SSS, I don't think Seasons was complaining or saying she felt her situation was especially hard.
My dad will usually help out financially if I ask, but I don't count on him for it. He's retired, and while he's been careful to save, has a good pension and Soc Sec etc., he's got probably 20 years to run without working. He might -- might -- be able to get rehired now, since he's very good at what he does, but he's an old guy, out of the main currents of his field, and frankly very difficult to work with.
My mother has sent dd three presents over 5.5 years.
I've never had offers of childcare help from either of them. They live far away, and frankly they're both getting old. Even if we lived nearby, it's only now that I'd have been willing to ask them to look after dd for any significant amount of time. She's school-aged now and is old enough to try to be a good guest, etc.
My situation's slightly unusual in that I waited to have a kid until I felt I could support her on my own if necessary -- in that sense I'm more like SMCs. I've got good community resources and don't need help getting launched.
May May, if this is for a study, I think you may find that a lot of single mothers are truly doing this on their own, with casual help now and then from either a family member or a small circle of friends. Most of us are also doing it without benefit of full child-support receipts -- delinquencies ride at around 80-85% of all cases, according to HHS.
What does it mean for policymakers, well, I think it means that they have to stop wishing and pretending about that support.
If a child's sick, there's probably no friend or family member who's going to come over and watch the child, or even pick her up from daycare; Mom will have to go, and risk her job.
If there's a school play scheduled outside of school hours without childcare, the child may not be able to participate -- Mom may have other children to look after, and she can't leave them with the non-existent grandmother so she can go to the older child's play.
If there's a PTA or school board meeting that's held without childcare, single mothers may not be able to attend without paying a heavy price afterwards in terms of exhaustion and crankier/more tired kids.
If there's a birthday party or other event that requires kids to have their parents nearby, the parent may need to bring other kids, or the requirement may mean that they skip the party.
If there's a community organization that doesn't want children at the meetings, or a work meeting scheduled outside normal childcare hours, the single parent may not be able to attend.
If an older child needs emergency care, the mother will show up in the ER with all her children, and the hospital will either need babysitters or have to allow the mother to keep all the children with her.
To all the policymakers who desperately want single mothers to have broad, reliable support from family and friends -- we wish it too. We really do. But it isn't there, and you have to pull your heads out of the sand and plan accordingly.