This study applies critical discourse analysis to examine the relationship between the imagery and the legitimacy attached to single mothers, as well as the social policy designed for them. The correlation between images, legitimacy, and policy was examined during three decades (the 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s) of extensive legislation pertaining to single-parent mothers. The data have been drawn from a diversity of sources, including Knesset debates, Knesset committee discussions, women's organizations, the media, and semi-structured interviews. The study shows that welfare policy necessarily encapsulates cultural perceptions and basic assumptions pertaining to certain segments of society. These beliefs anchor justifications for the expansion or limitation of social rights and reveal how the development of social rights is linked to cultural and social apprehension.