A Single Mother’s Irresponsible Defense of Single Motherhood

To be fair, Murphy had an excuse for being irresponsible: she didn't exist.

To be fair, Murphy had an excuse for being irresponsible: she didn’t exist.

Allow me to stipulate:

1. Katy Chatel has every right to have a child if she wants to.

2. I accept her assertion that she is able to be, and will be, an exemplary parent, and that her child will not suffer in any way for want of a father.

3. Everything in her Washington Post essay “I’m a single mother by choice. One parent can be better than two” may be accurate and correct from her point of view, which as far as her own life is concerned, is all that matters. I will accept, for the purpose of this post, that it is correct.

4. This is a free country, and she can express any opinion that she chooses.

 Nevertheless,  she should not have written the article, which is irresponsible and cannot avoid doing more harm than good.

In some ways, this is the Murphy Brown argument all over again.Vice President Dan Quayle delivered a family-values speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in which he criticized the fictional TV news reporter played by Candace Bergen on the popular sitcom for her decision to have a child outside of marriage.  Quayle said,

“Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong. Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong. We must be unequivocal about this. It doesn’t help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.”

Quayle’s position was promptly attacked by the liberals, Democrats, Hollywood and the media. The show reveled in the attention and controversy, and even worked it into the storyline. “Perhaps it’s time for the vice president to expand his definition and recognize that, whether by choice or circumstance, families come in all shapes and sizes,” Murphy said.

It didn’t help that Quayle was the Sarah Palin of his day: he could have accurately expounded on string theory and it would have been derided as the ramblings of a moron. It would have been nice—exemplary, even—if a prominent liberal Democrat had the integrity to back up what Quayle said, which was self-evidently true. Sen. Pat Moynihan comes to mind: as a prominent sociology scholar, he knew Quayle was right. This was a close Presidential race, however, and Hollywood was a major donor to the Clinton campaign. So much for integrity. Years later, even Bergen conceded that Quayle was right. “I never have really said much about the whole episode, which was endless,” the actress told People in 2002.  “But his speech was a perfectly intelligent speech about fathers not being dispensable and nobody agreed with that more than I did.”

Murphy was another in the long line of high-profile, wealthy and privileged characters, real and fictional, who have glamorized and endorsed destructive conduct for those who do not have the unusual resources and support networks that their reckless role models do. Research indicates that marriage benefits children, and that those with two parents living together tend to be better off than children who have just a mother or a father raising them. Those who live with both biological parents are more likely to graduate from high school and are less likely to get pregnant or arrested. They have lower rates of suicide, and earn more as adults. Children raised in single-parent families are less healthy, more likely to misbehave, engage in criminal activity and be unemployed—and to start single parent families. In a 2012 article, also in the Post,  Isabell Sawhill, who was and is senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the Center on Children and Families, concluded….

“Dan Quayle was right. Unless the media, parents and other influential leaders celebrate marriage as the best environment for raising children, the new trend — bringing up baby alone — may be irreversible.”

Articles like Chatal’s don’t help. Because she is convinced that she can raise a child better by herself, she makes assertions that will serve as instant rationalizations and  justifications for this toxic conduct by women who, unlike her, can’t. Some examples:

I wonder why more people don’t choose single motherhood. Parenting alone allows me to make the best decisions for my son without needing to compromise for a partner’s differing personal beliefs, needs or career demands.

They don’t do it because it’s hard, because the research says that its likely to fail, and because not everyone believes that taking on a difficult, stressful, time-consuming task solo is preferential to having a partner and ally to share the job.

There’s an assumption that single motherhood results from women’s poor decisions and that parenting alone can’t possibly be a fit way to raise children.

That’s not an assumption, it’s a fact, at least when the deceitful absolutes are removed. The author is playing straw man games: single motherhood frequently results from women’s poor decisions, and parenting alone is a risky way to raise children.

A 2011 Pew Research Center poll found that 61 percent of Americans believe a child needs both a mother and a father to grow up happily. Seven out of 10 think single women having children is bad for society. I’ve never seen it that way.

Well, whether she sees it that way or not, that’s what the data shows, and that’s the reasonable conclusion from our society’s experience. What Chatel means is, “That doesn’t necessarily apply when the single mother is me. Swell, and maybe she’s right. I hope she is, for her sake and her child’s. But her statement is phrased to serve as an argument that any and every women is responsible to choose single parenthood, and that’s the equivalent of throwing kerosene on a fire that’s out of control already.

Single motherhood is no longer an unusual choice, and many single moms don’t reflect the stereotype.

“Everybody does it,”  and not everyone who smokes doesn’t get lung cancer. Weak.

Most [single mothers[ do not live in poverty, use food stamps or go to food pantries.

I thought we were talking about what was best for the children.

The whole essay, in fact, reads like someone trying to convince herself that what she is doing isn’t just reasonable, but virtuous. I hope writing it was therapeutic, but the ethical course would have been for Katy to keep it to herself. Publishing it in the Washington Post will encourage women without her advantages and skills to dismiss the very legitimate warnings about starting a family without a committed father in the mix. That’s still irresponsible, and so is Katy Chatel’s article.

___________________________

Spark: The Washington Post

 

 

58 thoughts on “A Single Mother’s Irresponsible Defense of Single Motherhood

  1. I went looking for some data to test a couple of your propositions here, and did not find what I expected. But here’s what I did find.

    In data for single-parent households in Western countries (US, Denmark, Canada, France, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Germany) several things show up. One is that the US rates have grown considerably, as you suggest: from 19.5% of all-households-with-children to 29.5% over 20 years. Second, that amount (29.5%) makes the US the highest in single-parent households, with UK a close second; to my surprise, Denmark and Sweden have quite a bit lower rates. So it would appear, as you suggest, we do indeed have an issue.

    But I think there’s also something else going on here. We also have such an issue in the US with income disparity and incarceration levels that it’s hard to untangle the effects of single-parent families from the effects of lower-income households and neighborhoods, and the effects of the criminal justice system.

    When you link single-parent households with educational achievement, health, and criminal activity, you’re almost certainly describing a multi-variable problem, not a single-variable problem.

    For example: the birth rate to unwed mothers in Sweden is higher than in the US; but the number of single-parent households is lower. Why? Because they live together in Sweden (where far, far fewer fathers are in prison). And while I don’t have data to prove it, I’d bet that the life of a single-parent child in Denmark is not nearly so different from that of his classmates as it is in this country. The Scandinavian countries have kids without marriage, and strong social safety nets. In the US, we have more kids with marriage, but living in single-family homes because the fathers are in prison.

    (Seriously: the US rate of incarceration is 500% higher than that of Iraq, and even shockingly higher still than for any other country listed above. Only one country in the world – Seychelles – imprisons higher percentages of its citizenry than the US). My guess is incarceration rates trump single-parent households when it comes to causing problems (or, more likely, incarceration rates are a major cause behind the single-parent families).

    Net net it’s not as simple as pointing to “single family households” and inferring causality. There are at least several other factors at work, specifically including those I’ve listed above.

    I’ll bet you $20 that the average US single-family parent – who is disproportionately non-white, inner city, with lower educational attainment levels – is far more influenced by the father being in prison than she is by some well-off white lady living in New Hampshire and writing in the Washington Post.

    I just think your causal instincts are a little off on that one.

    • There are so many chickens and eggs here that the omelet cannot be clarified: I agree. Poverty, a toxic culture, drugs, crime as an occupation, low self-esteem, distrust, racism, poor education, poor parenting, absent fathers, terrible cultural messages, the legacy of slavery, a liberal establishment that can’t afford to let blacks escape victim status, bad role models, and on and on. I don’t think that if every black family had a two parent household, the entrenched crisis of class and race would be solved or anything close to it. But it’s one of many factors that contribute to a crushing problem.

      Sweden is a homogenous population and a wildly different culture. I don’t think anything can be learned from that comparison.

      • Fatherhood has been derided for years now. Even if one doesn’t fall into the media trap of Homer Simpsons and Peter Griffins, it’s still an extremely thankless job. When I look at the traits commonly associated with traditional fatherhood – prudence, wisdom, self-reliance, responsibility, endurance, fair play, even innovation and roughhousing – they’re all traits which have gone the way of the dodo, it seems. I’m not saying Mom’s cannot teach those traits, but I see a correlation between the diminishment of the father role and the loss of these virtues.

        Now, motherhood is praised to the heavens. It’s hard work, after all. But it often seems that the current cultural norm is that fathers are irrelevant. Completely unneccsary. And even when Dad is in the family, his role is best portrayed as an assistant mother, helping the mom raise the children when she needs a break. Certainly the idea of an alternate form of parenting – a uniquely masculine form – is rarely discussed or considered.

        Add to your chicken and the egg scenario what the logical results would be with at least a whole generation of boys, men, and fathers told their whole lives that Dads aren’t important – in fact, completely useless. That at best, they’re incompetent moms who make more messes than they clean up, and at worst, they’re children who must be parented by the kids. That most men run or panic at the thought of having children; that their every instinct about kids is wrong and dangerous. With this kind of poison in the well, I don’t blame fellows for not wanting to drink deeply. I just know that my own experience with my father and grandfather and uncles is that they are a fount of wisdom and love – imperfect sometimes, but earnest. Far more Tevye than Tim Taylor.

        • Parenthood is often a thankless job–both for the mom and the dad–but it’s what parents sign up for. The benefits are watching your child grow into a happy, healthy adult. For every Peter Griffin, there’s a Disney movie where there is no mother (or worse, a wicket stepmother), but a wonderfully loving father (Finding Nemo, Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc.). Does this mean anything to me as a parent? No. Does it affect my children? Our family makes jokes about it.
          Most parents I know–including me and my husband–rely on each others’ strengths in certain areas. I help with the homework and my husband volunteers at baseball practice. There’s no television show on that could convince my children that fathers are buffoons because they know their father; he’s a good cook, a total slob, a music lover, and an outdoor enthusiast. I also have my good and not-so-good points, which my children are well aware of.
          I’m getting a vibe of excuses (they’re not appreciated, their roles are changing, the media makes fathers look like morons) explaining why fathers might not being around like they should. Any father worth his salt (and I know many good ones) could care less about perceived images of fathers; they would just simply do their best to be a great father to their children.

          • Actually, I’d put a father who is capable of doing their best to be a great father while simultaneously monitoring and being aware of the messages their children receive from the world around them as being worth a great deal more salt. We all take in what we are surrounded by – heck, sociologists and biblical scholars alike agree on that much.

            I’ll concede that Disney, at least, is capable of portraying fathers in a positive light. Marlin in finding nemo is one such example – Paacha in emperor’s New groove and the absent father in the more recent princess and the frog are shining examples, as well. However, Belle’s father is an incompetent buffoon, although a loving and doting one. His skills include blowing things up, failing to read a map (sigh), insisting that an obviously dangerous path is a viable shortcut (even an animal knows better than he does!), and placing both himself and his daughter in a position where she needs to step in to save them both not once, but twice.

            We agree that parenting is both difficult and rewarding. I merely wish to make clear that with men, it is made increasingly difficult by having to strive uphill against social norms. If your husband is a big strong man who can do his job without flinching while the world sniggers, good. Many men, however, are more human than robot, and would more appreciate support and kindness as they strive to carry out their difficult tasks than they would appreciate additional obstacles and burdens strewn about because it is blithely assumed they can handle it.

            • This Disney conversation is very interesting. It’s our modern version of Greek mythology; they mirror how we think about things. Thanks you two.

            • My point was that children are more closely affected by their family than what they may see in sitcoms. And what does a big strong man have to do with raising children? I don’t know a single parent who doesn’t have to struggle to raise responsible, healthy, good children. You seem to be suggesting that men should get some sort of extra credit for being good fathers because the media is out to get them. That’s ridiculous. Is my husband’s job harder because Homer Simpson is portrayed as an idiot? No, of course not.

    • Sweden and Denmark are countries the size and population of Minnesota, with pasty white, homogenous populations, centuries of stoic Protestant cultural background, and (in the case of Denmark) an immigration policy that boils down to “keep out, different people.”

      The next Google-y challenged person this year who compares the United States of America to some little lily-white European subdivision with nice lakes…I’m not even going to explain why it’s stupid.

      Google some more. I can assure you that all other things being equal, a single-parent child is at a disadvantage. If a family approximating marriage while not quite being marriage is better than a single parent raising a kid alone…how is that surprising? It follows. And how does that validate a dumb article about how single parenting can be totes the best?

      • I’ve never understood why people insist on comparing the United States to countries that have little to nothing in common with us. I constantly see it with regards to the U.S. vs Japan, especially education.

        Japan is another small country with a very homogenous population, few minorities, one language, one predominant religion, one history and a cultural emphasis on education. The United States has students of all shapes and sizes, cultural heritages, religious beliefs and language requirements.

        They’re not the same.

          • I think the United States is, or is becoming, more like India has long been. Or, a better comparison of the U.S. might be to one of the large South American countries. Single parenthood does seem to be a kind of stealth prison for both parent and child, no matter the parent or country (with rare instances of “rising above” such as we have seen with J.K. Rowling).

      • “I can assure you that all other things being equal, a single-parent child is at a disadvantage…”
        Isaac – in what particular imaginary country are you envisioning this ‘all other things being equal’ situation?
        Certainly not the US – as I and Beth and Jack have pointed out, “so many chickens and eggs here that the omelet cannot be clarified” (Jack’s colorful version of it).
        The point of citing Denmark and Sweden (and 8 other countries by the way, basically Western Europe) is NOT to make approving statements about single-parenting as opposed to dual-parenting; it was to point out to people like you, who apparently believe that all else really is equal and that we live in a single variable world where judgments about family values can be tossed about as if nothing else mattered, that that’s a fantasy.

        All else in this world is hardly ever equal. And that goes in spades for comparisons among families. All the stats that Jack quoted are drenched in unequal other stats.

        Which means, in the real world, your “all else equal” statement renders everything that follows irrelevant.

        • Serious? “All else being equal” doesn’t mean that I think that all else IS equal for anyone. That’s kinda 5th-grade-level-obvious. It means that when studies control for other factors, single-parenthood emerges as something that contributes negatively to well-being. Which is, in fact, the case in social studies done here in the United States. Consistently. The only people still debate statements with this much data behind them are people who hate soft sciences because they’d rather have no science.

          Sheesh, it’s a good thing I didn’t say “in a vacuum” or you’d be all “Isaac, for your information, there ARE no Americans who live in vacuums!”

          • “Which is, in fact, the case in social studies done here in the United States.”
            I’d be curious to see one, do you have a citation?

  2. “I wonder why more people don’t choose single motherhood. Parenting alone allows me to make the best decisions for my son without needing to compromise for a partner’s differing personal beliefs, needs or career demands.”

    This is the key. What utter arrogance. She alone can determine what is best. No one else could possibly have a better understanding or better skills than she alone has. I hope her job doesn’t require working WITH other people. I pity her child.

    • It’s the same kind of stupid arguments made in articles about how “open marriages” are great. “It’s easier when you don’t expect one person to meet all of your needs.” “Monogamy is too hard for a lot of people.” “We’re so much happier without all of the expectations.”

      I’m going to use the same kind of logic to advocate for a 1-hour school week. “It’s much healthier not to have to meet the societal pressures of reading and writing competently.” “I am happier and healthier now that I get to decide what 2+2 is without the tyranny of traditional math weighing me down.”

    • “What utter arrogance. She alone can determine what is best. No one else could possibly have a better understanding or better skills than she alone has. I hope her job doesn’t require working WITH other people. I pity her child.”

      I agree; that kind of parenting attitude is sociopathic control-freaky off-putting. And it’s more than a little ignorant about the vast majority of parents and kids. I don’t know; I might be insulting the Left by lumping that lady with it-takes-a-village leftists.

      That mother might as well have been evangelizing for a new predominant model for American business (trying to make fitting substitutions in the lady’s statement)…

      “I wonder why more people don’t choose self-employment. Self-employment allows me to make the best decisions for my business without needing to compromise for an employee’s or corporation’s culture, needs or long-term plans.”

      But, we already know how against-the-odds successful long-term self-employment is, even for those most motivated for and capable of trying it. Certainly Jack knows. So much for one person who thinks she has full control of her own (plus one or more children’s) destinies being able to make the best decisions for all, all alone. I smell a motive for deliberate unaccountability in a single Mom with such a go-it-alone attitude.

  3. Two parent is way better, but sometimes a mother may not have a choice if a husband won’t stay. Blame should be more on the parent who won’t put up and disappeared at some point after the kid was conceived. Single mothers who try to do it, when abandoned, don’t need shaming too.

    Ms Chatel and fictional Brown haven’t shown interest in trying shared duties and responsibilities which is better when possible,

    • “The Washington Post essay will encourage women without her advantages and skills to dismiss the very legitimate warnings about starting a family without a committed father in the mix.”

      This presumes that “women without her advantages and skills” also read the Washington Post. I suspect the overlap of those two sets is pretty small.

      • There’s an interesting lefty defense of lefty media: “It’s okay, nobody reads it or listens to it or watches it. What difference does it make?” Perfect.

        • Other Bill, get clear. I was not defending the article. I was criticizing Jack’s causal statement that the article WOULD RESULT IN certain effects. He said it would, I said it wouldn’t.

      • There’s a trickle-down effect. It’s very likely that in some Jr. College right now, someone is hearing, “in fact, there was a very interesting article in the Washington Post recently…”

  4. “One parent can be better than two” ? Uh, yeah, sure, why not? And three parents CAN be better than two. And the Post CAN have been looking for anything to fill space that would rouse long-confirmed easily argued reader responses. The Post wins on points.

  5. Everyone wants to believe their way is the best way. That’s why Matt Walsh and Steven Crowder wrote essays in defense of early marriage, and, in Crowder’s case, turned to outright single-bashing. That’s why an essay was recently published on the “sexodus” and MGTOW (men going their own way) is gaining traction. That’s also why a soul-dead essay was published about a decade ago by a woman who found herself pregnant with triplets and decided to abort 2 of 3 because she didn’t want to shop for big jars of mayonnaise at Costco. That’s also why huge numbers of Ivy Leaguers get smug about their sheepskins, whether they got in on merit or not, and those who went elsewhere say “college is what you make of it.” The difference is now anyone can publicize their opinions, good or bad, easily.

    • That’s why Matt Walsh and Steven Crowder wrote essays in defense of early marriage, and, in Crowder’s case, turned to outright single-bashing.

      There is a good reason for early marriage.

      I heard that repeated broken relationships and casual sex can impair the ability to engage in pair bonding, due to something called oxytocin. Would not early marriage avoid this issue?

      Also, in ancient Israel people did get married at fourteen and younger. Compare 2 Chron. 36:5 with 2 Chron. 34:1.

      • Thankfully we’ve progressed since those old times. There is no reason now to marry before you are financially and emotionally ready to settle down and raise a family without relying on the state or others. What is more, Steven Crowder can take his statement that single people are living in squalor eating hot pockets and stuff it up his ass, and the same applies to anyone else who bashes single people as losers or not adults.

        • What about the whole oxytocin issue which indicates early marriages have stronger bonds? Should that not be considered a factor in deciding whether one is ready for marriage.

          • I put very little stock in a link like that which appears non-scientific. I think most early marriages have stronger bonds because the couple has no idea what else is out there and don’t want to disrupt what they already have going. Plus, if you have a kid early, you’re basically stuck, this is it for the next eighteen years. I count myself lucky to have dodged both. When I lay down tonight I may be lying down alone, but I’ll be lying down when I decide it’s time, and no one will roust me at 4 AM demanding pancakes and episodes of “Dinosaur Train.”

    • Statistically, the best range for marriage mid-twenties. But that’s probably not causal. It’s more likely that the kind of people who don’t suck at marriage tend to get married in that range.

  6. “Nevertheless, she should not have written the article, which is irresponsible and cannot avoid doing more harm than good.”

    I can say the same about your essay — which is incredibly irresponsible, more so coming from an ethicist. It’s no one’s place to preach on what family values are the best.

    Families do come in all shapes and sizes, and citing statistics without factoring in complexities such as age, income, race, education, and other family support is outrageous. The fact is that most single-parent households are poorer than two-parent households because .. well you can count. But most women who choose, especially at a later age, to have children tend to be at a higher income bracket. Thus, all these dire conclusions about one-parent households are rather meaningless. What you are referring to are people without income or other familial support. I think we can all agree that children born of rich parents with a support network are better off than children born of poor parents with no support network. Duh.

    I now need to go apologize to a good friend of mine. She is black, well-off, single, in her early 40’s and adopted her son (from terrible circumstances) two years ago. She is planning to move to DC because she lives in a neighborhood with mostly two-parent families and she does not feel her school (mostly white) is accepting of her situation. I spent an hour this week trying to explain to her that this can’t be the case, we’ve come so far, etc. Then I have to go and read something like this.

    • Because white people owe black people apologies for articles written by third parties the black person hasn’t even read. The Black Panthers called, Beth, they want their manifesto back.

      • If you have something substantive to say, I will read it. But the type of banter that you wrote above (while it doesn’t offend me) is both childish and foolish.

    • I find it hard to believe that you could read the post and misconstrue it that badly—confirmation bias, denial, knee-jerk ideology and defensiveness at their worse. Single parenthood is risky, and all research says so. Rich people with safety nets take on risky life choices and gull those who don’t have the same margin for error into furthering social pathologies. I never said or hinted that there were not successful single-parent families, nor derided any. You can’t have it both way, Beth. Either the prominent in our society say “get married before having kids, and be in a committed relationship with a trustworthy man/woman” or they say, by their conduct: go ahead, have kids by yourself. Which is the responsible message? You are emotionally and defensively following the Murphy Brown script, and its deadly, really sucking in the rubes, and ruining young live of parents and children both. Ethisv involves deciding what is wrong and right: It is wrong to encourage women to have kids without fathers.

      My father was raised by a single mother and a brilliantly resourceful one. She was the hero of his life—he always cited himself as proof that such an upbringing wasn’t a certain harbinger of doom, and I agree. But he also was a dedicated father who put his family first always, because he wanted to make sure that his kids didn’t have the fatherless upbringing he did….because he knew that this would give them the best chance at a good life. That’s the correct message. Yours is just “I am woman hear me roar” blather, and inexcusable blather at that.

        • I don’t, and didn’t, and object to the phrase anyway as void for vagueness. Talking about responsible conduct, period. Can we talk about having 12 kids when you can only afford one? Is not vaccinating your kids a family value? Serial abortions because you’re too lazy to use birth control? How about adultery? Using illegal drugs in front of the kids? That’s just a way to mark an important discussion as taboo to ensure that irresponsible people don’t have to think. And there was no “preaching” in my post… How about why don’t you default to “sanctimonious”…that’s always good. Statistically, and clearly, and obviously, using a modicum of common sense, a kid raised by one parent has a worse chance at getting through life happy, well-adjusted and successful than one raised by two. I stipulated that it was her choice—I’ll even stipulate that she may be such a controlling uber-bitch that single-parenting is her best option, because any marriage involving such a women would be dysfunctional and yes, a kid raised by one confident, wealthy, dedicated parent is likely to be better off that one raised in a war zone. But placing a self-centered article in the Post that says to the foolish, lonely confused DC teens who come from three generations of fatherless families and would love a little pet baby to get them attention and something to feel good about, thus condemning themselves to poverty and the child to cycle of risk, “Hey, don’t pay any attention to what people are telling you! I’m a single mother and its a blast!” is, by definition I-R-R-E-S-P-O-N-S-i-B-L-E.

          And saying it’s taboo to point that out is I-D-I-O-T-I-C.

          You need more than coffee.

          • “Statistically, and clearly, and obviously, using a modicum of common sense, a kid raised by one parent has a worse chance at getting through life happy, well-adjusted and successful than one raised by two.”

            No, no, and no. If you are single, and poor, and no community or family support, then raising a child alone is a bad idea. If you are wealthy and have support, then your child is going to be fine — assuming that you are an involved parent.

            This also lends support for the idea that each child must have a father AND a mother, as opposed to two parents of the same gender. Indeed, you seem to go back and forth sometimes using “father” and other times using “parent.”

            For the record, I believe that many parents (whether single or married) are awful and irresponsible. But writing essays about it — and using statistics without taking into account numerous factors that feed into those statistics — is just as irresponsible as the idiot who advocated her views in the Washington Post.

            “Can we talk about having 12 kids when you can only afford one?” No, we can’t. Obviously, I feel that way, which is why I chose to have two. When people ask me why I didn’t have more, and I respond with concerns about money and giving enough emotional support to multiple children, the response is always negative. “But they could get loans! And the older kids help with the younger kids! Are you judging me for having eight children?” This is why preaching family values doesn’t work — people have their own notions of what’s important.

            “Is not vaccinating your kids a family value?” For me it is, which is why my kids are in private school requiring 100% vaccinations. Go ahead and try changing an anti-vaxxer’s mind. You’d have a better shot getting them to change religions.

            “Serial abortions because you’re too lazy to use birth control?” I ran into a few of these women while doing pro bono work and I thought they were worthless scum. You know what’s interesting about them though? Despite their numerous abortions, they still manage to have numerous children — all being raised like dogs in the street. Who will grow up to be just like their mom and not only continue the cycle, but enlarge it.

            “How about adultery?” I would leave my husband if he cheated on me. Generally, just about everybody frowns on this, with the exception of the weird open marriage crowd — and my guess is that they would be bad parents with or without the cheating aspect.

            “Using illegal drugs in front of the kids?” I would change that to abusing “any” drug if you are a parent. In my circles, there is far more abuse of prescription drugs than illegal ones. There has been massive education about drug abuse in this country and while strides have been made (drunk driving comes to mind), it is still a huge problem.

            To sum up, if you wanted to talk about any of these other topics, I wouldn’t criticize you, although I might question the benefit of writing such an obvious piece.

            • “No, no, and no. If you are single, and poor, and no community or family support, then raising a child alone is a bad idea. If you are wealthy and have support, then your child is going to be fine — assuming that you are an involved parent.”

              But BETH, the author made no such distinctions, did she? She didn’t write about single parenting for the educated, wealthy and privileged, she wrote about single parenting. You did notice the Murphy Brown reference, right? I mean, there was a photo and everything. And nobody was saying that the fictional character, who could afford a full-time, round the clock au pere who was also a man, and had money to burn, couldn’t pull it off (though, amusingly and as is often the case on TV, once the funny/cute pregnancy was over, Murphy was almost never seen with her child), but that she would lead other women who didn’t have such advantages to think it was responsibility and reasonable conduct for them, and it wasn’t and isn’t.

              And if you can’t concede that even for Murphy and Katy, their chances of having a well-adjusted, healthy and happy child would be better with a fully participating father than without one, you have been addled by feminist propaganda. A kid needs two parents a lot more than a fish needs a bicycle.

              • No where in my writing did I defend the author — I’ve been writing about YOUR take on this. I conceded that her piece was irresponsible because I don’t believe in anyone becoming a mouthpiece for family values.

                As for fully participating fathers, that’s the subject of a whole other essay. In most relationships, that’s wishful thinking at best. And that’s not feminist propaganda, there’s a wealth of evidence to support that fact.

  7. Steve-O. That’s a purely ad hominem, unrelated, irrelevant comment. Boring too. Add some value or don’t add anything at all. Beth’s was an intelligent, substantive comment, and deserves at least that kind of response.

    • Bite me, Charles. Her comment was a stupid and unfounded attack on Jack and that last paragraph was pure idiocy. I stand by what I said.

      • Steve – You didn’t say anything substantive to begin with, just insults. Standing by them and adding more insults just compounds it.

        If the only operative words you have are “bite me,” “stupid,” “unfounded,” and “Idiocy,” you’re wasting everyone’s time.

        And Beth’s last paragraph, should you choose to actually read it, gave very specific reasons why “all else is not equal” in this argument, and why simplistic moralizations about parental values are bound to cause friction when applied to differing circumstances.

        • I did read it. It is worthless and I treated it as such. I make no bones about hating Beth, and it’s a bad trap she stepped in here.

          • By-the-bye, don’t bother attempting to chastise me for my comment to you, as I will neither read it nor respond to it.

          • You hate me? You don’t even know me. What have I said that is worthy of such hatred? That I lean to the left? That I’m not religious? That I believe in equal rights for gays?

            I don’t hate religious conservatives — and count many of them among my friends and family.

            • I’ve read enough of your tripe to know all I need or want to know. People who lean to the left I can tolerate, not big-mouths on the left. Those who don’t believe I can tolerate, those who are anti-theistic, nope, that’s no different than having a problem with someone’s color, and you border on the haters in the lawyers’ club out of Wisconsin who should properly be labeled the Hatred Of Religion Foundation. Equal rights, sure, special rights and the use as a lever for the suppression of the freedom of those who see it differently, no way.

              Let’s throw in your boasting about being a 1%er and trumpeting yourself for self-advertised awesomeness. The latter crap went out with college, and you know what the former makes you? Arrogant, that’s what.

              It’s sooo big of you to say there are religious conservatives among your family and friends, but I don’t see how that’s any different than someone from the right saying “some of my best friends are (fill in the race, religion, or whatever),” which you and I both know you wouldn’t buy. I don’t buy it either.

              So let’s review. You are a loudmouthed, hateful, intolerant, deceitful, self-satisfied, arrogant ass. So yes, I DO hate you, I utterly reject you. and I think I have good reason to do so.

              And it’s childish of me to call out that stupid statement of yours the way I did, but perfectly ok for the current idiot in chief to say much the same thing to his challenger when he pointed out that Russia might become an issue (which it did)? That’s more of the same warped reasoning we see on the left.

              So, where do we go from here? Cluster f-bomb campaign? Been there, done that, it means nothing. You tell me you won’t respond, and flounce off like you’ve won? Yeah, you keep telling yourself that. Threats? Right, there’s miles and miles between us.

              • So much of what you wrote about me is not true, but I don’t want to make this all about me and go point by point except to clarify one thing — if I recall, I’ve never “boasted” about money, but rather have talked about how luck has played a big influence in my life — not just education. And, when I do talk about money, it is usually in the context of how people similarly situated to me are still having problems trying to figure out how to pay for everything along with balancing retirement and education concerns for our kids.

        • Congratulations, Charles! I was unaware that Jack had given you the blog. I was also unaware that Beth requires you to defend her. Especially when I have heard her on NUMEROUS occasions defend herself much more effectively than you. Her opinion, I respect, if not agree with. Yours, not so much.

          • I read Charles’ comments as more supporting what I wrote (which is similar, albeit shorter) to what he wrote above. But thank you for your respect Dragin even if you don’t agree with me. You’re light years ahead of Steve.

  8. I’ve been gone all day (hence late posts), but gee wilickers these are jaw-dropping defenses of an indefensibly lame-brained article. She is asserting that single parenthood is BETTER than a two parent family. Are you really arguing that this makes any damn sense at all? because it doesn’t. of COURSE that data shows that as a group, kids raised in a two parent family are healthier, happier, and more likely to succeed in life. the author proves it herself: she sounds like a control freak narcissist, and there is no one to temper her excesses. What happens when she gets sick, or starts drinking, or goes crazy? Who will be there to back her up? With Tow parents, there is a 100% greater chance than one of them will be a good one—you really think it isn’t in the kids’ interest to play those odds? Single parents are more stressed than two parents, have less time (half as much, in fact) as two to pay attention to the child or children, bring twice as much collected wisdom and life experience, have more resources—the next argument, I suppose, is that clones are better than mixing genes and getting a new individual. Sounds like Katy might like that, since she thinks she s the only competent parent alive, though I’m betting her kid is spending a lot of “quality time” with an illegal nanny.

    Yes, indeed, one parent is better than two if the father is a serial killer, a child molester, a werewolf, Charley Sheen or in an iron lung. Ya got me!

    So, thanks to Katy telling young girls that all the propaganda is false and that you SHOULD get that cute baby bump from your out of work BF who thinks of you as #5 because being a single mother is grrrrREAT–that smart lady in the Post said so!—we’ll have more at risk kids. Ah, but ONE of them at least turned out well, so that must mean that there is no risk, right, Beth?

    Good Lord. The stupid things ideological stubbornness makes smart people say.

    • Another juicy one I missed out on. Maybe I’ll read all the comments. But I stopped after Charles asserted that single parent households in Europe seem to do fine because of large social safety nets. I knew he didn’t realize that what that really boils down to is “more adults in a child’s life”. Which generally undoes the assertion that “single parent” households can be just as healthy as “two parent” or “extended family” households…

      I don’t think the defenders of the indefensible really thought this one through.

      • But of course, I stopped reading most of the comments that insisted comparisons to those soon-to-be-non-existent-as-we-know-them countries of Western Europe are valid….

        dummies.

  9. I agree with this article.

    I could write a book on what a fertility clinic did to me, taking advantage of my age and my desire to have a child. I won’t go into too many details as it is too long to go into, but I’ll just say that these fertility clinics who inseminate single women have no caring of what is right for the child, or even the mother. All they want is you to pay them, however you can do it.

    I’m a low income single woman who wanted her fertility tested to know her future options. I wanted to do egg freezing in the possibility that I might meet the right man and get married. But they encouraged me to do IUI, they denied me financial aid for the egg freezing, told me alarming things like “if you don’t do something right now, you’ll never have a child”, pushed me to order sperm to be sent there, I didn’t have time to be choosy about it, they knew I had concerns about being a single mom and about my own physical health that might compromise a baby’s, and yet they pushed me so hard that I did an IUI this month, and am now regretting this and hoping and praying to God that it didn’t work. I had fears and reservations and they would dismiss them and encourage this procedure. They never inquired about how I intended to support this child or what that child’s home life would be like. They knew I was low income because of my health insurance, but as long as I could manage to get some money to pay for my visits there, they continued to treat me.

    They sent me to a social worker because it’s a law that they have to. The woman actually said it was a good thing that I wanted to have a baby even though I’m currently unemployed and living with my father and sister. She easily gave me the go-ahead.

    When you think about this, why wouldn’t she? If the clinic sends clients to her and she denies them, that that means the clinic won’t get money, which means they would drop her, which means she’d lose money. You see where this is all about making money and taking advantage of people?

    A responsible clinic would have required proof of income. They also would have told a woman that they could clearly see had reservations about single motherhood, that they would not treat her at this time. They would have talked to me about the egg freezing option instead of just telling me I couldn’t afford it so don’t do it. If they don’t offer financial aid to the single women who hope in the future to have a husband and/or good employment/education, then I don’t know why they’d offer it to people who don’t really need it.

    I want to warn people about these places because I feel what they have done to me is a travesty, and I actually feel like I was violated. My anxiety has been sky-high. I feel like they just ruined mine and my possible child’s life. I have to look into abortion and adoption now.

    They are just manufacturing babies and playing God, with no regard for the child or the single woman.

    • Excellent post, Amanda, and thank you for sharing. I work in a professional field, though not medicine, but the trust and invisible deferral the public gives us is still a staggering and great responsibility.

      This clinic violated that trust and responsibility, and I can only offer a meager third-party apology. Whenever such violations occur, there is a collective fault, and a collective duty to help heal the damage, and a renewed collective duty to build a more robust, ethical culture that does not tolerate such behavior.

      I feel like they just ruined mine and my possible child’s life. I have to look into abortion and adoption now.

      Please, please remember that no matter how much your child might hate you for being poor and unable to provide for it, it will still love you infinitely more if you allow it to be born!

      There is help, should you find yourself pregnant and afraid. I cannot promise it will be easy, nor that everything will work out, but there are resources that can offer for free or low cost pregnancy care and counseling, and support making decisions about your child’s and your futures in this trying time.

      I encourage you to do your own research, but if you are stuck, this website (http://optionline.org/) provides referrals to organizations I have had contact with and trust, and has referrals nationwide.

      Best Wishes
      “Rich”

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