I am not a single mom — I’m a divorced coparenting mom who has had 50-50 joint physical custody, and even that has had its share of challenges. When I think of single parents by choice, I shudder a bit. I just can’t imagine beginning responsible for a baby or child 24/7 all by myself (unless I was rich and could afford all sorts of support).
Yet when I talked to Fertility Planit founder Karin Thayer, a single mom by choice who wanted a partner but things just didn’t work out that way, she shared with me what another single mom by choice told her — it’s easier. Consider:
- You can do things your way.
- There’s no conflict in the house (well, wait until your kids become teens!)
- You don’t have to compromise on parenting styles, immunizations, circumcision, etc.
- There’s no romantic drama.
- There’s no chance of divorce, custody battle and lingering bad feelings.
The list goes on and on.
In an article in Slate two years ago, Jessica Olien, who was raised by a single mom (whose husband split and was in and out of his daughter’s life, wrote that she really doesn’t want to have to deal with the complications of a romantic partner:
Being a single parent by choice would mean not having to deal with another person’s sets of demands or expectations of what child-rearing means. I wouldn’t burden a child with the emotional baggage of divorce or the highs and lows of an unhappy relationship. It would just be the two of us and a supporting cast of extended family. … Perhaps all of this sounds selfish to some people, but there is no conclusive evidence that I would be giving a child any less possibility for success than a kid with two parents, as long as I am mature and have the financial means. tweet
(And not wanting to “deal with another person’s sets of demands or expectations” sounds a lot like why many people would rather connect to technology than other people).
But there have been many other articles, whether on the Huffington Post or Parents or the Daily Mail — typically by divorced moms but there are many single or divorced dads, too — who insist it’s easier to raise kids alone. A Babytalk poll that asked who has it harder, single moms or married moms (assuming you are not poor) seems to back up that theory: Almost two-thirds of all the unmarried moms agreed that it’s sometimes easier not to have a husband:
Sixty-two percent believe they bicker less with their better halves over how to raise the kids; 55 percent are glad they don’t have to worry about working on their marriages, too; and 38 percent feel freer to follow their own dreams. tweet
All of that sounds sort of intriguing. Since studies indicate how damaging parental conflict is to kids, the thought of raising children in a conflict-free house sounds more than intriguing — it actually sounds preferable.
Still, if you don’t have help or a good support system, it just has to be exhausting to be a single parent with no coparenting help, and even those who chose that admit to it. That’s why more people are interested in coparenting arrangements that don’t involve romantic love or even a live-in partner. As odd as that may sound, you do not have to love your coparent to raise healthy, happy kids together (just ask any divorced coparenting mom or dad). Kids just need a stable, secure and loving (to them) environment. While gays and lesbians figured this out years ago, it’s starting to catch on with heteros, thanks to websites like Modamily, which connects singles who want to have a child together but that’s it.
Modamily’s founder, Ivan Fatovic, is among the speakers at Friday and Saturday’s Fertility Planit Los Angeles 2014 conference. He’ll be talking about how coparenting as two singletons works. Susan Pease Gadoua, my The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels co-author, and I also will be at the conference, talking about the stresses of life after baby — which is even harder for those who have struggled just to create a family — as well as how to renegotiate your marital contract to a Parenting Marriage, one of the marital models in our book. It’s similar to the Modamily model, except our Parenting Model is within the confines of marriage (because our book is about redefining marriage).
As for solo parenting, I am extremely thankful that I had my former spouse around to coparent our boys — the time they spent with their dad gave me a much-needed break to refuel and focus on my own needs (and clean the house after a week with two boys!). It also helped financially. More important, the boys had their dad around, and I believe fathers are important.
What about you?
- Would you become/are you a single parent by choice?
- Would you rather parent solo? Why/why not?
- Can financially secure single parents raise healthy, happy children?