I can understand a young woman having one unplanned baby. I suspect that many teen moms just didn't take birth control seriously or thought it couldn't happen to them, but I doubt that's true for all single moms, and it doesn't explain the young single mothers with two or more children. As smartblkwoman said in a comment on my last post, "I cannot fathom anyone having more than one accidental pregnancy."
I read an article a couple of years ago that reviewed a book about single mothers. (The name of the book escapes me.) The authors of that book thought that the reason for many single woman pregnancies was so the mothers could reconcile with their family. The authors stated that no matter how bad the relationship was, no matter what the young woman had done to tick off her family, when she had a baby all (or almost all) was forgiven; the birth was celebrated and the young mother welcomed back into the family's good graces. Her social standing in the family took on a different status.
Others have said that young single women have babies because they want someone to have as their own and love them. More cynical people claim mothers have kids for the support checks they get from the state for them. And I suppose that there are some women who just don't think about it. They have sex, get pregnant and have babies. It's just the way life goes.
There is probably some truth in all of the above, but I doubt that we can give one reason that fits all single moms. They are a varied bunch, like any other group of people. But I have to believe that a society that no longer sees anything wrong with single parenthood, that indeed even expects single parenthood, without any thought of social stigma, is a big factor in the phenomenon. I don't want to vilify single mothers, or not support them or their children, but somehow we have to do that while also sending the message that two parent homes are the better way to go.
On Saturday I also admitted a premature baby whose single mother was twenty years old. It was her second pregnancy, with the first ending in a stillbirth. The maternal grandmother of the baby told me how important this pregnancy was to the mother, how important it was to successfully deliver, for her self confidence and feeling of well being. I thought I was going to gag.
And we haven't even begun to talk about the fathers of these kids.
P.S. Check out a new Grand Rounds at Parallel Universes.