Excerpts from "Choosing Single Motherhood"

by Mikki Morrissette

From Chapter 5: Revisiting the "Murphy Brown" Debate
I have no doubt that stable, loving two-parent homes - where both mother and father have a healthy emotional investment in their children - offers tremendous benefits. And I have no doubt that an unstable, unhealthy single-parent home does not offer children the emotional security they need to grow up strong. But not every two-parent home is "good," and not every single-parent home is "bad." Discouraging one common family structure because some don't do it as well as others is akin to not allowing people in their 20s to marry because statistics show these are the couples most likely to divorce.

From Chapter 7: Growing Up Without a Father
There are a few things a Choice Mom cannot provide for her child no matter how great she is as a parent. The most important of these is the absence of a second person who is actively involved and emotionally present for the child. Many children in two-parent homes do not have the kind of interaction with one or both parents that we're talking about here. Yet in a different world, a loving, interactive father would be a second person the child could have a meaningful, intense relationship with.

From Chapter 12: Answering the Daddy Question
As Ellen told me, after kids in her son's preschool asked about his dad, he replied that he didn't have one. They told him that was impossible. He asked Mom, and she told him about the role of his birth father and the doctor in helping her to conceive. The next day his preschool teacher reported that he excitedly told everyone, "I do have a dad! My mom just doesn't know who he is or where he lives!"

From Chapter 14: How to Raise a Well-Balanced Child
Even in private, under guarantee of confidentiality, one teenage boy had terrific things to say about the way his Choice Mother raised him. "I have a great, involved mom," he told me. "From handling almost every aspect of my education to instilling in me a sense of right and wrong, she's done it all. And to be perfectly honest, I feel that she has done most everything right. She gives me all the freedom a teen needs without ever having to worry about me trying pot or a cigarette or anything like that."

From Chapter 15: Of Politics and Policy
The new reproductive technologies and loosened adoption criteria have made it much more possible than it used to be for single women to become mothers, gay couples to become parents, and infertile couples to raise children using sperm and/or egg donors. Some who set up policy throw up their own red flag, believing that a single mother (or homosexual parent) is not "fit" to have a child, and thus should not be aided in the effort to do so. In Florida, for example, gays and lesbians are forbidden to adopt, even through the foster care system.

From Chapter 16: How Are the Kids Turning Out?
Laurabeth: "One great thing about living with a single parent is that it teaches you a lot about compromise. My mother and I have really intense arguments. When there's no other parent to run to, no third opinion on anything, it can be frustrating. What I especially learned from my mom was to do what you feel really strongly about, and have integrity in doing it."

From Conclusion: Connecting the Dots
The simple moments when we connect with other human beings in a warm, relaxed, open-hearted way are fleeting, but the memories of being part of a larger universe are what sustain us--and help lift us out of low points when we are detached, isolated, lonely. That is why anyone embarking on Choice Motherhood must be capable of building community consciously, serendipitously, and everything in between. She must actively seek out role models and rituals that will help her and her child connect to the larger world.

Hippy-dippy as this might sound, the most essential tool of any successful parent is a strong, extended support network made up of men and women, young and old, single and married--family, friends, teachers, spiritual guides, people down the street. In short, developing a village for a child is how you become a responsible parent, and no one should build a family without it.

Choosing Single Motherhood - www.choosingsinglemotherhood.com

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