Growing up in a single parent home is not the easiest thing in the world. There never seems to be enough money to make ends meet. The sole breadwinner struggles to find a balance between her work and her kids. Confusion ensues when you are constantly supervised by aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Other children are never too shy to remind you how weird you are. And adults often look at you with a combination of pity and disdain, waiting impatiently for you to fulfill your inevitable destiny as another lazy, drug-fueled, lowlife criminal from a fatherless home.
But my brothers and I never cared much for fulfilling our prewritten destinies. We had happy childhoods with many adventures and countless memories. Every day we had three meals in our bellies. Every night we had warm beds to sleep in. And every Christmas we had presents under the tree. In school we had lots of friends and did adequately in the classroom. We joined clubs and sports teams like anyone else. Any inquiries from nosy peers or parents into the absence of our father were met with shrugs of indifference and ignorance. We didn’t know and didn’t care.
My older brother is in college to become a nuclear engineer. My younger brother is getting his high school diploma. And I am in university finishing undergrad in hopes of someday becoming a professor. We have yet to become alcoholics or drug addicts. Our relationships with the opposite gender are generally healthy. And our criminal records are nowhere to be seen. If children from single parent homes were destined to be screw-ups and deadbeats, the three of us certainly missed the memo.
Your first reaction might be to praise my mother as a wise, hardworking, and saintly woman whose parenting skills should be revered and admired. Her ability to raise three sons in a loving and stable home while balancing her career as a nurse since the age of 23 is perhaps the most courageous and heartwarming accomplishment in the history of mankind. You might even go so far as to call her a hero. And that is where I would have to draw the line.
My single working mother is not a hero.
I love my mother more than anybody or anything in this world. I would take a bullet for her, jump in front of a moving car for her, and stop a speeding train with my bare hands just because she asked me to. But to call her a hero is to undermine and excuse dangers she put me in by raising me in a broken home. Every child deserves a loving and stable home with a mother and father. Anything less is putting the child in a bad situation. And making the best of a bad situation is not heroic. It is merely an attempt to clean up a mess that you yourself created.
For example: One day through my own negligence I accidentally start a fire in my apartment complex. I manage to save the people inside even though they suffer permanent non-lethal burns from it.
Does this make me a hero? In the above example my poor choices directly led to the suffering and endangerment of others. Managing to save people from a fire I caused doesn’t warrant praises of heroism. I was the one who put them in that situation to begin with. And because of me they will be scarred physically and emotionally for the rest of their lives.
Single mothers are often equally negligent. They reproduce out of wedlock with deadbeats and scumbags in hopes that the sudden emergence of a child will turn him into Ward Cleaver. They will then repeat the process with multiple men and are shocked and appalled when they are left raising seven kids from five different fathers, none of whom are present or accounted for.
From what I have been told, my father was abusive, alcoholic, lazy, violent, and downright mentally unstable. And yet my oh-so-heroic mother thought it was a bright idea to reproduce with him three different times. The fact that my brothers and I did not grow up to be criminals and deadbeats does not mean that single parent homes are a godsend. We got lucky. We were the exception to the rule. Yet the rule still exists and the numbers don’t lie. We did not grow up to be criminal lowlifes, but we absolutely could have and by all accounts should have.
Single mothers or those who were raised by them may attack me for making such claims. They may accuse me of being bitter, ungrateful, spoiled, or downright childish for complaining about growing up in a less-than-perfect home. There are kids out there who were raised in far worse conditions than I was. Some were forced to grow up with abusive parents, negligent parents, or no parents at all. They’ll probably tell me to suck it up, be a man, and move on with my life.
I never had a male role model to teach my how to play sports, how to talk to girls, or how to be a man. Instead I have vague memories of the man who should have been there but wasn’t. My mother should not be praised for her role in this situation. Nor is she completely to blame. At the end of the day it was my father who walked away after deciding his three sons weren’t worth his time. I won’t go into some monologue thanking him for not being there and being so much stronger without him because that would be a lie. I wish he had been there. But he wasn’t. And because of that the only thing he ever showed me was the type of man I never want to become.
But that’s not the point I’m making here. By constantly praising single working mothers as heroes we are encouraging and enabling the poor choices they have made at the expense of their children. By sticking our heads in the sand and pretending their so-called “bravery” and “courage” in raising and providing for their kids will magically negate the absence of one parent is naïve, foolish, and downright dangerous. Attempting to cook a dish without half of its ingredients is rarely going to end well no matter how brilliant and talented the chef may be.
Deadbeat fathers would never have a chance to abuse, neglect, or walkout on their kids if mothers did not reproduce with them. Don’t twist this to mean that I think single mothers should abandon, abort, or adopt away their kids. Being raised in a less-than-ideal home was much better than the alternative suggestions of being orphaned, adopted, or killed.
Single parenthood should be discouraged and avoided at all costs. Single mothers and court rooms attempting to “protect” children from fathers they perceive to be unfit are just as reprehensible as deadbeat dads who want nothing to do with them. Every child deserves to grow up with two parents. Not doing everything in our power to support and encouragement this type of environment is a disservice to the child. And anybody desiring to place children in any other type of environment is delusional, shameful, and borderline abusive.
My single working mother is a kind and caring individual. She has provided me with the best life that she could given the tools at her disposal. She has filled my mind with valuable lessons, useful knowledge, and priceless memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. How could I even begin to describe everything she has given me in life?
Hardworking? Yes. Loving and compassionate? You bet. Heroic? Absolutely not.