The numbers compare with a net worth of $25,000 for single fathers of all races, and a net worth of $6,000 for white single moms. Young single moms are in the worst shape, with more than half of the moms under 40 having zero or negative net worth.
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Almost none of us can say we are surprised to read these results. It’s well-known that while families of color struggle, single parent families have the most hurdles to jump for their survival. The recession has not made things any easier, as job loss for a single parent household can be devastating.
There are a few things that black and brown communities can fight for which might make a difference in the dire condition of single parent homes.
First, we can push for stronger systemic measures to maintain the relationship between father and child. If the father is more directly involved in the life of his child, the entire family benefits financially, socially and emotionally. For those mothers who are not doing all they can to ensure that their child’s father has an equal stake in the child’s life, some adjustment may also be necessary. At the same time, those fathers who are not trying hard enough should be held accountable as well.
Second, there should be continued work toward child support enforcement. Far too many women have been financially abandoned by fathers who refuse to support their kids. Not only should the state take a greater role in enforcing child support payments, but our community should chastise fathers who are creating babies irresponsibly. There’s nothing good about being an irresponsible parent.
Third, there should be stronger legislation to ensure gender equity in the workplace. As of 2011, women will make up the majority of our workforce, and many of those women will be single mothers. A huge concern is the fact that the United States lags behind most other industrialized nations when it comes to protecting mothers from having their careers penalized by choosing to build a family. We’ve certainly got to change that, and the time for that change is now.
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Fourth, there’s almost nothing that some good old-fashioned education can’t fix. Financial literacy in the black community should be improved so that we can learn to take better care of the money in our possession.