Fertility treatments are increasingly popular for single women who want to have kids without a partner. And while some specialists have raised concerns over the future well-being and development of these kids, a new study out of Amsterdam has found that children growing up in single-mother-by-choice homes are just as happy as those raised in heterosexual two-parent families.
Researchers compared 69 single-mothers-by-choice who had knowingly chosen to raise their child alone with 59 mothers from heterosexual two-parent families—all of whom had kids between the ages of 18 months and 6 years. Parent-child relationships, mothers' social support network, and children's well-being were all examined.
Here's what they found: There were no significant differences in emotional involvement or parental stress between family types, nor were there any significant differences in the children's well-being.
"The assumption that growing up in a family without a father is not good for the child is based mainly on research into children whose parents are divorced and who thus have experienced parental conflict," explained investigator Mathilde Brewaeys from the Centre of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria of the VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam. "However, it seems likely that any negative influence on child development depends more on a troubled parent-child relationship and not on the absence of a father. Single-mothers-by-choice knowingly make the decision to raise their child alone, in contrast to unintended single mothers."
It's an intriguing distinction—one that Brewaeys attributes in part to the fact that many single-mothers-by-choice and their children benefit from a good social support network. And interestingly enough, while the single-mothers-by-choice showed significantly higher scores on the social support they received, they also said they still wanted more.
"A strong social network is of crucial importance," explained Brewaeys. "I would recommend that all women considering single motherhood...make sure of a strong social network—brothers, sisters, parents, friends, or neighbors. And to never be afraid to ask for help."
That sounds like great advice for all moms!