A mom’s life is a stressful one…even when there are two partners handling the child rearing. But it´s even tougher for a single parent. And although single parents have long understood those difficulties, actual health concerns have now been confirmed by scientific research.
Recent studies now suggest that being a single mom may bring on premature health conditions later on in life; this compared to women who were in a marriage with children.
The single most important finding in the study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health is that single mothers, in all countries had poorer health than women who were married. Of significant importance is the fact that single mothers who had raised children alone, had a more difficult time in doing normal activities like getting around, cooking and climbing stairs when they aged.
The study doesn’t specify what the cause of these issues is but the lead researcher, Dr. Berkman, suspects that it is the stress of raising kids by oneself that has such a profound effect on women´s health when they get older. Research conducted prior to this study hasn’t associated the activities with stress and aging because these health consequences take so long to develop. However, researchers believe it is the stress over long periods of time that take a toll on a single parent’s health.
Berkman and her team analyzed the data of more than 25,000 women in the U.S and in Europe and found that the longer a woman parented on her own the bigger the risk she had of developing health issues later in life. Berkman´s statistics show that there is an increase of nearly 30% of health issues among American women who lived in this situation, and these issues relate to their reduced ability to cope with daily living.
It Doesn’t Have to Be this Way
There is good news here though. This study also found that there was a reduced effect or a reversible effect on single mothers, if the single motherhood lasted less than 7 years. It does, however rise, when mothers are single parents for 14 or more years. “ We now know that single parents can have greater risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular disease and mental health issues,” she goes on to say.
Despite the risks, there are things that the more than 9 million single parents in the US can do to remain healthy, say the experts.
Take time out of a busy schedule to get a health checkup, no matter how busy and how many activities are on the schedule, or what your financial situation is. Put aside some time every day just for personal fulfillment.
Even so, the biggest risk reducer is finding another partner to help raise children, suggests Berkman. “Getting remarried helps,” she says. The most important factor is the duration spent being a single parent.