It is time the society and the church recognised the noble job that single mothers — whether out of choice or not — play in raising children and supporting them. It is high time the society and the church understood where single mothers are coming from. In many churches today, single mothers are shunned, vilified and ‘put’ somewhere in a corner. The stigma is so high that even seeking to have their children baptised becomes more of a struggle in some churches.

Many churches today still view children born of single mothers as illegitimate. Such women are usually reprimanded by the clergy when they seek to have their children baptised. In some churches, single mothers are often referred to when the issue of morality arises during summons. Such uninformed judgements tend to scare away young single mothers from participating in the church. More damage is done when young single mothers are put together in ministries with mature women, old enough to be their mothers and grandmothers; yet they have differing needs and perspectives on life.

People sin in different ways. Yet, the society places a measure of morality on young women as not having a child out of wedlock. This pressure pushes most of them to over-the-counter contraceptives, and back-street abortions so that they can remain morally correct in the eyes of the church and the society.

Recently, social scientists, including psychologists, have jumped into the debate on single motherhood. They are raising fingers against what they term as a ‘dysfunctional family’ as without a father, so they say, children are having negative emotional and mental effects that make them not turn out well in life. We know that a majority of single mothers are struggling to parent by themselves, to put ugali on the table; but again, some of their homes are running far much better than the ordinary man and wife-led households.

It is time the society shed such labels as “children born in dysfunctional families”. It is such labels that harm children. There are other modern ways of parenting and co-parenting that the society should embrace. A man and woman may not necessarily live together, but they can actively parent together. It is all about the child.

It is time we changed the yardstick. It is time we embraced and supported the warriors that are single mothers. It is time the church and the society went slow on this discrimination towards single mothers as it is pushing most teenage girls and young women into more sin. Not unless we get there, our girls will not be safe from risky abortions, and they will continue to fear pregnancy more than HIV.

Whoever sets the moral yardstick, let us rethink it on single motherhood. Over to you moralists…

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