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January 05, 2006

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Wendy Shalit

Nene,

Very interesting article--thanks for passing it on.

I think that you're right about marriage and despair, but I might put it in a slightly different order. I think that many of these women very much want to be married but they fear they will never find men who will marry them. We hear from tons of amazing, talented women via letters to ModestyZone--one woman in her late 20s recently told me that she dates men in their late 30s (in NYC) and none of them even have marriage on the radar screen. As she put it, they're not even *thinking* about it.

It's a pretty sad situation.

What do you think: is there a link between (the desperation behind) having babies without fathers, and having sex without commitment earlier in life?

I'm not talking about the individual women involved, but in terms of society in general.

Those who say that no-strings-attached sex has nothing to do with it also tend to insist that there are no differences between the sexes.

But if that's true, then how do we explain that as unmarried men and women reach their late 30s, they go after such different things?

Mary O'

Not so good for those "chosen" children. Married people know how incredibly difficult raising children is even with two parents. Signing up to be a single mom is not good for the children, the mom, or our society. The data is now abundantly clear on that, after 40 plus years of the sexual revolution and social welfare programs that promote single motherhood.

I think that one of the main reasons women are choosing this is that men don't have to marry anymore to have sex, or to be considered "real men", and lots of men don't. Women still want very much to have babies and families. I know many single women in their 30', 40' and 50's - all would rather be married, most want children. The single men I know are pretty much OK with being single.

I have a theory on the appeal of the Islamic religion to Western women, which is related to this. Islam puts an emphasis on families and children. A women's role as a wife and mother is highly valued in Muslim society, unlike in most of modern Western society. The woman as breadwinner is more valued than the woman as wife/mother in the West. Marriage is apparently not necessary anymore in the West, anything goes. Which might explain why more far more Western women than men convert to Islam. Just a theory.

Lori

Yes, if you want to have kids, you should get married.

Putting that aside for a moment though, I would like to address "fear of marriage." I'm 36. I thought very carefully about getting married for a long time, and reached the conclusion that I probably wouldn't be happy being married. Why? There are a lot of little things I probably wouldn't like about it, but mainly, I think I'd miss the silence I enjoy from living alone. I'd miss being alone with my thoughts.

Another angle I considered it from was whether people with personalities similar to mine tend to be happily married. They don't. They're divorced, or happily single, or unhappily married.

I also listened to my mom and my brother, both of whom say I'd probably be unhappy if married.

I finally realized that anything a man could give me, I can give to myself.

The fact that I work with divorce cases probably doesn't help my outlook. The cases involve long marriages, large sums of money, and one party who can't let go and so drags out the proceedings for years. And even among my friends and family--people of more moderate means--I've watched most of those marriages go sour as well.

A 50-ish coworker--a sharp professional woman who I'm sure has had several opportunities to get married--has a good point. She's reached the age where many of her friends are getting divorced, and now they realize that she wasn't so crazy, after all, for never marrying. She said, "Why would I think that I'd have done so much better at a marriage than everyone else?"

hmmm

Lori,

Can I ask you a kind of personal question (you don't have
to answer if you dont feel comfortable but ): are your parents divorced?

Nene

When all you see from your friends or the society around you are failed marriages, then it makes sense that you wouldn't want to get married yourself. But I argue that it isn't beneficial for a variety of reasons to have a child outside of the marital relationship. The desire to do this though, seems to stem largely from some aversion to marriage. Probably b/c all most women see end in divorce. Or else, many single men in their 30s and 40s are not interested in marriage. The phenomenon of "Choice Moms" must be situated in the wider context of the decline of the value of marriage.

There could be a link b/t those who want to have kids w/o a husband and those who want sex w/o commitment. Both give satisfaction without the consequence.

As for female converts to Islam, it could be that women feel more comfortable in a culture that favors their role as mothers. But the same could be said of Catholicism or Orthodox Judaism, which also prizes the dignity of women as mothers and providers of new life.

Of course, there are many other reasons why Westerners may convert to Islam (exoticism, disillusionment with western society or Christianity, etc.) Also, Islam is a religion steeped in orthopraxy and ritual. There are answers to how you should live your life down to the very last detail (how to sit, how to brush your teeth, etc.) This could also be an appeal for those who feel lost and are searching for some meaning to life. So it seems that these other reasons would take more precedence than a desire to be appreciated as a mother.

Lori

No, my parents are not divorced. And the brother I mentioned has been married most of his life. He has no complaint with his wife, but finds marriage difficult even after all these years.

garnets

Marriage is difficult at times. Being single is difficult (and lonely) at times. Life is very, very difficult at times. There's no avoiding difficulties in any aspect of our lives. That alone can't be why someone isn't interested in marriage. There are some pretty wonderful aspects to marriage, and I bet that even the people who eventually got divorced understand the many benefits.

L.B.

I think that the most telling passage of this article is where one woman says that it is less embarassing to tell people that she became pregnant from a chance encounter than to tell people that she chose to use a sperm bank.

As someone who is not married and unlikely to be, It's the modern pattern--men in their twenties want random sex, and men in their thirties want to marry women in their twenties. Where does that leave the women who follow along with this, reach their mid-thirties, and want to become mothers? Should they instead marry the first viable candidate? It is better for a single woman to be an intentional single parent with resources than an unintentional one with none..

Wendy Shalit

I confess I am conflicted.

On the one hand, I do feel that raising children--and also marriage by itself--provides unique opportunities for giving.

And with the right attitude, a person can really grow from that and become less selfish which I believe is a big part of why we're here.

On the other hand, obviously not all married people have that attitude, and when they don't, parenting can be a trainwreck. Just take a look at today's story about a couple who brought their dogs to a sitter but left their 9 and 5-year-old boys home alone, while they traipsed away to Las Vegas for 5 days:

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/US/01/04/home.alone.ap/index.html

There's something quite eerie about people whose parenting script seems to be, "Let's go to Chuck E Cheese's! I mean, just us adults!"

Clearly there are married people who miss out, big time, and on the other hand, single people who are tremendously giving.

And I agree with you, L.B., that a person shouldn't marry out of desperation. As I alluded to before, it seems to me that staying unmarried is not always an active "choice" when the pickings are slim.

Still, to decide in your 20s or 30s that you're going to give up even *hoping* for marriage, and that marriage is not for you, that seems kind of sad to me.

Why are young women giving up so soon?

L.B., not to put you on the spot--I hope you linked to your blog intentionally--but when I followed the link I saw that you are just college-age.

What does it mean (if I may ask) that you regard yourself as "unlikely to be married"? Does it mean you personally don't want to be married, or that you do, but you're despairing of ever finding the right guy?

Thanks for clarifying if you have time. I don't want to put words in your mouth but I'd love to hear more about where you're coming from.

Jeannine

Nene, Thank you so much for writing about this!! It is such a critical issue in our society, and so I appreciate that you shared the article, and shared your very wise insights. Thank you!!

Because I am 38, I am familiar with this issue. I do know some very bright, wonderful women that haven't had the luck to marry. Sometimes life deals really bad blows that prevent people from being in circumstances where you meet the right person to marry.

As a society, we need to be very cautious in labelling those not yet married as fearful, bitter, or "must have come from a messed up family". In fact, it is sometimes just the opposite. I know very many single people who were terrified of being alone, with tons of scars from horrible relationships, and thus "snapped" and married the first guy that came along. I would argue they are often the ones with tons of hang-ups.

That said, for those women that wanted children but were unable to find a healthy husband to raise kids with, they are facing a very difficult loss. In those cases, not being able to have children needs to be treated like a loss or death. It is very traumatic for women to lose the opportunity to be a mom, a wife. Yet society often blames the woman, "What is wrong with her?." In many cases, she is far stronger than her peers who leaped at the first opportunity, and now survive in a mediocre marriage at best. Often those who have much interior strength, are often a threat to guys who lack confidence, values, and conviction. I know firsthand, as one guy said to me on the first date that he'd never ask me out again because using these exact words, "You are too F***'ing smart." Huh?

Also, there are many many many children, thousands in fact, that are orphans, living in orphanages under horrible conditions throughout the world. I know some extremely capable, sweet, loving women who would have loved to get married, but only met a few thugs. Then their time ran out. They have adopted an orphaned child who would have otherwise lived in horrible conditions. I can guarantee that those children are being raised in better conditions than the poverty and neglect they would have otherwise suffered.

Before we condemn all older single women desiring children, we must be careful to also address the painful loss many are facing, and be very empathetic. And we must also remember there are some who are choosing a loving, sacrificing alternative. I cannot condemn someone for caring and sacrificing to raise an orphaned child, as a single, loving, deeply generous person.

Yet, those who go to the sperm bank, because life didn't go her way or because she doesn't want a man, I have found those individuals to generally be as Nene's blog describes--and thus are definitely not ready to take on a child. Period. I have also found them to say, "I'm not adopting because who knows what genes that baby has." It is a huge indication she has no idea what parenting is--nobody's genes are superior to anyone elses, as she will find out when her supposedly perfectly manufactured child doesn't turn out exactly angelic as planned.

sunnyday

What a thought-provoking post, and even more thought-provoking and enlightening comments. Thinking over the matter, some points came to mind:

1. With age comes more wisdom (supposedly) and deeper self-awareness, and these affect a woman's choice of a man to be her husband. Unless one is surrounded by good men who are single and available (and within the age range she prefers), meeting the "right man" becomes quite difficult.

2. Those women who are bent on having children without the benefit of marriage are probably contented with their lives -- save for a child to take care of. By contented I mean financially, career-wise, social lifestyle. Hence, I wouldn't be surprised if their line of thinking goes like this: "My life right now is going great, why risk ruining it by making such a drastic change as marriage?"

Most of us know that being a mother to a child is one drastic change as well. However, I think the difference lies in control. When a woman becomes a wife, she probably feels less in control because adjusting to and making compromises for the husband is much more apparent. Whereas when it's "just a baby" that the woman cares for, she may still feel like she's calling the shots. This, by the way, is merely my theory!

3. With all the emphasis on divorce, unhappy marriages, assertions regarding "girl power", and not enough emphasis on things like the power of sacrifice, the joys of wedded life, feminine virtue and such concepts, it's not surprising that many people don't relish the prospect of getting married (and staying married) and raising a family.

BUT, there is hope =)

L.B.

Wendy,

I'm a little older than you think I am...I'm a second-year graduate student. At age 24, when most of my close friends and peers are married, engaged, or partnered, I have never had a boyfriend or even gone on a date. (Of course, I went to a fellow NESCAC college, which is probably why I've never "dated," since every couple I know got together thruogh hookups. But I digress.)

I am chubby and shy, I dislike bars, I don't belong to a religious community, and I'm in a profession that is at least 80% female. It's very unlikely that I will ever find any guy at all, much less the right one. I would prefer to be married, but I would also prefer to live in a pink castle on a fluffy cloud...and I think it's about as likely. I already plan to adopt a child on my own when I am older and more financially stable.

Wendy Shalit

OK, I hear what you're saying, but I can also see from your blog and website that you have a great smile, you're intelligent, articulate, talented (I love your jewelry) and you have a wonderful sense of humor to boot! So don't sell yourself short.

Honestly, you are writing as if you are 42, not 24. (Incidentally, I have a close friend who is 42 and just got engaged to a wonderful man, so I don't think women should give up at any age.)

But you have your whole life ahead of you and so much to offer a potential husband.

There ARE men out there who would actually appreciate your inexperience and the fact that you don't like bars. Not all men are superficial and only looking for one body type.

But if your attitude is negative I'm afraid it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I feel like we should talk more about this privately--email me!

Lori

"Most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be," said Abe Lincoln. If you think you can't be happy without a husband and kids, if you throw a pity party every birthday that you're single, if you think that single women must have something wrong with them, then of course you'll be miserable. And of course you'll probably be happier once you're married.

Consider women like Oprah Winfrey, Condoleeza Rice and Ann Coulter. Do you think they cry into a bucket of ice cream because they're single?

We can't always be happy, but deciding to really does help. I had been unhappy because I felt unwanted, until I realized I didn't know anybody I even wanted to date. Yes, I am asked out now and then, I've attracted a few men who were anxious to get married, a few men who were already married, but nobody who was available, appropriate, and really floated my boat. Dating or marrying someone just to avoid being alone never made sense to me.

Someone wondered where single women over 30 fit in. I have single friends that age (and in their 50s) who date younger men. These gals might not be great beauties, but they are physically fit, trim, well-groomed, and happy. They go out where men are. They aren't pity party people--and they aren't desperate to get married.

I'm not down on marriage, I just don't think it's all it's cracked up to be. And perhaps I'm wrong, but I have the sense that most of the married bloggers and posters here haven't been married that long (i.e., not long enough to have resolved some problems that could have been deal-breakers).

I'm not a big fan of resolutions either, but may I suggest that any single, unhappy woman resolve--that is, make up her mind and take some action--to make herself happy. Today.

Thanks for your attention, and Wendy, thanks for a forum for people to express a different point of view.

garnets

Some marriage facts and fiction:
http://health.discovery.com/centers/loverelationships/articles/marriage_myths.html

One commenter wrote: "I finally realized that anything a man could give me, I can give to myself." Marriage isn't about what you get from your spouse (well, not entirely!). It's what you do for each other. Different ballgame.

No matter how resourceful you are, you can't give yourself companionship.


Liz

Hello,

I am 34, happily single. I strongly believe in marriage, and personally have no interest in being a single mom, because I can't imagine wanting kids unless I was married and my life was significantly changed from where it is now. Plus, I'd need a husband who would take on more of the traditionally "mommy" roles, but that's a whole 'nother post.

Anyway, a couple of observations for whatever they're worth. First, I have observed in my life many people who have gotten married because they wanted to have children, and then they get divorced and become single parents. It feels like this somehow this seems more socially acceptable to them than just being single parents and not rushing into marriage. It's always kinda disturbed me that people do that.

Second, while I know plenty of families with a mom and a dad, I do observe plenty of people who's lives seem to work precisely because they are single and even if they're the primary caregiver, they get a weekend off from having their children, and they use that time to do things they might not do if they weren't single. It's a strange thing to me as well, that being single parents gives them more freedom.

Just throwing those observations out there.

Nene

The issue of older single women is a bigger issue than I thought it would be- as the # of comments suggests!

I've read all of the comments and I really appreciate them. I wanted to leave the blog open-ended so that people would have the chance to really consider this issue for themselves. I believe that it is an unfortunately sad testimony of our present time that intelligent and talented women would have no choice but to become moms w/o husbands.

Mary O

I don't condemn women who opt for single motherhood. I undertand only too well the intense desire to have children, and the sorrow of not having a partner to do that with (my situation in my 30's and early 40's). However, the fact are in. It's very bad news for the larger society to encourage single parenthood, regardless of the economic situation of the parent.

Children living without their biological fathers are:
more likely to live in poverty and deprivation,
Have more trouble in school,
Tend to have more trouble getting along with others,
Have higher risk of health problems,
Are at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, or sexual abuse,
Are more likely to run away from home.

Teenagers living without their biological fathers are:
More likely to experience problems with sexual health,
Are more likely to become teenage parents,
Are more likely to be delinquent,
Are more likely to smoke,
Are more likely to drink alcohol,
Are more likely to take drugs,
Are more likely to play truant from school,
Are more likely to drop out of school.

These results are as true for middle and upper class women as for poor women.

The benefit to the individual woman is obvious. But the cost and consequences to the larger society are enormous. This is one trend that probably can't be stopped, but it certainly shouldn't be glorified or encouraged.

Boinkie

I haven't read the article, which is probably by a narcissitic feminist.
However, I became a single mother by choice at age 35.
I was a professional woman without a husband, and no prospects. I had spent my youth becoming a doctor, and working as a missionary.
SO I adopted two older boys from Latin America. Because I wanted to be a mother. Another ex missionary friend of mine has a girl from China.
And I have met others like us who adopted from overseas, or hard to place children from the USA...
But I can sympathize with women who have no prospects in men who chose artificial insemination...
Not becauase they hated men, or were too choosy but simply because there was no one worth marrying...the men we meet are married, or mama's boys, or alcoholics, or want merely to shack up...
FYI: I have since married.

HoldingPattern

When I was in my 20s, I was similarly judgmental about older women's choices to go it alone and have children. Now, at age 35, having tried for 4 years to conceive a child but failed, my attitude is different. You have no idea what happened in that woman's life that might have gotten her to this point.

She might be a born mom who has wanted this all her life, and who would devote herself 200% to her child. She might have preferred to start a family with a husband, but as you get older it becomes increasingly difficult to find men.

And as for Jeanine's implication that she should adopt instead of inseminating... Well, I am adopting and I can tell you that the process is no picnic. Not only does it cost $15K-$30K, take years to complete, the process is also incredibly taxing and intrusive. It is much more difficult for a single woman to adopt an American baby than a married couple, and many international adoption countries do not allow it at all. And then there are a host of parenting issues that are unique to adoption. Even if you don't believe your "biology" is superior, it is much easier and less risky to go that route.

reprogirl

I am taken aback by the judgments in your post. I have spent a lot of time struggling with my sense that people make judgments like this about women who conceive on their own, and trying to convince myself that I am being paranoid to think so and that people have more empathy than that. You have proven me wrong.

I am a single woman who tried (unsuccessfully) for most of a year to conceive using donor sperm. All my life, what I have wanted most in all the world is to be married and have a family. You do not need to come up with any arguments to persuade me of the beauty and importance of giving to another person and making love the center of my life. I am not selfish. I am unlucky. I am 35 years old and I am not married, and this is most definitely not my own choice. Soon it will be impossible for me to have biological children, and it may be impossible already. I tried to conceive on my own so that my last chance to have a baby would not slip away without my doing anything about it.

I am a member of a "single mothers by choice" group and I do not think there is one woman I've met and talked to in that group who would not prefer to be married (although there are women who choose to become single mothers because they prefer not being married, I think they are quite a small minority; I don't think they should be condemned for the choice they do make, but even more than that I object to being condemned for a choice I didn't make). The term "single mother by choice" generally means a woman who didn't become pregnant by accident or single by divorce but consciously picked out of the options available to her to become a single mother. It does NOT mean that we are single by choice.

I also need no convincing that it is better for a child to have two loving parents. I know that if I ever do manage to have a child without a husband my child will suffer disadvantages as a result, and it breaks my heart. The same could be said and no doubt has been said of people who don't have much money, or who live in remote areas, or who (by choice or otherwise) have only one child. I would not dream of suggesting such people should be deprived of the life-defining experience of having children. I hope you would not either.

Wendy Shalit

For those who have shared their very personal stories here, thank you.

Reprogirl, I don't think anyone is trying to be judgmental, I think people are just trying to look at different angles of the problem.

(And by your own admission it is a very big problem.)

I do agree 100% that we need to spend less time condemning single women who want to have babies, and more time trying to help them not be single (assuming they want to be married). I don't just mean fixing them up, but getting at the root of this missing-suitors problem. But if we hadn't had Nene's blog, then we wouldn't have been thinking about all this and trying to sort it out.

When I hear about these stories, all I usually think is, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Lori, you are obviously right about happiness being a state of mind. (And also, thank you for thanking me.) Still, it makes me sad to see so many of my talented and kind--and attractive--friends out there with somewhat less than stellar marriage prospects.

On terms of adoption being "no picnic" as Holding Pattern points out, since we are elsewhere having a discussion about late term abortion (see "What Would Harriet Tubman Think" under Mary O'Hayes's blogs) I'm wondering if there's a connection between the number of abortions and this problem of adoption being so difficult?

Lori

Wendy, in the long run, some solutions might be for a return to encouraging teenaged girls to put their babies up for adoption, or for women to marry a little younger than they do now. Since a lot of gainful employment can now be done from home and a woman doesn't have to put her career on hold so much, this may come about.

But right now, I can see the sadness and frustration in some of the posts. Since I never wanted kids, I hesitate to make a comment about it, but I believe a couple of things might be useful. If I wanted a child, I would first consider my energy level. I am 36 and athletic, but still not as energetic as when I was 20. When I am tired, my mood, outlook, patience, and clarity suffer. A friend of mine raised two kids by herself from age 20 to 35, and even though she was young, says she was always on overload.

Also, it may be worth considering whether something besides raising a family might bring you joy. Once again, taking care of myself and getting enough rest really help. I've come to see that a person needs to play every card in this area: eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, looking nice--it all helps. If you want to feel full not empty, consider this to be like plugging up the leaks.

Some people find joy in their church, or a community group, volunteer work, pets, their extended family. I find it in dance and music. I don't have a specific partner--you don't need one.

These things may not measure up to a family, but they aren't trivial, either. When I was going to my sister's funeral out of state, my music made me feel normal. And consider that dictators will sometimes ban certain music, dance, and groups of any kind. They know that the lack of these things help to break people's spirit.

As for a husband, I don't know what specific people may be looking for, but they might want to look beyond a man's resume. My sister married a man who had little education, came from a highly disfunctional family and was not terribly handsome, but was utterly devoted to her. He reminds me of the Bobby Darin song "More" http://www.bobbydarin.com/more.html

Mary O'Hayes

Adoption is indeed a lengthy, expensive and risky process, so I'm not surprised women are opting for turkey basters with sperm. Apparently, in the US, the biological mother has up to one year after the baby is born to to change her mind (about giving up the baby). That happened to two friends of mine. One couple had their baby for 10 months, and the biological mother (former coke addict) demanded and got the baby back. The second couple had gone to the Midwest to pick up their baby on the day it was born, and the mother changed her mind the day the baby was born. This couple had paid all the medical expenses for the mother for previous nine months. Devastating in both cases.

I'm curious as to how many women give up their babies for adoption these days. How brave and selfless they are! I would welcome a return to homes for unwed mothers (minus the shame association of the 50's and 60's). I'd like to see society praise these women openly for the sacrifice they make, for the lives they saved, and for the incredible gift of a child that they give to others. Talk about a Culture of Life!

Nene

reprogirl-

You've made some interesting comments, thank you for them. I'll address them in my next post.

aardvark

L.B: "I am chubby and shy..."

Translation: "I am a self-conscious zaftig"

L.B: "...I dislike bars..."

Translation: "I would rather meet people in a neutral environment, not at a 'meat market'..."

L.B: "I don't belong to a religious community..."

Translation: ...
(U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" softly playing in the background...)

Reality is 90% perception... ;)

Jess

I find it interesting that the take that you had on this article was that the women featured feared marriage. I happen to be one of those "single mothers by choice" and with the exception of a few women who may fit this stereotype, on the whole this is so far from the truth. The majority of women who pursue single motherhood are as reprogirl noted single, but not by choice. Sadly in today's society there are many smart, funny, talented and lovely women out there who despite being on the dating merry-go-round for years and years, just don't find themselves married. Most would love to have married, it just didn't happen. This is often called Plan A vs. Plan B. Plan A is meet Mr. Right, marry, have the kids. But that doesn't always happen. Fertility is not open-ended and the window for having kids can start to shut down very quickly as you get into your mid to late 30s. There is a desperation yes, but it becomes a desperation to find a mate, to not have to settle for any guy that just happens to come along so that you don't miss out on your window of opportunity to be able to conceive. So yes, you make a choice. And some women choose motherhood on their own.

I was lucky enough to be able to conceive my son through donor insemination. Had I not been able to I would gladly have adopted. But I do resent the implication that somehow a beautiful act to adopt these "unwanted orphans" but selfish to conceive a child. It's insulting to the children who are waiting for adoptive families, as if the single mom family isn't good enough for a biological child, but is good enough for them. I would also argue that the studies that demonstrate children raised by single parents do more poorly than children raised in two parent families doesn't correlate with children of single mothers by choice. Most of the poor outcomes are due to poverty or lack of resources. The women who are choosing single motherhood put a lot of thought and planning into parenting, on the whole are nicely settle financially, well-educated and not "trapped" in a situation not of their making. Is raising a child on your own the ideal situation, I'd say no. But with a divorce rate of 50%, single mothers by choice are only unique in having planned on being single mothers.

A

I like the way you think Lori. You and Abe Lincoln. It is truely a state of mind. Happiness. And once aging I find myself wondering why does marriage have to be the be all and end all. Sometimes a couple chooses to remain life partners and not take that step in to marriage. It seems like some marry because of the financial or social benefits. I just don't think thats good enough reason for me. I believe in Love and I am in Love at present. I am not against marriage. I just think we shouldn't marry for the wrong reasons.
A.

Ken

Let me get this straight:

1) Children are a surgically-removable obstacle to a woman's lifestyle (especially sexual lifestyle), so they first contracept and abort all they can.

2) Then, at 40+, suddenly they want a Mini-Me and pay big $$$ and go through all sorts of fertility-clinic tricks to get one, guy or no guy involved.

What's wrong with this picture?

kim

Not only do I find this post and it's accompanying comments frighteningly uninformed, this whole conversation just solidifies that this society is patriarchal, and sees women as accessories to men and incomplete unless they have one.

As a partnered lesbian pregnant with twins via sperm donation/IVF, I have been in contact with many Single Mothers by Choice and the idea that they are afraid of marriage or put off childbearing through abortion then tried later is absolutely ridiculous.

We get one chance in this life. If someone nearing then end of her childbearing years finds herself without a husband, is she supposed to give up her dream of bearing children? Is it more important for a child to be a product of two parents who don't love each other than one who loves and adores and so badly wants him/her?

Unfortunately, women who choose motherhood over a loveless marriage are condemned rather than celebrated. They are judged by married, WASP America who make such judgements without either knowing or coming into contact with any of these women.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Iqui Z

With all blessings and love for the little twins!! I'm sure they will be beautiful, lovable adorable children -- as all conceived life is.

I hope for many blessings and love for you all. Yet I also take note relatedly, that the overwhelming evidence is that children have a much greater success of becoming content, kind, well intentioned, positive contributors to society, when they have been raised by a mother and a father. A husband and wife. A man and a woman. That's just a statistical fact. There is no significant data yet for voluntary-fatherless "sperm donated" children or children reared by Lesbians. It will take 40 years or so to find out. Having "sperm donated" kids is not yet a tested form of child rearing. However, fatherless parenting is. On average, it isn’t a path to success, and definitely not preferred by the child born into it. Ask any kid whose father never shows up ever. There is a loss there. Voluntarily selecting that loss for a child, for me anyway, would be an inherently selfish thing to do to another person who has no vote in the matter. As much as never being a mother pains me deeply, I would have never voted to introduce more loss to avoid facing mine. My life as a woman is being a mother to all new life...especially the most vulnerable.

RClord

Perhaps that's why at least some of these women are single. They don't want to get married because they don't want the stress and strain of risking a divorce that benefits no one but the lawyers, since it makes them rich.

Also, there are so couples that are abusive to kids and single parents that are good, loving parents. If you were a kid and had to choose between a loving single parent and an abusive couple, who would you go with? It seems that this should be the deciding factor, not how many parents a kid has. To me, it's just common sense.

I agree with Ken that people that condemn women that choose to be mothers without risking loveless marriages are boring, hypocritical, and ignorant. But a lot of them probably also voted for George Bush in the last two presidential elections.

Vicky

I voted for Bush :), but I admire courage and strength of single mothers by choice. I already have 1 child. I always wanted 2. I hope to remarry, but if that doesn't happen and I have financial means, I will adopt or get inseminated. Women shouldn't have to accept unacceptable men just to have children. We need to be true to ourselves. That type of mothers any child would want.

diane

Wow! Some people are making some strong judgements out here. First of all, let me just say that I concur with Holding Pattern.

As for 'A', the person who suggested that women who have children on their own avoided pregnancy by having abortions early on . . . get a clue. That is absolutely not the case for most women.

I am currently considering having a child on my own and here's why . . .

I'm almost 43 years old. Since I was a little girl all I wanted was a family -- a husband and children. Coming from a broken home, I was very afraid of getting in a bad marriage. I really believe that it is best for the children to have a 'complete' family of both a mother and a father if possible. SO I waited and waited for the right guy. I got very involved in the singles ministry at my church so I could meet a good guy with good values. Humorously, the guys didn't ask the girls out much! Go figure! I abstained from sex for the most-part in my 20's and 30's . . . yep, I was celibate for 13 of the last 15 years, as well as on and off prior to that. I wanted to 'do things right'. I finally met a man I thought was the 'right one' . . . he was an old friend from high school who found me on Classmates.com. He said he was a Christian and claimed to want the things I wanted. He was divorced with a daughter. I waited over 3.5 years for him go to and to finish nursing school and we got married less than 2 years ago -- I was 41. When I had doubts about the marriage before we got married, I blamed myself because he was 'such a good guy'. After we got married I realized that he wasn't who he claimed to be. He wouldn't pray with me or share his financial info, among other things, and he didn't really want kids so much after all -- even though all along we had planned on my getting pregnant right away. I was devastated. We are now getting a divorce and I'm about to be 43 years old. It's heartbreaking to me. Yet I don't have the luxury of waiting around for another 'Mr. Right' and I very much want a child. Yes, I could adopt, but I'd really prefer a biological child. Not because me genes are better than anyone elses, as one poster suggested, but just because I want a bioligical child if possible -- just like all the couples out there that have their own rather than adopt. I will definitely consider adopting if I cannot conceive, or maybe for a 2nd child.

Things don't always work out as we plan or would like them to. You can try to do all the right things and that doesn't mean you'll be married and pregnant before that biological clock runs out. Should we be denied not only love and companionship in marriage but ALSO the joy and love in parenting?

diane

Correction to my earlier post:

'Ken' made those obtuse comments about women having abortions early on then wanting children later, not 'A' . . . sorry, I misread how the posting names were listed (it's confusing with the dotted line above their name and then the next post immediately following).

Also, I concur with both Holding Pattern and Reprogirl.

Mary

On the question of whether women are having the opportunity to marry- I would argue that most are not given the opportunity. Though married for 20 years myself (and blessed with 8 children, one of whom came to us by adoption)I have 4 sisters ranging in age from 25-38. All are well (but not over) educated, hardworking, attractive and would like to marry. They don't even get asked out. I do think it is immoral to spend $20-$50,000 on artificial insemination, IVF when children are starving in this world. You are not ordering a new Coach purse, you are creating life in a laboratory for selfish reasons. I miss the days of women entering religious life to raise and educate orphans. That is a way to give love to the children God has created. And it does not allow for selfishness.

Meryl

As the child of a choice mom I have to say that I understand the circumstances why a woman takes that decision because my mother did it. However, as a choice kid I surrounded myself by many choice moms and their children obviously because they were in my situation, and I have to say that I don't think that the main reason why these woman ended up unmarried was bad luck or because they couldn't find the right man....is because they are DESPERATE to have children, and no man with serious intentions want a desperate woman. Being desperate only reflects insecurity and a fear of being alone therefore the only kind of man that gets attracted to them are the junkie ones. I am an independent woman too, my mother taught me that I could do anything I wanted, I am professional with an establish career, but for my experience as a choice kid I think that putting a kid through the pain of growing up fatherless just because you want a kid is unfair for the kid, therefore the idea of having a child as a single mother would never cross my mind. My mother used to get upset with me because I always was happy with the idea of being childless, and she was afraid that I wasn't going to get married and she wouldn't be a grandmother. My answer always was I don't need to have children I am happy enough with myself, and you know what...I always had a good guy looking to marry me. The same thing happened to many choice kids that I know that shared my way of thinking. It always seemed weird to me how our mothers, wanting a family desperately, could't find a good man, and how we, who weren't looking for a marriage, ended up getting married with children very easily. I don't hink the problem is in the man, I don't think that men are falling behind women because my husband and most of my friend's husbands are very supportive and are willing to share household labor 50-50.
I think the problem is in the woman. WHen she is desperate and has created the idea in her mind that most single men are no good, she certainly is going to miss all the good man that are looking to build a family because she is going to scare them away. Sincerely I think that these should should work more on getting to know men better and in their own confidence, and think lessa bout their biological clocks.

June

Meryl,

Do you regret being born?

I am considering being a choice mother and I really resent everything you said.

It doesn't even make sense. If a man is marriage/family minded how is a woman's desire or "desperation" as you call it going to scare him away - when he already wants the same thing as you say?

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