single parent


Summary: A natural, adoptive, or substitute parent of a dependent child, who lives with only one parent. The single parent may live with or visit the child. The concept includes the never-married, as well as the divorced and widowed.

Top Publications

  1. Ogunsiji O, Wilkes L. Managing family life while studying: single mothers' lived experience of being students in a nursing program. Contemp Nurse. 2004;18:108-23 pubmed
    Evidence suggests that single parent families are more likely to be affected by social problems associated with poor health and poverty. Single parent families are growing in number and are overwhelmingly headed by women...
  2. Olds D, Eckenrode J, Henderson C, Kitzman H, Powers J, Cole R, et al. Long-term effects of home visitation on maternal life course and child abuse and neglect. Fifteen-year follow-up of a randomized trial. JAMA. 1997;278:637-43 pubmed
  3. Lipman E, Boyle M. Social support and education groups for single mothers: a randomized controlled trial of a community-based program. CMAJ. 2005;173:1451-6 pubmed
    ..Longer follow-up showed attenuation of these effects. ..
  4. Taanila A, Laitinen E, Moilanen I, Jarvelin M. Effects of family interaction on the child's behavior in single-parent or reconstructed families. Fam Process. 2002;41:693-708 pubmed
    ..In conclusion, a good interaction between the parents and clarified family boundaries protect children's mental health after their parents' divorce or separation. ..
  5. Cairney J, Wade T. Single parent mothers and mental health care service use. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2002;37:236-42 pubmed
    ..have a higher rate of contact with professionals than married mothers and that the relationship between single parent status and frequency of contact is moderated by depression...
  6. Kim D, Jeon G, Jang S. Socioeconomic status, social support and self-rated health among lone mothers in South Korea. Int J Public Health. 2010;55:551-9 pubmed publisher
    ..The findings clearly indicate that lone mothers have poorer self-rated health than partnered mothers do, but this detrimental effect cannot be entirely explained by the socioeconomic and social support-mediating factors. ..
  7. Lipman E, Boyle M, Dooley M, Offord D. Child well-being in single-mother families. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002;41:75-82 pubmed
    ..Specific interventions for single-mother families may be warranted in the areas of parenting and other areas of concentrated risk. ..
  8. Baker D, Mead N, Campbell S. Inequalities in morbidity and consulting behaviour for socially vulnerable groups. Br J Gen Pract. 2002;52:124-30 pubmed
    ..The propensity for members of ethnic minority groups to consult more than white people, particularly for acute conditions, requires further exploration. ..
  9. Burstrom B, Whitehead M, Clayton S, Fritzell S, Vannoni F, Costa G. Health inequalities between lone and couple mothers and policy under different welfare regimes - the example of Italy, Sweden and Britain. Soc Sci Med. 2010;70:912-20 pubmed publisher
    ..The experiences of lone mothers as a group may serve as a 'litmus' test of how each family policy system is operating and offer an early warning of adverse impacts when policies change. ..

More Information


  1. Targosz S, Bebbington P, Lewis G, Brugha T, Jenkins R, Farrell M, et al. Lone mothers, social exclusion and depression. Psychol Med. 2003;33:715-22 pubmed
    ..Lone mothers are increasing in numbers as marital stability declines. Their high rates of material disadvantage and of depressive disorder may have considerable implications for psychiatric and social policy. ..
  2. Lipman E, Waymouth M, Gammon T, Carter P, Secord M, Leung O, et al. Influence of group cohesion on maternal well-being among participants in a support/education group program for single mothers. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2007;77:543-549 pubmed publisher
    ..Significant associations were found between group cohesion and specific positive outcomes. This suggests a positive association between group cohesion and mood, self-esteem, social support, and parenting, in this trial. ..
  3. Otten R, Engels R, van de Ven M, Bricker J. Parental smoking and adolescent smoking stages: the role of parents' current and former smoking, and family structure. J Behav Med. 2007;30:143-54 pubmed
    ..Children living in single-parent families are only exposed to the behaviour of one parent; in two-parent families the behaviour from one parent may magnify or buffer the behaviour of the other parent. ..
  4. Crosier T, Butterworth P, Rodgers B. Mental health problems among single and partnered mothers. The role of financial hardship and social support. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2007;42:6-13 pubmed
  5. Young L, Cunningham S, Buist D. Lone mothers are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease compared with partnered mothers. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III). Health Care Women Int. 2005;26:604-21 pubmed
    ..Lone mothers are at increased risk for CVD. Health professionals and lone mothers should collaborate in the development of programs and policies not only to reduce lone mothers' risk for CVD, but also improve their conditions of living. ..
  6. Grube M. [Fatherhood and mental illness]. Psychiatr Prax. 2011;38:16-22 pubmed publisher
    ..Specific options for treatment, support and therapy, which include the mothers of the patient's children and, where applicable, take their migrant background into consideration, need to be established. ..
  7. Morina N, Emmelkamp P. Mental health outcomes of widowed and married mothers after war. Br J Psychiatry. 2012;200:158-9 pubmed publisher
    ..9% and 22.9% in the married samples. War-related widowhood combined with lone motherhood constitutes a significant factor for elevated psychopathology. ..
  8. Hildebrandt E, Hildebrandt -, Ford S. Justice and impoverished women: the ethical implications of work-based welfare. Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2009;10:295-302 pubmed publisher
    ..Findings describe health and socioeconomic burdens, and barriers that lie within the social policy. The study has ethical implications for nursing advocacy, and it informs nursing interventions for impoverished women and their families. ..
  9. Menke E, Wagner J. The experience of homeless female-headed families. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1997;18:315-30 pubmed
    ..Being homeless was compared to a nightmare in which one does not know what will happen or where one will be from day to day. Implications for nursing practice and research are discussed. ..
  10. Kong K, Choi H, Kim S. Mental health among single and partnered parents in South Korea. PLoS ONE. 2017;12:e0182943 pubmed publisher
    ..This study compares the mental health of single parents relative to partnered parents and assesses the contribution of the social and demographic factors to this difference, examining the gender difference in it...
  11. Peden A, Rayens M, Hall L, Grant E. Negative thinking and the mental health of low-income single mothers. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2004;36:337-44 pubmed
    ..As a symptom, negative thinking might be more amenable to nursing intervention than to interventions focused on reducing chronic stress. ..
  12. Young L, James A, Cunningham S. Lone motherhood and risk for cardiovascular disease: the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), 1998-99. Can J Public Health. 2004;95:329-35 pubmed
    ..Programs and policies that support lone mothers in their goals of attaining healthier lifestyles have the potential to contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in Canadian women. ..
  13. Baker D, North K. Does employment improve the health of lone mothers? The ALSPAC Study Team. Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood. Soc Sci Med. 1999;49:121-31 pubmed
    ..51, 95% CI = 1.00,2.31). Overall, the results suggested that the movement from 'welfare to work' is unlikely to improve the health of lone mothers. ..
  14. Deater Deckard K, Dodge K, Bates J, Pettit G. Multiple risk factors in the development of externalizing behavior problems: group and individual differences. Dev Psychopathol. 1998;10:469-93 pubmed
    ..However, this moderation effect varied depending on the predictor and outcome variables included in the model. ..
  15. Beeson D, Jennings P, Kramer W. Offspring searching for their sperm donors: how family type shapes the process. Hum Reprod. 2011;26:2415-24 pubmed publisher
    ..A variety of strategies are needed for offspring of heterosexual couples to benefit optimally from the general trend toward openness in gamete donation. ..
  16. Supplee L, Skuban E, Trentacosta C, Shaw D, Stoltz E. Preschool boys' development of emotional self-regulation strategies in a sample at risk for behavior problems. J Genet Psychol. 2011;172:95-120 pubmed publisher
    ..The results provide a foundation for future researchers to examine the development of SRS in low-income young children. ..
  17. Forgatch M, DeGarmo D. Parenting through change: an effective prevention program for single mothers. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1999;67:711-24 pubmed
    ..The intervention indirectly benefitted child outcomes through improved parenting practices for a model based on child report and, to a lesser extent, on teacher report. The intervention did not produce direct effects on child outcomes. ..
  18. Weitoft G, Haglund B, Hjern A, Rosén M. Mortality, severe morbidity and injury among long-term lone mothers in Sweden. Int J Epidemiol. 2002;31:573-80 pubmed
    ..Lack of household resources seems to play a major role in accounting for increased risks, but the risks are partly independent of socioeconomic circumstances, selection factors, and distress following divorce. ..
  19. Jadva V, Badger S, Morrissette M, Golombok S. 'Mom by choice, single by life's circumstance...' Findings from a large scale survey of the experiences of single mothers by choice. Hum Fertil (Camb). 2009;12:175-84 pubmed publisher
    ..Single mothers by choice are a distinct group of single mothers and more detailed studies are required to focus on issues that are of most relevance to them. ..
  20. Freeman T, Jadva V, Kramer W, Golombok S. Gamete donation: parents' experiences of searching for their child's donor siblings and donor. Hum Reprod. 2009;24:505-16 pubmed publisher
    ..These findings have wider implications because the removal of donor anonymity in the UK and elsewhere means that increasing numbers of donor offspring are likely to seek contact with their donor relations in the future. ..
  21. Oberlander S, Shebl F, Magder L, Black M. Adolescent mothers leaving multigenerational households. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2009;38:62-74 pubmed publisher
    ..Helping adolescent mothers and grandmothers negotiate roles to reduce conflict may promote autonomy and relatedness, allowing mothers to learn parenting skills, qualify for public assistance, and continue their education. ..
  22. Powell P, Holmes C. Letter to the editor: single parents of children with chronic illness: an understudied phenomenon. J Pediatr Psychol. 2008;33:797-8 pubmed publisher
  23. Heydari G, Sharifi H, Hosseini M, Masjedi M. Prevalence of smoking among high-school students of Tehran in 2003. East Mediterr Health J. 2007;13:1017-21 pubmed
    ..Of 316 occasional smokers, 12% lived with a single parent compared with only 5% of never smokers...
  24. Lundberg S, Rose E. Child gender and the transition to marriage. Demography. 2003;40:333-49 pubmed
    ..These results are consistent with a marital-search model in which sons, more than daughters, increase the value of marriage relative to single parenthood. ..
  25. Docherty S, Lowry C, Miles M. Poverty as context for the parenting experience of low-income Lumbee Indian mothers with a medically fragile infant. Neonatal Netw. 2007;26:361-9 pubmed
  26. Koenig K. Pilot study of low-income parents' perspectives of managing asthma in high-risk infants and toddlers. Pediatr Nurs. 2007;33:223-8, 242 pubmed
    ..Not knowing then knowing the diagnosis, and provider availability and lack of availability were two dichotomous challenges mothers faced when managing asthma in their very young children. ..
  27. Guttmann A, Dick P, To T. Infant hospitalization and maternal depression, poverty and single parenthood - a population-based study. Child Care Health Dev. 2004;30:67-75 pubmed
    ..Maternal depression is a treatable disorder which if recognized might prevent some infant morbidity. ..
  28. Giordano S. Crimes and misdemeanours: the case of child abandonment. J Med Ethics. 2007;33:28-34 pubmed
    ..This paper is an invitation to reflect on the inconsistency in the ways in which we prosecute, punish or try to correct some forms of child abandonment and yet make allowances for others. ..
  29. Murray C, Golombok S. Going it alone: solo mothers and their infants conceived by donor insemination. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2005;75:242-53 pubmed
    ..Solo DI mothers appeared to be more open toward disclosing the donor conception to the child than were married DI mothers. ..
  30. Williford A, Calkins S, Keane S. Predicting change in parenting stress across early childhood: child and maternal factors. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2007;35:251-63 pubmed
    ..Results are discussed in the context of mechanisms by which parenting stress may influence the development of child externalizing behaviors. ..
  31. Gayer D, Ganong L. Family structure and mothers' caregiving of children with cystic fibrosis. J Fam Nurs. 2006;12:390-412 pubmed
    ..Married fathers helped with treatments more than nonresidential divorced fathers and stepfathers. Implications for nursing practice and suggestions for future research are offered. ..
  32. Kaplan G, Siefert K, Ranjit N, Raghunathan T, Young E, Tran D, et al. The health of poor women under welfare reform. Am J Public Health. 2005;95:1252-8 pubmed
    ..62; 95% CI=0.37, 0.86) than in the national sample. Current and former welfare recipients bear a substantial burden of illness. Further studies are necessary to interpret our findings of worsened health in the wake of welfare reform. ..
  33. Dumbrill G. Parental experience of child protection intervention: a qualitative study. Child Abuse Negl. 2006;30:27-37 pubmed
    ..Doubts are raised about the viability of policies separating policing and helping in child protection through differential response systems. ..
  34. Fleming D, Charlton J. Morbidity and healthcare utilisation of children in households with one adult: comparative observational study. BMJ. 1998;316:1572-6 pubmed
    ..The study confirms the importance of single parent families as an indicator of deprivation...
  35. Yang S. A life history of a Korean adolescent girl who attempted suicide. Death Stud. 2012;36:253-69 pubmed
  36. Mainthia R, Reppart L, Reppart J, Pearce E, Cohen J, Netterville J. A model for improving the health and quality of life of single mothers in the developing world. Afr J Reprod Health. 2013;17:14-25 pubmed
    ..This study demonstrates a program model that can be used to improve the health and quality of life of single mothers and their children in similar communities throughout the world. ..
  37. Lit S. Getting to hear the voices of the unwed mothers: their decisions to keep their babies for lone motherhood. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2011;23:147-52 pubmed
  38. Ranjit N, Young E, Raghunathan T, Kaplan G. Modeling cortisol rhythms in a population-based study. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2005;30:615-24 pubmed
    ..Sharp inflection points for the diurnal profile of cortisol were noted at 30 and 75 min past awakening. Obese women showed a slight tendency to have a less sharply rising and declining response to awakening than non-obese women. ..
  39. Cairney J, Boyle M, Lipman E, Racine Y. Single mothers and the use of professionals for mental health care reasons. Soc Sci Med. 2004;59:2535-46 pubmed
    ..Further work should examine differences in pathways into formal care between single and married mothers. ..
  40. Molina M, Ferrada C, Perez R, Cid L, Casanueva V, García A. [The relationship between teenage pregnancy and school desertion]. Rev Med Chil. 2004;132:65-70 pubmed
    ..The parental educational level of both groups was low. There is a relationship between teenage pregnancy and school desertion. Adolescents who deserted from school before pregnancy are more vulnerable. ..
  41. Abdul Kadir N, Bifulco A. Vulnerability, life events and depression amongst Moslem Malaysian women: comparing those married and those divorced or separated. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2011;46:853-62 pubmed publisher
    ..The results are discussed in relation to the low recognition of psychosocial risks for depression in single mothers in Malaysia, as well as lack of appropriate services. ..
  42. Leander K. [Visible public health problem we have difficulties seeing]. Lakartidningen. 2008;105:454-6 pubmed
  43. Janzen B, Green K, Muhajarine N. The health of single fathers: demographic, economic and social correlates. Can J Public Health. 2006;97:440-4 pubmed
    ..These findings, in combination with previous research, suggest a need for provincial and federal policies to target the well-being of both single mothers and single fathers. ..
  44. Chacko A, Wymbs B, Flammer Rivera L, Pelham W, Walker K, Arnold F, et al. A pilot study of the feasibility and efficacy of the Strategies to Enhance Positive Parenting (STEPP) program for single mothers of children with ADHD. J Atten Disord. 2008;12:270-80 pubmed
    ..The results of the pilot study are encouraging but indicate a need to improve the potency and delivery of certain aspects of the STEPP program. ..
  45. Fritzell S, Ringbäck Weitoft G, Fritzell J, Burstrom B. From macro to micro: the health of Swedish lone mothers during changing economic and social circumstances. Soc Sci Med. 2007;65:2474-88 pubmed
  46. Reichman N, Hamilton E, Hummer R, Padilla Y. Racial and ethnic disparities in low birthweight among urban unmarried mothers. Matern Child Health J. 2008;12:204-15 pubmed
  47. Kalmijn M, Monden C. Poverty and union formation among never-married single mothers in the Netherlands, 1989-2005. Popul Stud (Camb). 2010;64:263-74 pubmed publisher
    ..Not only are never-married single mothers more likely to be poor at the time of first birth, the poor are also more likely to remain single. There seems to be an accumulation of disadvantage in this special group in Dutch society. ..
  48. Clemmens D. Adolescent mothers' depression after the birth of their babies: weathering the storm. Adolescence. 2002;37:551-65 pubmed
    ..Implications for practice and directions for future research are presented. ..
  49. Skeie M, Klock K, Haugejorden O, Riordan P, Espelid I. Tracking of parents' attitudes to their children's oral health-related behavior-Oslo, Norway, 2002-04. Acta Odontol Scand. 2010;68:49-56 pubmed publisher
    ..Culturally tailored programs of dental health education are needed to promote more positive attitudes to oral health. ..
  50. Dubois L, Girard M, Potvin Kent M. Breakfast eating and overweight in a pre-school population: is there a link?. Public Health Nutr. 2006;9:436-42 pubmed
  51. Butterworth P. Lone mothers' experience of physical and sexual violence: association with psychiatric disorders. Br J Psychiatry. 2004;184:21-7 pubmed
    ..Experience of physical and sexual violence accounted for much of the greater prevalence of psychiatric disorders among lone compared with partnered mothers. ..
  52. Taylor Z, Widaman K, Robins R, Jochem R, Early D, Conger R. Dispositional optimism: a psychological resource for Mexican-origin mothers experiencing economic stress. J Fam Psychol. 2012;26:133-9 pubmed publisher
  53. Gieler U, Schoof S, Gieler T, Scheewe S, Schut C, Kupfer J. Atopic Eczema and Stress among Single Parents and Families: An Empirical Study of 96 Mothers. Acta Derm Venereol. 2017;97:42-46 pubmed publisher
    ..Special care should be provided for single mothers with higher stress, in order to teach them how to deal with the scratching behaviour of their children. ..