The situation of lone mothers’ in Lithuania. Social, economic and demographic aspects

Vida Kanopienė


Since the beginning of the 1990s the new trends in the matrimonial behaviour and formation of the families were revealed in Lithuania: the rapid diminution of marriages and the growth of divorce rates, the noticeable increase of the number of the illegitimate births. The spreading of the lone mothers families in the country is a direct consequence of these processes. According to the data of the international survey „Fertility and family in Lithuania”, more than 10 per cent of the women aged 18-49 bring up their children without a spouse or partner. The families of young women are formed in the result of the birth of the illegitimate child while majority of those older than 24 are divorced or widows. Lately cohabitation is becoming very popular among the youngest cohorts, therefore the consensual unions, being not stable and not lasting for a longer time, can also become an important determinant of the increase of lone-parent families in the future.
The findings of qualitative survey, carried out in 20012-2002 (ten in-depth interviews with lone mothers - previously not married, divorced and widows - were conducted) show that economic problems are the most urgent to one-parent families: in most cases they are neither supported by the father of the children nor receive any assistance from the state. The evaluation of the personal experience and the present state of affairs depend upon the marital status of lone mother: public opinion is favourable only towards widows while the others very often experience the negative attitude of the surrounding. The lone mothers are treated as „different”, leading the inferior and inadequate to the social norms way of life.
All women under survey have stressed the role of father for children and were trying their best to compensate the absence of both parents in the family. However, they were very pessimistic towards the prospects of the new marriage and emphasised the interests of children as the main priority. The investigation has confirmed the results of the previously conducted surveys that in many Lithuanian families the mothers are responsible for the upbringing and care of the children while the primary role of the fathers’ is that of a bred winner of the family. However, this role is conducted only within the marriage.


one-parent family; lone mother; matrimonial behaviour; qualitative sociological survey; social-psychological and economical problems

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789