Single Mothers: We’ve Got To Stop Calling Good “Bad” To Make People Feel Better


All of us know single mothers and in fact, some of the best moms I personally know are, in my humble opinion, single moms. There’s not enough good things to say about some of the women I know who work extra hours, take extra time, go above to beyond, work, fret, and sweat to make sure their child has every advantage. Additionally, the kids of most single moms turn out all right. They’re not criminals, thugs, delinquents, kooks and failures.

That being said; anyone who tries to portray being raised by a single mother as being better for a child than being raised by two parents is doing a disservice to society. Yet, Slate is doing just that.

A few months ago, social scientist W. Bradford Wilcox insisted in Slate that it’s worse to be raised by a single mother even if you’re not poor. Children of single mothers, he argued, are more likely to end up as pregnant teens, or in jail, or otherwise in trouble. For centuries Wilcox’s has been the common view. But in an age when single motherhood is becoming more common, these mothers (and social science research) are starting to challenge that view. In fact, some believe that in an era when children are coddled and dependent for way too long, being a child of a single parent has distinct advantages.

Readers, we invite you to submit your testimonies on why being raised by a single mother, or being a single mother, has its benefits and might even be better than having both parents around. Send your essays to [email protected] and write “single mother” in the subject line. (Please check out our submission guidelines.) We will choose the best ones and run them on the blog. We’d love to hear from single dads and boys raised by single mothers, too.

That’s not even arguably right. We know that because there are extensive statistics that show children born to single mothers are worse off in just about every way that matters compared to children raised by married couples.

“Here is the lottery ticket that single mothers are handing their innocent children by choosing to raise them without fathers: Controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent. By 1996, 70 percent of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised by single mothers. Seventy-two percent of juvenile murderers and 60 percent of rapists come from single-mother homes. Seventy percent of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents, and child murderers involve children raised by single mothers. Girls raised without fathers are more sexually promiscuous and more likely to end up divorced. A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference between black and white crime rates disappeared.

Various studies have come up with slightly different numbers, but all the figures are grim. According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children from single-parent families account for 63 percent of all youth suicides, 70 percent of all teenage pregnancies, 71 percent of all adolescent chemical/substance abuse, 80 percent of all prison inmates, and 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children.

A study cited in the Village Voice produced similar numbers. It found that children brought up in single-mother homes ‘are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and 32 times more likely to run away from home.’ Single motherhood is like a farm team for future criminals and social outcasts.

….Many of these studies, for example, are from the 1990s, when the percentage of teenagers raised by single parents was lower than it is today. In 1990, 28 percent of children under eighteen were being raised in one-parent homes (mother or father), and 71 percent were being raised in two-parent homes. By 2005, more than one-third of all babies born in the United States were illegitimate. That’s a lot of social problems coming.

…Imagine an America with 70 percent fewer juvenile delinquents, 70 percent fewer teenage births, 63 to 70 percent fewer teenage suicides, and 70 percent to 90 percent fewer runaways and you will appreciate what the sainted single mothers have accomplished.”

In other words, a child who’d be fine if he were raised by a mother and father is considerably more likely to end up pregnant, on drugs, homeless, in jail or killing himself if he’s raised by just a mother (or for that matter, a father). That’s not because single parents are bad people, it’s because they’re doing a two person job by their lonesome. When you try to make single mothers better by lying to them, it also has the disadvantage of falsely convincing others that they can raise their kids just as well by themselves as they could with a partner and that’s just not true.

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