The Myth Of The Married Mother

Back in the 1970s, “The Partridge Family,” “The Brady Bunch” and “The Jeffersons” reigned supreme. Ninety-four percent of all births were to married mothers. Today, 52% of all Millennial mothers giving birth are not married. The days where a family equals a husband, a wife, and two or more children are long gone.

How can you ensure your brands are connecting with the growing number of single mothers? 

1. Examine how much of what you know about single mothers is real, and how much is age-old stereotypes. 

We study the lives of mothers all day, every day. It is through this work that we’ve learned there is a lot of misinformation out there about single moms. Let’s start by setting the record straight:

Myth: Single mothers live off the government. 

Reality: Only 11% of single mothers in the U.S. actually receive government assistance even though 40% qualify.



Myth: The increase in single parenthood is a U.S.-only trend. 

Reality: Single parenthood is increasingly common worldwide. Since 1980, births outside of marriage have tripled from 11% to almost 33% across OECD countries, including more traditionally conservative countries like Japan and Korea. 

Myth: The majority of single mothers are teen moms. 

Reality: Fifty-four percent of single mothers are “previously partnered” meaning they were married and are now separated, divorced or widowed. 

2. Embrace the biggest pain points of single motherhood.

Single moms often have double the responsibility of married moms and double the difficulties making their family lives work. Their three biggest pain points are: 


What she feels: When every meal falls on her shoulders every day, she runs out of ideas and energy fast. Dinnertime comes at a time in the day when energy is depleted, yet there is still plenty left to do before bed to prepare for tomorrow.

What she needs: To feel good about what she’s feeding her family, while only taking 15 minutes to prepare it.

Managing the Support Network

What she feels: It’s a juggling act to manage all the people who help her take care of her children — family, babysitters, neighbors, friends, day care workers, etc. She often feels she’s close to making a mistake or that she’s missed something. 

What she needs: To be able to manage, track, and communicate with her support system from one central hub on her mobile phone. 

Workplace Flexibility

What she feels: Paid sick leave isn’t required in the U.S., so when her child gets sick, she has to make some tough choices. Should she pay someone to watch her sick child? Will her child understand if she can’t be at the doctor’s appointment? What will her boss say if she asks to leave early? 

What she needs: A backup plan that’s easy to execute when life throws a hiccup her way. 

3. Treat single mothers like your co-brand managers.

Most focus groups that utilize moms are pretty ineffective. Eight moms who don’t know each other are in a lab-rat-like facility, and asked to open up and share their deepest, darkest secrets about single motherhood. It’s doesn’t work.

Mothers, especially single mothers, are some of the best problem solvers on the planet. So when you need to develop new products, services or messaging with single moms, bring them into brainstorming sessions and have them co-create solutions alongside of those who will develop them. You will get more honest feedback and make sure you are addressing the right pain points. 

The 1970s idealized version of motherhood was just that, for single and even married moms. With single motherhood on the rise, marketers must figure out how to develop solutions for them. Now is the time to start.

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