Comparing the well-being of children growing up in 'single-mother-by-choice' and two-parent families, researchers found no differences in the child's development.
Raising a child as a single parent may be stressful, but a study has found that a financially stable single mother and her kids have a greater social support network with brothers, sisters, parents, friends of neighbours than nuclear families.
Comparing the well-being of children growing up in single-mother-by-choice and heterosexual two-parent families, the researchers found no differences in terms of parent-child relationship or child development.
Investigator Mathilde Brewaeys from VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam said that the children in both family types are doing well in terms of their 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," Brewaeys explained. "Single-mothers-by-choice and their children benefit from a good social support network and this should be emphasised in the counselling of women who want to have and raise a child without a partner."
The researchers also noted that 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.
They analysed 69 single-mothers-by-choice and 59 mothers from heterosexual two-parent families with a child between the ages of 1.5 and six years. The parent-child relationships, mothers' social support network and children's well-being were compared.
Most women in the study were financially stable, had received a higher education and had meaningful partner relationships in the past.
Single-mothers-by-choice showed significantly higher scores on the social support they received, but also on wanting more social support.
Brewaeys noted, "A strong social network is of crucial importance. So, I would recommend that all women considering single motherhood by choice make sure of a strong social network -- brothers, sisters, parents, friends or neighbours. And to never be afraid to ask for help."
The research was presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Geneva.