Single Parenting is the New Normal… And That’s Okay!
There was a time when you’d hear the term “single parent” and the image that would come to mind was… well, me – a younger black woman, most likely lower class, raising anywhere from one to twelve children on her own. (A slight exaggeration, but sadly, pretty accurate.) To everyone from politicians to preachers, the single parent was public enemy #1. We were to blame for the fall in literacy rates, the rise in crime rates, and I’m sure that somehow, someone has traced 9/11, global warming, and the Kennedy assassination back to us, too.
As divorce rates climbed and women became more career-minded, single parenting stopped being just “a black thing.” It was a “lifestyle choice,” but one that many people -including one of our own Vice Presidents (Dan Quayle – remember him?) – felt illustrated a “poverty of values.” Because apparently, a family isn’t a “family” unless there’s a man (but just one) at the helm.
Somewhere along the way, though, single parenthood stopped being a disease; a cancer on society. Somewhere along the way, women of all races started to become single parents by choice, not by circumstance, and a man raising children on his own wasn’t just the premise for a sappy sitcom; it was the story of the guy next door.
Somewhere along the way, not only has single parenting become socially acceptable, it’s also become more commonplace than the all but extinct nuclear family. It is our new normal in America. And while some may view that as the end of humanity as we know it, others – mainly, those of us running single parent households – know that it’s nothing to freak out about.
Something being considered “normal” doesn’t mean that it’s being celebrated or idolized. No one is lining up for a massive tinker-tape parade of single parents down the main streets of cities and suburbs across the country (at least I haven’t been informed of one, anyway). Yes, I’m proud of the job that I’m doing as a single mother, and I applaud the accomplishments of other single parents. I applaud the accomplishments of any parent who’s doing their job. Raising a child is HARRRRRRD work. Anyone who tells you different is either lying to you, doesn’t have children, or they’re paying a lot of money for someone else to raise their child for them (it happens).
My household being considered “normal” doesn’t take anything away from any other household. There’s no need for a nationwide state of panic.
Does it mean that we devalue the “traditional family?” Of course not. There’s value in every kind of family. As single parents, that’s something that we know quite well, and we’re glad that the rest of the country is finally realizing it too.
Are you concerned with the growing number of single parenting homes or do you agree that it’s “okay?”