Single Mothers Get Little Sympathy In New Pew Poll

Looks like single mothers are on their own.

In a new Pew Research Center poll of American attitudes toward changes in the structure of the American family, researchers found that Americans were least forgiving of the rise in mothers raising children without a male partner to help them.

Pew polled 2,691 Americans adults to determine if they feel that certain trends are "a good thing for our society, a bad thing for our society or doesn't it make much difference." The list of trends included more unmarried couples raising children; more gay and lesbian couples raising children; more single women having children without a male partner to help raise them; more people living together without getting married; more mothers of young children working outside the home; more people of different races marrying each other; and more women not ever having children.

Respondents tended to fall into one of three categories: those who believe all the trends are good for society; those who believe the majority of the trends are bad for society; and the third group, labeled the "Skeptics," who were generally tolerant -- except on the question of single mothers.

Mothers raising children without a male partner was the trend that most sharply divided the two most tolerant groups. As a group, the Skeptics feel unmarried or gay couples raising children do not make much of a difference on society, yet they overwhelmingly believe single mothers are harmful to society.

The author of the study acknowledges that the analysis is limited in that "not everyone ... evaluates each of the trends in exactly the same way."