Living as a Member of Single-Mother Families in Korea Essay

Living as a Member of Single-Mother Families in Korea Essay

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Living as a Member of Single-Mother Families in Korea
Becoming Single-Mother Families
Women can become single due to a variety of reasons, including widowhood, separation, divorce, abandonment, and non-marital childbirth. While divorce and non-marital childbirth are the major paths to be single (Weinraub et al., 2002), widowhood and divorce have been the primary reasons of being single mothers for Korean women in the past decade (Yang, 2004). In particular, the number of single mothers through divorce is rapidly increasing in the past decade (Kong, 2000). In the traditional society, only men can initiate divorce. The husband can divorce the wife when his wife violates any of the following seven conditions: failure to give birth to a son, disobedience to parents-in-law, outspokenness, stealing, jealousy, adultery, and hereditary disease (Yu, 1987). In contemporary Korea, the major reasons for divorce include extra-marital affairs, spousal abuse, neglect or abandonment of the family. In particular, divorced women report spouse abuse as the leading cause of divorce while divorced men report extra-marital affairs (Yoo, 2000).
Social and Self-Perception of Single-Mother Families in Korean Society
Traditionally, divorce brings “shame” to the entire family (Im, 2003). Since the powerful Confucian patriarchy as a sociopolitical system since Chosun era has emphasized the importance of the family unit and its harmony, divorce is viewed as social failure and a stigma to avoid. Divorced men or women are seen as breaking up their families, the single most important social unit in Confucian culture (Park et al., 2008). Thus, the members of divorced families tend to suffer from a heavier stigma than those in American society (Park, Murgatro...


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...e of her children, match between genders of the mother and her child, e.g., mother-daughter, father-son, psychological distress level, relationship qualities between her ex-spouse and children, religion, physical and mental health status, etiology of formation of single-mother families (divorce, separation, widowhood, etc), duration of being a single-mother family (Kim, 1996; Kim et al., 1995; Kong, 2000; Moon et al., 2000). Mothers’ educational level, in particular, is a strong predictor of the family’s well-being across studies, whereas it is not the case in research conducted in Europe and the U.S. (Kong, 2000). Although outcomes of interests are rarely analyzed by the type of single motherhood in research, widowhood has more positive outcomes than single motherhood by divorce (Park, 2008) on mothers’ depression, general well-being, and self-esteem (Kong, 2000).

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