I was reading the newspaper the other day and came across a reference to a New York Times article which came out a few months ago. It was called “More single women become mothers by choice” (on the website it is entitled “First Comes the Baby Carriage”). A picture showed a 37 year old woman injecting herself with a drug that stimulates ovulation. The woman was preparing for artificial insemination and had chosen to be a single mom. The title and the picture were enough to make me want to read the article; to see why any woman would make such a drastic decision.
It seems that there are two main reasons why these women actively decide to have a child without a husband:
When I first read the article, I was very upset at the women. It seemed that they had made this decision primarily out of selfishness. Don’t they know that it’s better for a child to be raised with a mom and dad? Have children now become like fashion accessories to these women, picking and choosing as they will? I still maintain my initial disdain for their choice but after thinking about the two main reasons why these women choose to be single moms, I’ve discovered another reason.
Implicit in their reasons is a sort of desperation. Even though one of the women remarked that there was “a lot less desperation as a whole in the group”, I doubt that, upon further reflection, she would find this to be the case. It seems that because these women haven’t met the right guy and the years are going by, they choose to forget the whole activity of waiting for “Mr. Right” and to just have a child without him. Also, it seems that even if they were to find “Mr. Right” they would hesitate to enter into marriage with him and face the challenges that it would bring. Thus, it seems that this desperation not only concerns themselves but it also concerns marriage. They are worried about having children in a marriage that would probably (to them at least) end up in sadness and divorce.
Why are these women afraid of marriage? Even more than the autonomy that being a “choice mom” affords them, it seems that this fear of marriage is an implicit drive toward choosing to be a single mom. I don’t think these women are “neurotic” as one person remarked or even that they’re primarily selfish (although I am sure that in many cases, selfishness can be found). I don’t know why these women are afraid of marriage but I do think that it is this particular fear that characterizes the women.
None of these women would admit to being afraid of marriage. No one wants to admit to being truly afraid of anything. Instead, they would probably say that they have found complete freedom and happiness in disengaging themselves from marriage. They have found a way to get a particular good of marriage (children) without the challenges of marriage. And now they believe they have succeeded in their efforts. But I suspect that deep down the fear remains.
Note: A friend emailed me an article from this month's issue of Touchstone concerning women who desire to have children outside of marriage. The author takes a different route primarily arguing that these women implicitly believe that they have a right to a child. The author strongly believes that no individual outside of a marital relationship has a right to a child; she outlines her reasons for this in the article.