Over the past few years a number of studies have come out which purport to show that children raised in single-parent households are more likely to live in poverty, lag behind in academics, and have more emotional problems than children raised in two-parent households. And who is to blame for all of this? Well, according to the interpretation of many so-called “experts” . . . it is Single Mothers.
A Google search turns up headlines such as: “Why Do Single Parent Families Put Children At Risk?”; “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?”; “Single Parent Families Threaten America’s Fiscal Future”; . . . and “Single Motherhood: Worse for Children.”
Blaming single mothers is wrong. In fact, it’s stupid. Historically, it has been single moms who have stepped up to the plate and supported the children when fathers abandoned the family or were only peripherally involved. Single mothers are the ones who have shouldered the responsibility of raising the children — disciplining them, getting them off to school, helping with homework, soothing them when they are sick, and taking care of all their needs. Single mothers are the ones who have gone to work to put clothes on their children’s backs, and food on the table, when fathers are not providing support. In many cases, mothers are the only person in their children’s lives whom they can rely on. Why blame single mothers?
It is too easy to glance at a set of statistics and immediately look for someone to blame. But that is exactly what the “experts” are doing. Assessing blame in this manner requires ignoring a wide array of societal factors that contribute to childhood outcomes. For instance, one could argue that it is poverty, and not single parenthood, that places a child “at risk.” Single parents are more likely to be below the poverty level, for obvious reasons. If a mother is not receiving child support from the father – or not enough child support – then it is no surprise that she and her children will struggle financially. She will have to find a job, or maybe two, to make ends meet. If the children are being raised in an area of town where crime is rampant, and attending a faltering school, then the odds are higher that those children will be considered “at risk.” Is that the mother’s “fault”? Why isn’t it the fault of the parent who has chosen to take no responsibility at all for the children?
The fact is that in some instances the children are better off being raised by a single parent rather than living in a home with parents who are angry and hostile toward each other; or being negatively influenced by a parent who is disconnected and irresponsible, or who suffers from substance abuse or untreated mental illness — or, worse yet, who is abusive. Those who claim that children are better off living with both a father and mother conveniently ignore the fact that many of those two-parent households are a toxic environment.
And what about mothers who are single by choice? If an unmarried person wants a child and is loving, capable, and able to provide a safe, nurturing home, then why should she not have a child, or adopt one? I know an unmarried doctor who adopted and raised three happy children. She is a knowledgeable, attentive, and devoted parent; and her children are certain to have a bright future. I can’t imagine a married couple providing a better environment for a child.
In truth, the vast majority of single mothers do an outstanding job of providing for their children, while balancing work and parenting. They often shoulder the responsibility alone and still manage to provide a loving and nurturing home. Some of the most successful people in the world today have been raised by single mothers – including the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.
To blame single-motherhood for the ills of society is an injustice. Single moms should receive a medal. They are heroes.
The Law Office of Gary J. Frank has been a fixture in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years. Gary Frank is a Family Law litigator, a mediator, and a former Judge Pro Tem. Our firm handles a wide array of cases, such as divorce, custody (Legal Decision-Making and Parenting-Time), relocation, paternity, child and spousal support, division of property and businesses, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all matters relating to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation contact us today. You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at [email protected], or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. We’d be honored to help you.