Unbroken Homes : Single-Parent Mothers Tell Their Stories book cover
1st Edition

Unbroken Homes
Single-Parent Mothers Tell Their Stories

ISBN 9780789011404
Published April 20, 2001 by Routledge
426 Pages

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Book Description

Explore the real-life triumphs and tragedies of single-parent mothers!

Unbroken Homes is a “story quilt” of personal narratives constructed from in-depth, case study interviews of five single-parent mothers. The book chronicles their journeys as mothers, daughters, and women, in relationships and in solitude, displaying their stories in their own words like the squares of a multicolored quilt. Unbroken Homes breaks through the stigma associated with “broken homes” and provides a new perspective on the reorganization of American families.

Unbroken Homes encourages you to rethink some damaging stereotypical assumptions about children from single-mother headed homes. Drawing information from family research, counseling, and a cross-section of social sciences, this book is pertinent to any professional who works with single parents or their children. Unbroken Homes does not deal with what is “typical” in the single-parenting experience, nor does it give advice or proselytize. Rather, its purpose is to discover the meaning that single-parent mothers bring to their own lives, helping you to understand the dynamics of single-parent families from a uniquely personal perspective.

In Unbroken Homes you will witness the ways that these women:

  • experience the ill effects of gender role socialization
  • work to overcome stigma
  • redefine ideals for family life and gender expectations
  • balance responsibilities in and outside of their homes
  • stretch finances to meet the needs of their families
  • regain strength and self-confidence
  • encourage their children's development
  • affirm the strength of their families
  • cope with depression
  • develop networks of support
This intensely personal collection of women's stories and reflections is a must read for everyone who seeks a better understanding of divorce, single-parenting, and being alone, from an insider's perspective.

Table of Contents


  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Why Do We Need This Book?
  • The Rest of the Story
  • Labeling and Deviance
  • Defining Family
  • The Importance of Theories and Interpretive Frameworks
  • A Different Side of the Story
  • Investigating the Lived Experiences of Single-Parent Mothers
  • Methodology
  • Presentation of the Book
  • What Can Be Learned from Only Five Women?
  • Chapter 1. What is Family? Mothering, Fathering and Being Single
  • Defining Family
  • Male Instrumentalists and Female Expressives: Gender Roles Defined
  • Parenting: Sainted Mothers and Disappearing Fathers
  • Divorce: A Battleground for Gender Wars
  • Single Women: Apart and Together
  • Conclusion
  • Squares of the Quilt: Single Mothers Through Their Own Eyes
  • The Story Quilt
  • The Interviews
  • The Women
  • Chapter 2. Judith: “Getting My Life Back”
  • Parents and Parenting
  • Sensitivity to Stereotyping
  • Facing Aloneness and Finding Strength
  • The Question of Quality Time
  • Beyond the Divorce: Parenting Changes
  • Divorce As Liberation
  • Emotional Codependency with Her Son
  • Completing the Journey
  • Chapter 3. Kathleen: “I Want to Do Everything Right”
  • The Divorce Experience
  • Providing Every Opportunity
  • Reflections on Divorce
  • Multiple Roles and Role Conflicts
  • Teaching Values
  • Learning About New Relationships: Her Significant Other
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4. Shawna: “Stand Your Ground”
  • Power and Control: A Question of Property
  • From the Other Side: The Child of a “Bad” Marriage
  • Having a Baby, Not a Wedding
  • Parenting Tasha
  • The Good Aunt: Parenting a Teenage Mother's Troubled Daughter
  • Breaking Out and Breaking Down
  • Chapter 5. Lyn: “Just Get On with It”
  • Three Generations of Single Moms
  • Lyn's Divorce: Getting On with It
  • Child Rearing: Encouraging Independence
  • Myself Alone
  • Coping with Depression
  • Old and New Myths
  • Retirement: No Place for Women
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 6. Sarah: “Reparenting the Child in Me”
  • The Characters
  • The Settings
  • Living in a Dysfunctional Marriage
  • A History of Abuse
  • Sarah Reparenting Herself
  • Sarah's Daughters: Adolescent Storms
  • Family: When It Works
  • School and the Single Parent
  • The Final Act: Picking Up the Pieces
  • Conclusion: A Disaster and an Irish Blessing
  • Chapter 7. Viewing the Quilt: Patterns and Themes
  • Introduction
  • Families and Parenting
  • Gender Wars Revisited
  • Women's Development: Journeys Through Self and Relationship
  • The Children of Divorce: Before and After
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • References
  • Index

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J Dianne Garner