Single Parent Households Are Still a Family

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Single parent

People at church mean well. Lord knows they do. But sometimes they say things that, if you were out on the streets and away from all the Bibles, would get them a tongue lashing that included some words that would make the pastor cringe.  

Por ejemplo: at the let-out of a women’s event a few weeks ago, I was making chit chat in the lobby, minding my own business, when random conversation with an older saint turned to my singleness and my unspoken desire to be married. Unspoken to her, anyway. Still, she tilted her crazy little head to the side and stroked my arm sympathetically.

“I know you want a family,” she ventured, pity written all over her face. Hmmm, I thought. I could've sworn I already had one. Just because there's no hubby or daddy in front of the TV when we get home or cooking vittles in the kitchen on Saturday morning doesn't mean The Girl and I aren’t already a family. Just the two of us.

I look at a man like this: if one comes along who can join this program already in progress, that’s beautiful. We’ll welcome the addition. But I haven’t built our life based on the hope that The Amazing Dream Fulfiller will sweep me — and my child — off our feet. I by myself am enough. She by herself is enough. And together, we make a heck of a dynamic duo, single parent household and all.

In fact, she told me a few months ago that she likes it being just me and her and wouldn’t want me to get married. OK, I wouldn’t go that far.

I am, however, glad that she’s gotten one lesson I’ve been trying to instill in her down pat. A man shouldn’t have the power to make you or break you. And heck, sometimes having a man around the house is just that — having a dude around the house. If he’s not contributing and making things better, that sucka is just dead weight.

It’s not the kind of relationship I would ever willfully sign up for, but I’ve seen plenty of women have buyers’ remorse after praying and pleading and hoping and searching for a man. Then they get one and realize they could’ve done bad by themselves. A big no thank ya to having that kind of baggage soaking up my air conditioning and propping its funky Sasquatch feet up on my coffee table at nights.

In actuality, I don’t feel like either one of us are suffering too much for the lack of testosterone in our home. Between male role models and my multitasking mothering, Tween Girl is getting what she needs. And while it would be nice for her to have a man to run home to, I can’t waste time bemoaning the fact that one isn’t there. And I’m surely not going to pluck up anything with outdoor plumbing between its legs just to have a male presence in the house.

Single parent homes aren’t anything as dysfunctional as social conventions make them out to be. In fact, I know a lot more two-parent families that struggle along harder than ours. There are extramarital affairs. Constant bickering. Kids caught in the middle. On the Harris homestead, there’s none of that drama. Don’t get me wrong, there’s drama. But folks build up mom and dad outfits like they’re the only answer.

I get that the traditional nuclear family is still the standard for churning out happy, healthy children. But it’s just not the reality of our lives today. I can’t live life like something is missing or there’s a hole in the lineup because, truth be told, there might not ever be a man there. That’s one of the few parts of my life that I can’t control. And if there’s not, it’s not going to mean that me and The Girl haven’t lived fully.

I’ve heard of women waiting to buy houses and take big vacations until they have a husband to do it with. What kind of example would I be setting for my child if I was saying, without coming out and saying it, that a guy is the key to scratching the major goals off my life list? Puh-lease. We’ll live life like it’s golden, me and her as a family.

Do you think kids raised by single parents are disadvantaged compared to peers raised in two-parent households?

Image via tostadophoto.com/Flickr

family, tweens

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Ninja... NinjaRainbow

I had the same situation when I was raising my daughter on my own. People would always ask "Where's her Father?" I loved to say "I killed him because he was a bum." (Note I didn't kill him) But that's the example I set for my daughter. You don't need a man to make life better, I got lucky and found a guy who was willing to join our little program and we're happily married for almost two years and expecting a boy this fall. I showed my daughter what a relationship is supposed to look like, someone you can trust and respects you back.

nonmember avatar darla

Disadvantaged? Heck no! My parents divorced when I was 8 and it was just my Mom and I after that. He was dead weight and good riddance!

I grew up, graduated from college, and I have been happily married for the last 10 years. I am very grateful to my Mother for showing me how to be complete by myself. I don't "need" a man and that can make a big difference in happiness.

nonmember avatar Anon

I see pros and cons to both, but I really think what creates the bad stats isn't the lack of the father, as much as what led to that situation in the first place. Was the mom too impulsive, did she lack the self-esteem to say no, or was she rebelling against authority when she decided to risk getting pregnant? Or, did she wait until she was financially and emotionally ready, surround herself with supportive people, and set up a sustainable work-life balance before bringing a child into the world? My case is the latter, and my kids are doing quite well. They know they don't have a dad like most kids, but as I point out, not everyone has a sister like they do. Right now I'm not sure about male role models for them when they are getting interested in the opposite sex. But as we all know, having a man around the house doesn't guarantee a great role model.

alway... alwayscurious

I too, am a single mother and most days that's ok.  I know my daughter has a loving mother and a very supportive extended family. That being said, however, I am concerned about the lack of a strong male role model for her. She is crazy about men, (uncles, older cousins, acquaintances) therefore if I date, I cannot have her around any beaus as she gets attached very quickly. She is only five, but I would love to find a GOOD man to marry (SO NOT gonna settle though!!) someday so that she won't feel a lack of male love when she goes through those rough teen years.


I do think, though, that many girls with crappy, abusive or apathetic dads who are in the home can be a just as much at a disadvantage as girls with no presents fathers. 

nonmember avatar Gertie

What I DO think is that children raised in homes filled with anger, abuse or neglect are significantly disadvanteged compared to those who are raised in homes of love and support..... whoever makes up those homes.

Please do not look for a man. At this age, your girl needs you to focus on her. That would be the best gift you could give her.

nonmember avatar Shelly

I think every child needs a strong male figure. Whether that be a father, a grand-father, an uncle, etc. Kids need it. I think a kid who has no good male figure, is severely disadvantaged then a kid who does have a good male figure. Just because it's accepted and done (and done very well much of the time), does not mean children are meant to be raised by just a woman. They still need a strong man in their life. It's been proven time and time again.

buffa... buffalove23

I laugh every time I read "children aren't meant to be raised just by a woman". Really? So I guess because I was only raised by my mom I should have been knocked up at 15, living off the govt, going from boyfriend to boyfriend etc. Right. Actually out of the four of us (all "just raised by a woman") all of us were honor students, two of the four are in committed relationships (the other two are too young) and none of us really fit any social "ills" of having a single mom. So if its between a single mom or staying with an abusive spouse "because they need a strong man", I will take my chances with the single mom.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

A one parent family isn't a whole family anymore than a childless couple who calls their dogs babies is a whole family. Kids with one parent miss out on a lot whether that's because there's less money around or less parent around because they have to work a lot. There's nobody to pick up the slack if the single parent gets sick or depressed or whatever. I missed out on a lot being raised by a single mother and I wouldn't wish that on any kid.

nonmember avatar Anon

Rhonda, I'd consider why you felt your family was not "whole." Did your mom feel that way? Was there a constant feeling that your dad could/should be a part of the family "if only?" I personally do not consider my family to be incomplete. My children have never had a father (only a sperm donor whom they never met) and I do not yearn for a partner. If I meet Mr. Right while my kids are young, that's great, but I'm not holding my breath. We see ourselves as an intact 3-leg stool, not a 4-leg stool missing a leg. I think that makes a difference. Also, my kids lack nothing materially and they spend more quality family time than many kids in two-parent homes. So I don't agree that we are not a "family," and if we aren't, then what are we???

ArmyGal ArmyGal

My family is whole, Rhonda, don't care what you think. I grew up in a broken home. Did not want my daughter have to grow up in one two because people like you think it's better for her. Sorry YOU did not like it, but it's not the case for everyone and it's not black and white.

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