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It’s fun to shame single moms

Jennifer Aniston at the 2008 Toronto Internati...
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Five days ago, Jennifer Aniston released a (by all reports) mediocre film about a 40 year old woman who decides to have a child by artificial insemination. It’s called Switch.

Cue the traditional family apologists. Didn’t we all go through this in the 90s with Murphy Brown?

In response to Jennifer Aniston’s film concept:

“Women are realizing more and more that you don’t have to settle, they don’t have to fiddle with a man to have that child,” Aniston said. “They are realizing if it’s that time in their life and they want this part they can do it with or without that.”

[...]

Aniston even engaged in one testy exchange with a reporter who insisted that her movie character was being “selfish” having a child without a father-figure in her life. Minutes after the question was asked, Aniston circled back and insisted that family life has “evolved” from strictly “the traditional stereotype of family.”
from PopEater.com

The NY Post’s cock-inspecting Andrea Peyser rants:

So, the nuclear family is a “stereotype.” And your beloved dog Spot has been replaced by whoever happens to be hanging around your immediate sphere. With that ringing endorsement, women everywhere reached for the baster. (Hey — Calista Flockhart, Sheryl Crow, Jodie Foster and Murphy Brown did it. In heels!)

Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the artificial-insemination clinic. I hear a backlash.
from NYPost.com

Get your ears checked honey.

Even the woman you quote in your article wouldn’t touch your argument with a 10-foot straw man.

Peyser uses Mikki Morrissette‘s story as a cautionary tale (you’ll end up lonely and broke), seamlessly segueing to stereotypes about the offspring of single moms (pregnant girls, boys in jail).

When Mikki gave birth to Sophia, now 11, she was a six-figure Time Inc. editor who owned a Manhattan one-bedroom. But New York “was just a very expensive place to live as a single mother.” Also lonely. So after 18 years in the city, she returned to her home state of Minnesota. A guru to single moms, she never lies about the perils.

The statistics are oft-repeated, but too often rejected by the Hollywood crowd who wield their out-of-wedlock children like trophies: Daughters raised without fathers are more likely to get pregnant as teens. Dadless boys are more likely to wind up in jail.

Mom’s money doesn’t change this, but it helps pay for rehab.

The problem? Ms Morrissette argued the opposite point several years ago.

The quick version of what “studies say” about single-parent homes is that its boys end up in jail, its girls end up sexually promiscuous, and that high school dropout rates are high. What the quick version doesn’t mention is that this often has more to do with divorced/abandoned homes when household income drops substantially. And that generally this involves parents who are depressed, narcissistic or otherwise lacking in the ability to sustain a nurturing and attentive environment for their children.

A child born into a Choice household is not torn apart by divorce. Many Choice Moms make upwards of $60,000 a year, own their home in a child-friendly neighborhood, and do not experience the emotional upheaval of a downward economic slide.
Huffington Post

A rant over this topic ensued last night when my single friend collected her (happy, healthy, confident) sleeping toddler from my living room last night. I told her what I was writing and what had been written. She, too, underscored the difference between women who “drift into motherhood” and those who consciously choose it.

For most women, the choice to have children is not a choice but the non-choice. If you’re straight and not celibate, chances are that you will end up pregnant. And since Irish women don’t have abortions (*cough*), pregnancy inevitably leads to a child, wanted or not.

A friend of mine told me that when she gave birth at 20 (unplanned, but welcome) she was shocked to be handed an infant at the end of it all.

“I’m not sure what I was expecting,” she said,” a puppy maybe?”

I’m not saying she and her boyfriend have not been excellent parents. But you have to compare the situation she would be in if he had left to the home where a woman has made a conscious decision to bring a child into her life.

She’s saved up the money, looked into childcare, done the expenses. She has either completed an extraordinary journey through adoption screening, or she has found a way to get pregnant without a male partner. All of this requires big planning. And she has done it without planning to be reliant on another primary care giver. She’s assessed her crucial support system.

Society loves to shame those it believes should not be parents. Natural biological urges are the privilege of only straight, partnered, wealthy people according to people like Peyser. Nobody else should deign to bring a child into the world. Hey, those kids might blast their unfounded arguments into tiny little pieces, and who would want that?

(if you do, read on…)

My mother did so many things right. She was devoted to me. She was more interested in discovering who I was than in molding me into any preconceived image. Her parenting style was relatively hands-off, trusting me to make choices that would aid me in my own process of knowing myself.

An advantage to the way I grew up is that I never witnessed my parents fighting. As far as fears some have that a guy like me will grow up overly aggressive, or less analytical, because of the lack of a father in the home–it doesn’t make sense. I went to a competitive prep school, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from college as a computer science major. There are a lot of stereotypes about single parenting, and it seems as if we’re all clumped into the same category.

My mother means the world to me, and me to her. I think that had I been raised by two parents, that bond would logically be decreased by half.

I don’t agree with the idea that men do some things better than women, and vice versa–the idea that you need a man and a woman to balance the parenting. People are complex. One person can do so many things, in many different ways.

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2 Comments

  • Thanks for this!
    I knew when Andrea Peyser called from the Post that I was in for a little trouble in print, in terms of what she would use and what she wouldn’t. We had a lovely, friendly conversation about lots of things. But I wasn’t surprised to see how it was boiled down for her point. Just too bad there are so many who want to see our wonderful families and children as somehow “less.” Our kids are quite happy to have such conscious parenting.
    Mikki Morrissette
    Founder, Choice Moms

    Mikki Morrissette said:
  • You’ll be happy to know the most basic of google searches turns up much that contradicts her misconstruction of your words anyway.

    I just checked out your website. What a marvelous resource! And thanks for commenting.

     

    CanuckJacq (author) said:
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