Consistently for the past 5 years, there are at least 2.4 million kids living in single-parent households here in Texas. Meaning 35% of children in the state, only have one parental figure, but there is a drastic difference when it comes to homes with single mothers vs single fathers.
According to the U.S Census Bureau, there are about 4 million kids who grow up with a single father but 18.3 million children across the country grow up with a single mother. That’s about 1 in 4 kids who do not have a biological, step or adoptive father figure.
The absence of either parental figure can put that child at an increased risk to grow up in poverty and be more likely to have behavioral problems.
Dr. Jeffery Yarvis Department of Social Work at Texas A&M Central Texas says the perfect family doesn't exist. He explains consistency is key no matter the situation because it leaves kids feeling loved, valued, appreciated, and supported.
“I think a support system for both the parent and the child is really important in that situation. And really consistency is sort of the cardinal inertia behind success. Don't expect to have what's called a perfect family. There's no such thing as perfect families, the only place you find them is in a storybook,” said Dr. Yarvis.
The ongoing struggles of being a single mother is something Jovani Mora knows well. Mora wears many hats, she’s a disabled veteran, a friend to many but most importantly a mother. Mora said her journey as a single mother has been far from easy, although her son does have a relationship with his father who’s in a different state, she’s the one that’s there every single day.
“I was always trying to step in and do the things that I need to do to take care of him. And to let him feel like you know he wasn't like, a part of the statistic,” Mora said.
Although she had help from her parents when her mother passed, things changed.
Mora said it took a while to overcome the feeling of guilt that once weighed on her shoulders. She was navigating through her own trauma and medical issues all while providing for her son Jayden.
“I had two parents in my household but he didn't, he never had that. So, I felt like, like, I took that away from him. Even though it wasn't my fault that I wasn't with his father, I just felt like he was cheated. And because he did have what I had growing up, it's hard for me, but now is like, seeing that everything in and things are coming together,” she said.
Despite the odds, Mora will soon watch her son walk across the stage and get his diploma, it's a day that will make all the struggles and tears worth it.
Mora said, “He's on a roll now, he just a got certificate the other day, his cap and gown, and everything came through. It’s like he can see the light, you know, he's happier. He's, you know, he's more confident.”
Dr. Yarvis says it's also important for single parents not to eternalize their feelings of guilt for not providing a two-parent household for their child. He says in many cases a two-parent household with an unhealthy relationship can be more damaging to a child than a single-parent home.
“There are some unique features in single families, parent families, where the kids are actually more resilient. Remaining in a very unhealthy marriage situation might actually be worse than a single parent who is very invested in their child's education, their growth and well-being,” Yarvis said.
He said with anything support and consistency is key no matter the situation because it leaves kids feeling loved, valued, appreciated, and supported.
“As a single parent, don't give up, don't think that you're a failure, and no matter what anyone tries to judge, you don't just don't think about that. Think about your child, and what they need to succeed in life,” said Mora. “I've always told him, like, it's you and me against the world. Like, no matter what, I'm going to do my best to be there,” she said.