Making Single Parenthood Work

Who said anything about solving the problems of those who have already messed up? even sven wants to set up policies that will have the effect of encouraging this kind of thing. Which is a bad idea.

I don’t remember saying this.

Neither do you. Please stop making things up.


I’m confident Shodan’s views on abortion, sex education, and easy access to contraceptives reflects his view of the dire consequences of single parent households.

Maybe I’m ignorant of the details of this topic, but I never see the nature of single motherhood discussed. That is to say, what do these women want? Do they want to just have babies and they don’t care if there’s a man or not? Or is it more of an “oops” situation? Or men deserting? Casual sex? How much of it is the “I have no love in my life but this baby will love me” phenomenon? It seems if you want to solve this so called problem that’d be the starting point since every different motivation has a different fix.

Are there any studies of this in non-Western societies? What about countries where women can or have to work, but there’s still a lot of religious and moralizing about marriage and casual sex? Does such a place even exist?

I can understand why middle class and above women wouldn’t care about single parenthood. They’re independent and can afford it. Both my older, middle aged cousins seem to personify this trend. They’re well off, they never married, and they have several kids. At most they have a live in boyfriend for awhile, but then they move on to another fairly casual relationship. These types of women don’t seem to unusual around my neighborhood either.

But why would there be a higher proportion of poor single parents nowadays than in the past? The only thing I can think of is welfare, but living off welfare with a kid isn’t exactly attractive so I don’t get that either. Is it the decreased moralizing and religiosity? I can’t relate to that either, but then again I’m not a woman. My view is that if a woman wants to have the neighborhood run a train on her that’s awesome and this society is where we want to go, but be on protection and use the tools society makes available for you.

We need regulated, 21st century American-style kibbutzim geared primarily for urban and suburban living.

I said people like you say it. Do you dispute that this is a conservative criticism of pure Communism? Notice I also said it was an accurate criticism. Do you think that pure Communism involves an accurate reading of human nature? I doubt it, and I agree.
So, unless you want to start a thread defending Communism, how about responding to the actual point, which is that saying the way to solve the single parent problem is for single women to stop having kids is kind of naive and Utopian, and hasn’t worked despite thousands of years of trying in much more regressive societies than ours.

It doesn’t have to be such a deal breaker, but I don’t really see any way that it’s not going impact career advancement, or even just plain holding a job. A lot of parents get fired or passed over for advancement because of reliability issues–they call in because the kid(s) woke up sick, or they have to leave mid-day because the kid horked all over the school/daycare or got in trouble and has to be picked up and taken home. It’s less of an issue if you happen to have the sort of office job that doesn’t require face-to-face or even real-time interaction with clients or coworkers, but it’s a back-breaker if you’re in retail, food-service, health care or any other kind of shift work.

Do you have a cite that the proportion is actually higher today? In the old days middle class single mothers would give the children away, because the stigma of single motherhood was quite high. It is hard to imagine that with today’s lack of a stigma, the proportion would be lower.
I wonder what the percentage of accidental versus deliberate single parent pregnancies is? I could see women having babies out of loneliness, or to have someone to support her when she gets old. That’s why poor people, even married ones, have high birth rates.

That’s a great idea. I wonder why no one does this. You should apply for a grant from someplace.

Both day care coops and communal living arrangements HAVE been successful - but they are mostly successful when they are self directed, grassroots and local. When they become integrated into the community and are community driven.

You can’t take a bunch of single mothers, put them and their kids into a communal group home, expect everyone to share the work, and expect a happy outcome. Hell, my husband and I can’t always agree on how to raise our kids, I can’t imagine the contention having multiple adults raise kids in a cooperative - unless that cooperative was self forming and self organizing. Then they MIGHT have a chance of sharing enough values to cooperatively raise kids.

Americans really don’t have the types of shared values communities (outside of communities like Orthodox Jews or the Amish or immigrant communities) that are really conducive towards coops.

Shodan, there are already HUGE disincentives to single parenthood. Single parents who go into it willingly know that their lives will be harder and poorer than they would be in two-parent families. They know that it’s not as good for the children. But despite these massive, enormous, problems and the direct and unstoppable effect on quality of life, people are doing it anyway. The draw of having children is that strong.

But when people don’t have to stick together, they don’t. Divorce accounts for the majority of single-parent households. I imagine another chunk of single parents are people who genuinely thought they were starting a family, only to find themselves alone. The number of women who knowingly go in single-handed are probably a relatively small part of the issue, and many of those who make that choice are financially and socially ready for it.

What can we do? I suspect something like 80% of women would like to raise children and are willing to make that their top priority during those years. The number of men who are willing to do that are probably more like 50%. We can’t tell 20% of women that they are in the unlucky demographic that doesn’t get to have children, better luck next life. They won’t listen. They won’t accept that.

We get told we shouldn’t focus so much on our careers, but how do we know if our husband is going to leave? If he is going to start beating us? If he is going to sexually abuse our children? We have to be prepared to take care of our kids if that happens. Too many of us have unfortunately learned from our own mothers and grandmothers what happens when you are dependent on someone who doesn’t have your best interests in mind.

IME the moralizing over single mother hood is pretty much always about the woman’s sexual habits, and usually comes from men. Funny how that works.

I meant to say that there are a higher proportion of poor people who are single mothers now, not that poor people are a higher number of all single mothers. Of course, I don’t know if that’s true or not either actually, so ignore that. :o I claim nothing!

I don’t think it’s really that simple. Single parents make more demands on their support system (be that their family and friends or wider support systems). Single parenthood is, by far, hardest for the single parent, but it’s also harder for everyone else, as well. Everyone will put away their pride and ask for help when their child’s welfare is at stake. This can happen with two parents, of course, but single parents will generally reach that point more quickly than couples just because there is one less level of redundancy.

There are plenty of grandmothers out there who were basically involuntarily signed up for a second round of parenthood because their own children are single parents. There are plenty of coworkers who chip in to cover for single parents who have no flexibility regarding hours and often have to have emergency absences.

Single parenthood is a thousand times harder on the single parent than on anyone else. But that doesn’t mean the impact on others is negligible and that there aren’t reasonable grounds to dislike it. I mean, if through tragedy I ended up a single parent and then lost my job and needed to move home, my parents would take me with open arms, but they wouldn’t like it. If I deliberately chose single parenthood, then through some accident had to move home, my parents would still accept me with open arms because they love me and would love my child/children. But they’d resent the hell out of the fact that I cornered them that way. And I don’t think that’s because they give a good god damn about my sexual habits.

A friend of mine chose single parenthood. She adopted. She was nearing 40, hadn’t met Mr. Right, had a great job that even if she quit it she’d be pretty well off (she owned a successful business that could be sold for a few million dollars - still does). She had family nearby and a very tight circle of friends with children the same age. She is, in many ways, the ideal single mother - with a flexible job, financial security, a well structured support system. She’s mature - a grown up.

And its been hard. Really hard. Hardest when she or her daughter is ill, but just hard. If I want to see friends - without children in tow, my husband can take them - she has to arrange for someone to watch her daughter. There is little independence, little separation.

Now, daycare was never “not affordable” for her. No need to subsidize it. She had as much flexibility as a person could want on the job - owned her own business with a good management team helping. And its was still damn hard.

even sven, I find your way of thinking about the world kind of maddening. Here we all are, doing our thing, expressing our preferences, choosing among alternatives, making agreements with other people, etc. etc., And then here you come along, wanting us all to do something different because you think it would make society better.

Well, if your ideas would help, then people would implement them. For example, if a particular employer has a particular employee that is a single parent and the employer wants to keep that employee, the employer will do what it takes to keep that employee. And the same thing works for other types of relationships.

Why do you like to sit around thinking about ways to change our preferences and choices and agreements all in an effort to make society more to your liking? We’re happy out here. Just leave us alone.

Bolding mine…

As a former single parent, I say that it’s always far and away hardest on the kids.

Goodness, it’s not like I’m rounding people up and forcing them into single-parent homes or advocating massive government action. Speculating about how to improve society is not a bad thing- that’s how we got stuff like public schools, non-violent protest and democratic governments. If we all just sat around figuring that if it could get better than it’d already be better, we’d probably still be living in the trees.

Creative free-market solutions may be a big part of the answer. Now and then someone comes up with an idea, like micro-credit, that fills a previously unmet need and improves millions of lives in a tangible way. Sometimes a good idea finds that it’s time has come, and it catches on without anyone forcing anyone to change anything. I’m not necessarily advocating for large-scale social engineering (although it’s a laugh that you’d say our current society isn’t being socially engineered- it’s engineered on every level and you know it.l)

I bet there are a lot of companies that would like to offer better work/family balance as one of their perks, but aren’t quite sure how to procede. Perhaps some good though on the subject could help develop effective and replicable programs. Maybe some people here already have the idea of family-oriented cooperative housing, but never really knew how to make that a reality. Maybe someone is going to come up with some creative and innovative solution that we won’t even see coming.

So go ahead and think whatever you damn well want to. Maybe you could enlighten us about your opinions on the subject rather than just threadshitting.

Well, in regard to work-provided daycare, I can see where it would be completely bad for small business owners. I work (from home, mostly, at this point, but full time in office for years) in a small law firm. We have 6 people with kids of various ages. There are 9 people in the entire firm. Is the boss supposed to provide daycare for us?

Ultimately, we would still need to pay for the daycare, since less money would be available for paychecks, and we have no room for a daycare room. Should he have to move into a different building?

I can see that having a major chilling effect on jobs available to single parents.

Even Sven has already explained how you’ve completely (and inexplicably) misunderstood him. I wish to add that I think it’s funny that as you typed the above you didn’t realize that capitalist society works by allowing powerful collective entities to change our preferences, choices and agreements all the time. It’s called advertising.

You seem to think it’s okay for a huge collective to engage in this activity, but not for individuals like Even Sven.

I think toughening up divorce laws and perhaps requring marriage counseling before divorce (except in obvious cases such as abuse, abandonment, and adultery) should be done along with increased religious moral efforts by orthodox Christian denominations.

OK, fine. I apologize if I jumped to conclusions. But I’m sure you are aware of the bent of many on this board–if they can think of some government program that they think would make society better, they automatically think the government should implement their idea. I may have read that attitude into your posts when it wasn’t really there.

The other thing that stuck in my craw about your posts in this thread is when you discussed how expensive daycare is and made the age-old error of thinking that the cost to provide a service should have something to do with the amount charged for the service.

But, whatever. If you want to discuss ideas for doing things differently in the hopes that someone somewhere freely decides to implement one of the ideas, then fine.

There are many other models.