Got something to say?
Please, someone somewhere get it right- a "single mother" is exactly that, a woman who parents on her own. NOT someone who is divorced/separated and sharing custody! As a woman who parents on her own ( my husband died) and works and doesn't receive handouts and doesn't get any "free" nights to go out or re-charge b/c my kids are with my ex I would appreciate the distiction being made.
This is an astute observation, to be sure. I am a part time single mother who shares custody with an ex, but my close friend parents her boy all alone, not because of widowhood, but because of the father's lack of responsibility, and it is a dramatically different circumstance.Nonetheless, I do feel the self-consciousness that stems from the stigma outlined in this article whenever I am around my kids' classrooms or picking up/dropping off at birthday parties and the like. As the article pointed out, though, society is far more forgiving to mothers who are single due to circumstances beyond their control than to those of us who choose such a condition so, despite the distinction you wish to make clear, the societal/cultural attitudes still favor you.
I'm a single mama. I embarked on the parenting journey with another woman, who backed out when I was three months pregnant. It's hard to find other single lesbian women...i think that is good. I think most women stick around for their kids...and yet, i'd love to know at least another one in my shoes. Sometimes too, I don't feel single at all...because my home is a pair, me and my son...and I know i'm the single parent...but the parenting I do is such a ripple from my friends. still i'm lonely at times. aren't we all?
I am a single mom and I'm also in poverty! My married neighbors feed their kids chocolate and strawberry milk, coffee (!), candy, soda pop, etc etc. And bathe their kids about once a week. In my OWN opinion, my mothering rocks esp. compared to people like this. Now, who's children are going to be a drain on society's health care? I'm just saying... we can generalize everything but sucky parents are sucky parents, gay straight married or single. And a TON of single moms are single b/c they found out too late that the dad's were going to be sucky parents.
There's a whole additional group of us -- suburban moms who are not in poverty but chose a much reduced standard of living in order to leave a marriage. In my case there was no dramatic abuse, just soul-sucking misery. Wrong person, bad match. Good father (now that we're divorced and he stepped up) but the social structure in the burbs is designed for two-parent families. Very isolating, as well as a big financial struggle compared to many (if not most) of wealthy two-parent households.
All interesting comments, I am a married parent, daughter of a divorced single mother. I am also a survey researcher. If Pew had asked for a rank order and listed choices lilke: two disengaged parents with mid-upper income, one engaged parent with mid-upper income, two engaged poor parents, one engaged poor parent, etc. the results would have been entirely differnt. One good or great parent is far better than two inattentive or worse abusive parents any day. I was lucky as a child, I had two good parents, who just were not good at being married to each other.
Single MothersAs the media touts the many problems in the homes of single mothers, please remember that most single moms love their children like everyone else but they also:Have chosen to give a life rather than take one.May have chosen to save a child from a living a life filled with violence and hatred.May have chosen to be solely responsible for a life knowing the road would not be easy.May have chosen to raise a child alone when its father died far too early in life.May have chosen to love and care for a child when its father simply walked away.May have chosen to be responsible for their part of an action that resulted in a child.May struggle daily to provide the best they can for a child no matter the cost to themselves.So, the next time you hear someone criticize single moms, remind them that being a single mom is rarely something one plans to do but is instead may be a loving and responsible choice to circumstances beyond their control.
It seems to me important to sort out various layers in this argument. The Pew survey was based on an emotion -- "approval" -- which leads quite naturally to an emotional response. The response to that response from many single moms -- myself included -- is that my kids are thriving, etc. etc. etc. But, if statistics are a part of the picture, by virtually every measure -- health of mother, of children, academic success, financial stability, residential stability, career, even longevity of children -- single parenting comes out as a negative. This applies across the socio-ecoomic board. So --while many of us do a heroic job and have kids who turn out quite well -- it is a good idea to think about the topic both emotionally and rationally. This is not the case where domestic violence is involved when it is always a good idea to get out. It's relatively recent that people have thought about marriage as requiring a level of emotional satisfaction. Until then it was a way to have economic stability and the best division of labor possible to raise the next generation. When we started making emotional choices to leave marriage, the economic and labor reasons to stay in didn't necessarily go away.
My daughter is now 27. I raised her as a single parent from the time she was six months old. Her father announced he was in love with another woman and wanted a divorce, just weeks after I had quit my job to be a stay-home mom. My married friends immediately disappeared from my life. I had been particuarly close to one couple. When I most needed their friendship and emotional support, they were gone. My ex-husband became a true Disneyland Dad. Our daughter loved going to his house because there were no rules. She ate what she wanted, watched what she wanted on TV, and stayed up as late as she pleased. He had her to visit whenever it was convenient for him. I could never make plans in advance because he might not show up to collect her. For years, his wife would not allow me to have their non-published telephone number. He went to all the school programs for her kids (from a previous marriage), but he never came to see his own daughter in anything. I was the one who took her to the doctor and dentist, attended teacher conferences, made sure her homework was done, and washed pukey sheets at 3:00 a.m. I worked for years at a job I hated because it had good insurance. I made raising my daughter a priority. The only place where I was judged and criticized for being a single parent was church. Instead of love and acceptance, I was treated as if I had a thousand communicable diseases because I was divorced. My daughter was questioned by a Sunday School teacher as to her father's whereabouts. She replied "I guess he's home watching MASH." Her teacher obviously assumed my ex-husband was in jail or drug rehab, or that his whereabouts were unknown. I didn't earn a lot of money, but we got by. I became an expert in finding free or low-cost things for us to do. We went to plays put on by the university drama department, and concerts given by the music department. We went to the public library every week and stocked up on books and movies. My daughter became an avid reader. She graduated from high school with honors and went on to college. I taught my daughter how to shop sales, spot a bargain, and use coupons at the grocery store. Years later, when she got her first apartment, she was horrified at her roommates' shopping habits. "They just throw anything into the buggy and don't compare prices or use coupons," she complained. She also had to show them how to sort laundry! I wasn't a perfect mom by any means. There are mistakes I'll regret until my dying day. But I am very proud of the young woman my daughter has become. Incidentally, Disneyland Dad's second wife left him for another man. She stole all his furniture and tools, and ruined his credit. Time may not heal all wounds, but it wounds all heels.
This is a fantastic and wonderful article. I have written many myself about my experiences and about how to uplift single mothers above and beyond handouts and doing what it takes to make it work. I'm a single mother of THREE - My first I divorced my abusive ex and he pays very little in support -financially and emotionally. The other two - the men ran out or were abusive but I take care of them 100%. I take full responsibility for my relationship carelessness but I can afford to care for my children. I tread in unchartered waters which makes me a threat to a lot of people. I also remind married individuals that just as easy it is to THINK your marriage is safe, it just as easily can fall apart and then you are joining the single mom club
I'm a single mama, and proud of it. My son's father and I were never married, but we were in a committed relationship for 5 years. He has a good job, pays his child support, and sees his son one weekend/mo (travels from another state). Financially, I am OK. I'm highly educated and his dad has a well paying and secure job. I can't totally make ends meet all the time, so I pick up other work "on the side" to allow for "extras" - like babysitting, saving a bit for retirement.I am very single, and I'm the parent in charge about 98% of the time. I am occasionally jealous of friends & acquaintances who have joint custody and "days off" from parenting. OTOH, I am in charge, get to make all the decisions about my child, and get to see him all the time! And I have the added benefit of not having to see/deal with his dad very often.I have NOT had experiences of feeling stigmatized due to my single parent status. While I'm single, I do not feel alone in my parenting. Our best friends are a couple whose son is my son's best friend. They are extended family (I found out the dad refers to me as "my second wife"- I now call him my "non-conjugal husband"). We help each other out, carpool, and have carte blanche to parent/discipline each others' kids. I also always have a "stable" of trustworthy sitters. I have to have this in order to have a social life, and to meet all my work commitments. So, why have I NOT felt the stigma that others have? Some thoughts:- I'm in my 40's, I'm no kid- I'm highly educated- I'm white, and middle class- I have zero shame and tons of pride about the job I'm doing as a single mom - and the help that makes it possible- I live in an urban, liberal, progressive area.- I know/cross paths with a lot of less traditional families - single moms by choice, families with combinations of adopted/bio kids, families with 2 moms or 2 dads.- I'm fortunate to have a job with a lot of flexibility - this helps me be available to be involved in his activities and such(currently, it didn't used to be this way!
Excellent article! I've been a single mom for 15 years to two awesome kids. It is such a bore to read all about how single moms are a drain on society, blah, blah, blah. People will always look for someone to blame and unfortunately women end up being the scapegoat, and women parenting children alone are a double target.I appreciate the thoroughness of this article and the thoughtful way it was written. Very balanced and sensationalized.Like a couple of other moms, I live in the 'burbs and am blessed to be able to provide for my children without a "handout". I have the privilege of homeschooling my son and get to pick up my teen daughter from school because I work from home.Like someone else said, I've made unhealthy relationship choices in the past so I have two different fathers to deal with. One pays and in mediocre in his involvement and the other disappeared when I was five months pregnant. It was God's grace and sheer determination to keep moving forward and creating a life I can be proud of with my kids.Church people had the biggest issue with my "status" and caused so much guilt I decided to separate myself from them completely. I'm much happier.I've thrown off the single mom label and now embrace my true self...a woman with two awesome kids!
I think children raised by single mothers (with no other parent sharing custody) have a better chance of escaping gender stereotypes, and this is a positive step towards a cultural awareness of gender equality.
This article struck all kinds of chords with me, as a relatively recently single mom--my ex left the province four months ago and hasn't been back since. Before that he had minimal intervention in my daughter's life.I'd be curious if these statistics held true in Canada as well. I have been stigmatized because of my single mom status, but I'm also very up-front about my first priority being my kid, and that might not help. :)To be honest, I probably judge myself more than other people do, simply because I'm not proud of some of the choices I've made along the way, and I feel that I've probably disadvantaged my kid. That being said, I'm a way better parent on my own than I was in a miserable marriage (or, to be honest, sharing custody), and I'm pretty sure my kid realizes that too.
Thanks for this column. Unless you have been through anything you have no compassion. Unfortunately, we prize this type of woman child in this culture, still. It is a safe meal ticket. If you are more than a man pleasing baby maker you die, or they will when this life time gold digging scam is up. Soc.sec. is gone, on women who never work and collect $, and have time to ridicule single moms and etc....just looking back with the lens they look with, like disguised bullies
Post a Comment