Mother and Child

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Single Mothers.”

OK, to acknowlege the obvious — I’ve been varying degrees of single for over two and a half years now. And, so, yeah, I’ve had to rethink some thoughts on single mothers during that period for those reasons.

Along similiar lines, comparing divorce stories, it’s a very different experience with kids and without. So I have some thoughts there, as well.

That said, I think I’m going to save the bulk of what I have to say about those two subjects for Week 20, where they really fit a bit better.

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to count among my closest friends a couple of single mothers, and their experiences have provided an interesting look at what it means to be a parent. In both cases, the parenting is very one-sided, with the fathers choosing to be indulgent rather than responsible. The dad gets to be the “nice” one, forcing the mom to be the “mean” one. Instilling discipline and responsibility are left entirely up to her, forcing her at times to do what’s right by the child at the cost of being liked.

I realize that that’s not solely a single-parent issue. Too many parents today want to be their child’s best friend, want to indulge their child, to make their child happy, at the expense of actually doing what’s right by the child. The children are happy in the moment, but suffer for it as they grow up. It’s a choice that parents have to make constantly, and often fall not at one end of the extreme or the other, but somewhere in the middle. The plight of the single parent, then, can make the dichotomy all the more obvious when they’re having to offset someone who does skew close to the opposite extreme.

My friends’ children are lucky to have mothers who are willing to make that choice, to put their child ahead of themselves. I hope that, if in some unlikely future I were to be a parent, I will have learned something from knowing them.

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