Recently on twitter I engaged in a couple of discussions in which two people called me a “single mother” as an insult. I know that women with children who are not married are often shamed for being a *gasp* a “single mother!” I always thought this was silly and a holdover from earlier decades when there were fewer single mothers. Apparently though, people still believe that being a single mother is a “bad” thing.
This got me to thinking about how “single mother” is often hurled as an insult which is crazy because calling a man a “single father” isn’t an insult. In fact, single fathers are often praised. People are always so supportive and happy when they see a man taking care of his children on his own. Why is it that women are shamed for being single parents but men aren’t? Why aren’t women given the same words of praise and support when people find out they are single mothers? Of course I already know it’s because of sexism. Still, why do people act like being a single parent is something to be ashamed of?
The truth is, being from a two parent home is no guarantee of success in adulthood. Just like being from a single parent home doesn’t mean you are doomed. In fact many people grew up in single parent homes and are quite successful. President Barack Obama is a product of a single mother home. Many people will continue to grow up in single parent homes. In fact, single parent homes are quite common. On top of that, just because a child is raised in a single parent home, that does not mean that the child does not have contact with both parents. I don’t know where this assumption came from that if a child lives with their mother that somehow means their father is not involved.
People become single parents for many reasons. Sometimes there is a death, sometimes the parents get divorced, sometimes the parents were never in a serious relationship, you just don’t know. Just because one is a single parent that doesn’t mean they are the only parent. Co-parenting is much more the norm for single parents these days. I would dare say that co-parenting homes could be more functional for children than some two parent homes because the focus is on the children and not on a dysfunctional relationship. The children of co-parenting homes spend time with both parents regularly, and in some cases equally. The point is a single parent home is not indicative of something being wrong. It’s just one of the many types of familes that exist.
Even beyond the “single mother” shaming, it would seem that if a single mother does decide to remarry, she is wrong for that too. Just look at the reaction to Ciara marrying Russell Wilson. People first talked bad about Ciara being a single mother. Now they talk bad about her having a new family. Basically, it doesn’t matter what women do, women will always have to carry some burden of sexism. The truth is people who judge women for being single mothers do so not out of concern for the children, but to look down on women. I know that when someone hurls “you must be a single mother” at me they do so because they feel elevated by the statement. It’s a way to bring women down, to put women in “their place.” Well it’s time for that to change. It changes by people being aware that women are being judged and treated unfairly. It changes by people understanding that there is nothing wrong with being a single mother.