Phaedra (phaedrasdream) wrote in austinitemoms,

I am a single mother to two young boys, ages 5 and 2. I am also a full-time employee (IT Project Manager) and a grad student (MLA program at St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX). I am performing an ethnographic study of single mothers in order to understand how single mothers experience single motherhood. I am speaking with members of the Single Parent Resource Network and Austin Single Parent Organization here in Austin, as well as individual single mothers both in and outside of Austin who are a part of online communities.

I am interviewing single moms on topics of general interest to single moms. This survey will be used to gather data about the varying and common experiences of single mothers in contemporary American society in order to describe and better understand the culture of single motherhood. Once the study is complete, I will post it online and all who participated will be able to provide feedback on the general tone and nature of the study and its presentation.

Please cut and paste the survey into an email and send your responses to, or leave a comment with your email addy and I will send it to you.

- Survey -
This survey has two parts. The first section is the most important, so if you have time for nothing else, please complete the first section to the best of your abilities. It includes questions regarding your general background and routine (in other words, your life as a single parent). The more information I am able to gather, the better, so I would appreciate your completing the second section which will ask you to go into more detail about your thoughts and opinions on issues that are relevant to single mothers.

* THE ANONYMITY OF YOUR FAMILY IS IMPORTANT TO ME. I WILL NOT REVEAL YOUR NAME OR CONTACT INFORMATION AS A PART OF THIS STUDY, NOR WILL I SHARE YOUR NAME OR CONTACT INFORMATION WITHOUT FIRST RECEIVING YOUR WRITTEN PERMISSION. ALL CONTACT INFORMATION GATHERED AS PART OF THIS SURVEY IS CONFIDENTIAL. FAKE NAMES WILL BE USED IN THE WRITTEN STUDY. The presentation of the study will be multi-media. If you would like to submit a photograph to be included in the study, please attach it to your email (.jpeg, .gif, .bmp, .tiff) and include a statement saying that you are willing to have the photograph published.

Please go into as much detail as possible.

- Section 1 -

1. Are you willing to receive a phone call as a follow-up to this interview, or would you prefer to do this interview over the phone? If so, please list your telephone number including area code.

2. What is your first name?

3. Please list the names and ages of your children.

4. What kind of housing (if any) do you live in (apartment, house, hotel, etc)?

5. Do you live with anyone else (relatives, roommates, significant other, etc)?

6. Do your children live with you? How often?

7. Do you share custody of your children with another individual or family? How often?

8. How did you become a single mother (divorced, widowed, single-mother-by-choice, in vitro, adoption, etc)? Please describe in as much depth as possible.

9. Are you involved in a romantic relationship? And if so, do you feel that this somehow modifies your status as a “single” parent?

10. How do you feel about the term “single parent?”

11. Are you employed? If so, describe your job, duties, wages, and schedule in as much detail as you feel comfortable.

12. Are you a student? If so, describe your studies, schedule, and goals in as much detail as you feel comfortable.

13. What is a typical day like for you? How does this compare to what you want a typical day to be like?

14. What would you say are your greatest challenges as a single mother?

15. Are there benefits that are unique to being a single mother?

16. How do you think other people view you now that you are a single mother? Do you feel that, overall, society views single mothers in a positive or negative light?

17. Are you a part of any single mothering or single parenting groups or communities? These might be online, in real life, or part of a larger group. These groups may be organized (such as Parents Without Partners) or informal (you may identify as part of a subculture such as single parents that home-school).

18. List some words, terms, concepts or themes that come to mind when you think about single mothering (ie, isolation, child support, “all single mothers are on welfare,” that kind of thing).

19. How and where do you access the internet?

- Section 2 -

1. “Isolation” is a common theme among single mothers and mothers in general. Women speak of feeling alone, misunderstood, undesirable, oppressed, and depressed. Do you relate to any of these feelings? Why do you or don’t you relate to them?

2. What are ways that you have found to combat the isolating aspect of single parenting? For example, you may have joined a local support group or purchased a book that talks about the common issues single parents face. How much credit would you give to the internet for helping you combat the isolating aspect of single parenting?

3. Single mothers have been the target of numerous sociological studies as well as newspaper and magazine articles that have tried to understand and explain the rise in teen violence and teen pregnancy over the last two decades. What is your understanding of these issues and how do they affect your parenting style, if at all? Do you believe that there is a correlation between single mothering and teen violence or teen pregnancy?

4. In the current Presidential race, single women have been targeted as a key demographic as both parties try to encourage voters to participate in the election process. Journalist Connie Schultz writes: “Census figures show that nearly half of the 47 million unmarried women eligible to vote failed to cast their ballots in the last presidential race. Millions of them are single mothers, and their lives are harder than those of married women in all kinds of ways, starting with income. More than half of them have annual household incomes below $30,000. They are the clerks, secretaries and waitresses of our daily lives, hourly wage earners who lose more than their voice every time they don't vote.” How do you feel about being a target of the campaign to get out the vote?

5. In 1992, then Vice President Dan Quayle made the following remark in response to the choice of television character Murphy Brown’s decision to have a child out of wedlock: “Right now the failure of our families is hurting America deeply. . . Children need love and discipline. A welfare check is not a husband. The state is not a father. It is from parents that children come to understand values and themselves as men and women, mothers and fathers. . . It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown - a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman - mocking the importance of a father, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another ‘lifestyle choice.’” Ten years later, Dan Quayle was asked to comment on his previous statement, and he added “Friends” and “Sex and the City” to his list of offenders, pointing out that at least the “The Osbournes” had two parents of each gender. Quayle’s comments were said to have started the conservative “marriage movement” in the United States. As a single parent, are you aware of a marriage movement and what does it mean to you?


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