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In Defence of Single Parenthood
Last uploaded : Monday 30th Jan 2012 at 03:59
Contributed by : Carol Gould


As family and faith matters reverberate in the British and American media we thought we would re-publish this piece from almoat a year ago:
First published 31st May 2011


My good friend and esteemed colleague Charlie Wolf has written an editorial about the perils of single parenthood, citing the benefits of a husband-wife partnership in raising productive citizens. He is happily married with a lively little son. His comment, 'Departing from this sacred covenant has cost societies dearly in increased crime, lower standards of literacy and numeracy, teenage pregnancy and the need for more welfare and state intervention' inspired me to write a rebuttal.

Charlie is a dear, old friend and I have no desire to condemn his views, but his article set me thinking about single parenthood and the magnificent human beings who have decorated the scenario of my life and who happened to have been raised by a lone mom or dad.

Let us take as first example my doughty old paternal grandmother Rose, who lost her husband in 1929 when my father was twelve and my aunt, his sister Isabelle, five years old. Grandmom worked seven days a week in every possible job and never remarried; she put my father through New York University and he became an outstanding marine design supervisor and naval arhcitect for the US Army Corps of Engineers. Aunt Isabelle grew up to be a highly respected drug rehabilitation counsellor and with her lovely husband raised my cousins Amy and Howard, both now with grown-up children of their own.

My late mother’s closest friend Sophie, who parted company with her husband in the 1950s, leaving her with little daughter Jo-Rina. Jody, as she came to be known, was raised by lone parent Sophie, who worked tirelessly as a drama and dance teacher to give her daughter a fine education. Although she later remarried life was a struggle but Jody was a brilliant student who shared a lovel of learnign with my sister Susan. They became lifelong friends, and recently Susan told me happily-married Jody is a highly placed New York State Judge. Being raised in a single-mother home seems to have had minimal effect on her success in life.

Moving on to Adam, my neighbour, the story of his single-handedly-raised daughter, now eighteen, is a narrative of the finest in fatherhood. His wife Caron was murdered in Kenya in 1994 as little fourteen-month-old Ruby played on the floor of their house in Nairobi. Adam, a pilot, was at work and when he came home he found the murderers drunk in his kitchen. They attacked him but he survived. Ruby could have become a drug addict or manic depressive but she has emerged from the delicate years of adolescence as a mature and charming woman. Adam chose not to remarry and though his mother Ruth shared her upbringing, his devoted single parenthood has been an example to married couples of perfect child-rearing.

My friend Helen has raised a beautiful and successful daughter on her own. Both lived through cancer, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and this young woman could not be a finer example of the result of single parenthood. My friend Mil raised her son Alexander on her own and he is now a successful film director and screenwriter. His most recent feature-length documentary won nineteen festival awards. Recently he married an heiress.

Betty, a schoolmate who now lives in Seattle, lost her young husband to a heart attack and was left with three children. She never remarried and worked tirelessly for punishing hours seven days a week as a saleswoman and telephone exchnage operator to give them an education. They are now lovely adults with families of their own.

The brilliant American entertainer Carol Burnett was raised by her grandmother and has a grown-up family of her own. Her luminous career has made her a millionaire and she seems, at age 78, to be a well-adjusted human being still going from strength to strength.

Mary and her husband parted company when their three children were small; though she eventually remarried she raised them on her own for many years. One is a lawyer for the World Bank; one is a successful art historian and the other is a country doctor. All three are happily married with a large collection of children of their own.

It does not necessarily follow that a traditional marital home produces happy children. My Washington neighbours Don and Joyce Rumsfeld, as recounted in his recent memoir ‘Known and Unknown,’ have a sublimely happy marriage but two of their three children have had a difficult time with life. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were blissfully happy together but their children have experienced testing times in their growing-up and adult years. I have friends who were raised by parents in loving partnerships but who have never been able to find happiness themselves. Katharine Hepburn’s parents were happy but her brother committed suicide at age sixteen.

President Barack Obama was raised from babyhood by his hard-working mother and though she remarried she remained the overpowering influence in his life, as did her parents. He is in a loving marriage and seems unaffected by his lack of a long-term, male-female parental environment. Bill Clinton was reared by a single mother as was the late General Alexander Haig.

The American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton was raised by his mother after two failed marriages; he became a fluent scholar of Hebrew because the Jewish school he attended in the West Indies welcomed him whilst the Church of England shunned him due to his ‘questionable birth.’ His mother died when he was thirteen and the boy was adopted by a cousin who committed suicide. Despite this litany of calamity young Alexander managed to support himself as a clerk and eventually went to the colonies where he emerged as a great scholar and major figure in the Revolution against British rule.

I could go on and on about the fine results of single parenthood but will stop here. It does not necessarily produce dysfunctional offspring whilst happy marriages do not always produce glee-filled children.
related links:

http://www.totallyjewish.com/news/wolf/?content_id=16196 .

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/donald-rumsfeld-opens-marriage-13167671 .


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