June 8, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I suppose I should’ve known. I should have been able to predict that, shortly after the publication of a well-done study of the data on single parenthood and child poverty, something like this would soil the pages of some daily news rag (Mirror, 6/6/16).
Recall the New Zealand study by Lindsay Mitchell. It used various data sets to paint yet another dark picture of single parenthood - particularly single motherhood, since the overwhelming majority of single parents are mothers – as it relates to children and poverty. Put simply, the single most significant factor contributing to child poverty is being cared for by a single mother. Here in the U.S. a whopping 33% of single mothers live in poverty. On average, single moms earn an abysmal $23,000 per year. And of course the problems visited on children of single parents, especially poor ones, have been chronicled all too extensively.
Given all that, it’s truly a disgrace that anyone should present single motherhood in the light the linked-to article does. If we cared a whit about children, we’d bend our every effort toward bringing down the rates of single parenthood. Doing so would not only help children, it’d help mothers, fathers, society generally and state and national treasuries as well. The Mirror article is little but an exercise in selfishness on the part of the writer. When she’s not setting up straw men to knock down, Constance Hall is just factually wrong.
Her piece is that tiredest of all articles, a numerical list of “myths” the writer “debunks.” Except of course she does nothing of the kind. Here are a few of Hall’s seven “myths” about single motherhood and her grade school attempt to address them.
1. They don't want a new dad for their kids.
Hall’s “debunking of that “myth?”
The kids have a dad and in the instances where they don't, mums sort that job too.
Ah, she certainly took care of that one, didn’t she? Yes, it’s just that simple. Call something a “myth” and then make a completely unsupported assertion to contradict it and walk away dusting off one’s hands as if after a job well done.
Except of course Hall is just wrong. As the New Zealand data demonstrate, single parents re-marry or gain a new partner within five years of breaking up with the previous one. Often it’s quicker than that. So, far from being the happy campers Hall depicts them to be, single mothers in fact seek and find relationships with men fairly soon after becoming single.
That can be all to the good. Having a man around does a lot for families including added income and added parenting. Of course, for the most part, a man who’s not the father tends to be far less invested in the kids than their actual dad. So Mom’s remarriage is usually a step down as far as the children go.
Interestingly enough, later in her piece, Hall mentioned, “During my short stint of single motherhood a couple of years ago…” Hmm. I wonder why her stint as a single mom was so short. Could it be that she found a partner with whom to share the load of childcare and bill-paying? Could it be that she’s not the best example of her first claim?
2. Their kids aren't disadvantaged.
This is the truly despicable claim. Yes, Ms. Hall, the children of single parents are disadvantaged. Except in unusual circumstances, children without both parents are profoundly disadvantaged. How much information on this subject has to accumulate before the Confederacy of Dunces promoting single parenthood takes notice? Kids suffer in every way when they don’t have one of their parents, however that comes about. And male children of single mothers suffer the most. As but one example, that single fact goes a long way toward explaining the precipitous drop in boys’ performance in school, or didn’t Hall notice the remarkable congruence between that phenomenon and the rise of single motherhood?
Hall’s “effort” to debunk what decades of social science demonstrate?
The only disadvantage children of single parents face is the knowledge that their mum is being judged. Kids are clever, they pick up on that stuff.
Yep, that’s it. According to Hall, her single sentence trumps everything we’ve established about children raised by single parents. If we only look at child poverty, as the New Zealand study does, the results of single motherhood are damning. But Hall wants readers to believe that living in poverty is just another lifestyle choice. She should try it some time. Maybe the experience would open her tightly shut eyes, but I doubt it.
Oh, speaking of poverty, Hall has an answer for that one too.
3. They aren't always broke.
Of course no one ever said that single mothers are “always broke,” so in one sense, that’s just another of Hall’s straw men. But to the extent she means it to debunk the “myth” that single mothers are far more likely than any other adult in society to be poor, she fails. Of course she fails.
Single mums often work, often make a load of cash, some drink Grey Goose and wear Chanel, others drink 'goon' and don't wear much, it's called 'variety'.
Yes, working to support your children or not is just “variety,” and again, pretty much any choice Mom makes is like another. On the other hand, we can look at what responsible scholarship has to say on the subject. This is from the Executive Summary to the New Zealand Study:
Single parent families make up 28 percent of all families with dependent children. These families are the poorest in New Zealand.
51% of children in poverty live in single parent families.
Single parents have the lowest home ownership rates and the highest debt ratios.
Children in sole parent families are often exposed to persistent poverty and constrained upward mobility.
Some people would be sobered by those facts. Some would conclude that single parenthood should be avoided if at all possible. Few would conclude from those dire facts that single parenthood is something to be laughed off with a casual “it’s called variety.” Not Hall. She’s not interested in facts. She’s interested in defending her own choice to be a single mother, for however short a time and of course her own mother’s. We’re not surprised to learn that Hall was raised by a single mother. Indeed, I’d venture to guess that that fact alone explains her take on husbands and fathers.
Her final “myth” holds that married women live in fear of single mothers “taking” their husbands from them. That’s one I’ve never heard and indeed, there’s a fair amount of sentiment among men that the last partner they’d want is a single mother. Whatever the case, here’s what Hall has to say:
[Single mothers] didn't spend all this time getting rid of [their husbands] and supporting their kids and working their arses off to have to wake up next to your farting, snoring, horny delight. He is all yours.
Nice. That, according to Hall is what husbands and fathers are. Not, mind you, providers of most of the family’s money, not loving protectors and teachers of children, not needed parents. No, indeed. They’re worthless, dead weights around the necks of brave single Moms.
Does Hall realize that her last words annihilate her brief, pitiful as it is, for single motherhood? She was raised by a single mother and – guess what! – she despises the very idea of husbands and fathers. Is that supposed to speak well for her, product of a single-mother home that she is? The fact is that the only people who wouldn’t turn away from her description in disgust are those who already think like she does – that husbands and fathers are pointless wastes. Where’d she get that idea? Most of us know very well.
The Mirror is little but fish wrap, but even it should do better than to offer a forum to such an ignorant, hateful person. Hall’s goal is to promote one of the most destructive social phenomena of our time. Let her do it on Reddit.
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