We are all familiar with the phrase, “Sometimes, it takes a village to raise a child.”
However, some single and divorced women have found that a “mommune” may be something to consider. (No, “mommune” is not a typo and I did not mean to write “commune”!)
Welcome to the Mommune
A commune is generally a group of people living together and sharing possessions, finances, and responsibilities. Similarly, a mommune is one or more mothers who have chosen to live together for economic and social benefits, including built-in childcare, companionship, and socialization for the parents and any children residing within the household.
While these living arrangements are nothing new in various cultural communities, the combination of a spiking divorce rate during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and the daunting record of the economic fall-out visited upon women post-divorce has caused many moms to consider alternate living arrangements.
A direct response to divorce
The scope of the underlying problem is enormous. The United States has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. 14.7 million children (one in five of all children in the US) live in households receiving child support or should be receiving child support. 33.7 billion dollars in child support was owed during the year 2015.
Further highlighting the problem, the US Census Bureau also reported that single parents received some of the child support money but far less than what was owed. Less than half of all child support that was due was paid. 30% of the custodial parents received no child support, and almost 26% received only a fraction of the support due to them. The average amount paid in child support was $287 per month.
Photo: Ulza via Shutterstock
Many children live at or below the federally recognized poverty line. Children living only with their mothers were more than twice as likely to live in poverty than those living only with their fathers (35% vs 17.4%). Alarmingly, most of these statistics are pre-Covid and are not expected to improve any time soon.
Given the disruption that divorce visits upon all of the participants and the fragile economic reality of life after divorce, it is not surprising that many custodial mothers are seeking out the company and support of other similarly situated moms.
Take, for example, the dire situation faced by Kristin Batykefer, who moved into her family friends’ 4- 4-bedroom Florida home with Kristin’s four-year-old daughter when she lost her job and her marriage fell apart.
Several months later, Kristin’s best friend, Tessa Gilder, also went through a divorce. Tessa had two children, including a daughter the same age as Kristin’s. Kristin then invited Gilder to join her, and Tessa moved from Colorado to live with her former college roommate and all of their children in Batykefer’s Florida home.
A solution to practical challenges
As Kristin explained it: “When I had to leave my husband, all I could think about was how I now had to figure out how to do everything on my own – buy a house on my own, pay my bills on my own, and raise my child on my own.” Kristin admitted that she never thought about finding another single mom to live with. “We just fell into it.” But now they wonder why more people have not considered joining forces like this.
Indeed, the idea of a “mommune” is catching on quickly, thanks in no small part to Batykefer. When she posted the benefits of a mommune on TikTok, she garnered 1.2 million views and requests to learn more about the arrangement. As well as offers of food, freshly baked cookies, and other direct and indirect support. In one of her recent posts, Kristin extolled its benefits for children who have built-in playmates and an emotional support system.
As for the moms’ side benefits, Batykefer explained that she and her new roommate also get to experience concerts, movie nights, home salon days, and weekends together when the children are with their ex-spouses. In the final survey, it works well for these moms and children.
That gives us some food for thought.
Ronald Bavero is a highly regarded divorce attorney, legal educator, and author of the critically acclaimed, five-star book, “An Elephant Doesn’t Marry A Giraffe – Everything I Learned As A Divorce Attorney.” He also maintains a website of information and valuable articles about the process of divorce and separation.
This article was originally published at my website. Reprinted with permission from the author.