, is poverty. Most single moms escape an agonizing family life without any preparation, and they end up struggling as they endure abrupt economic changes. This can also affect how they raise their children.

A, who formed SPA (“Single Parent Association”) five years ago for people in New York and New Jersey, advised that it is important for single moms to take an active part in many social and community activities in order to break the vicious cycle. According to A, about 30 single moms are part of this association and they share their pain with the group every two months.

She emphasized, “When they sympathize with the stories and feelings expressed by others, members find themselves being healed as they can understand each other’s situation. It is critical not to hide that you are a single mom, and to just expose the pain you feel inside so that everyone can work through it together.”

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