Wednesday, January 22, 2014
You have most likely seen the news stories about Wendy Davis, the hapless Democrat candidate for Governor of Texas, fabricating a tragic sob story about how she put herself through Harvard Law School as a single mom living in a trailer park. She told this story as part of her filibuster which destroyed her chance to be re-elected in her fairly conservative Texas Senate district, but catapulted her from obscurity to national fame and front-runner status for a chance to lose to Gregg Abbott. Fortunately, being a proponent of late-term abortion is not a positive in Texas, and that is all that sets Wendy Davis apart. Now the facts of Wendy's days at Harvard Law are coming out. Turns out, she was not a single mom when she attended Harvard Law. She was married to her second husband, who spent his life savings paying for her law degree. As soon as he had made the final payment, she divorced him and gave him the kid, too. Quite a different series of events from what she presented to the world.
But lets examine Wendy's tale of woe. Why would a Texas Senator wish to fabricate a story about herself as a single mom, when it didn't happen? Simple. Single motherhood qualifies an individual for sainthood in the religion of liberalism. Single mothers are held up as the ultimate in virtue and selflessness, in spite of the fact that they are ensuring that their kids have the worst possible chance of a happy and productive life. Single mothers are consulted as experts on all societal issues, trotted out as props by politicians and used as applause lines. Wendy no doubt believed that her claim of single mother status lent credibility to her position on late term abortion. But the fact is that kids raised by single mothers are harmed in numerous ways by the choices of their mother.
Single mothers are adored by liberals because of their made-to-order victim status, making them dependents on the father figure of government, useful as tools used to justify the expansion of the welfare state, and giving them blanket immunity from criticism. Establishing this status requires that they be seen as passive victims of their circumstances, with no control over their own lives. To perpetuate this image, divorced mothers and widowed mothers are often lumped in with single mothers. However, sociologists see these as distinct categories. Each of the studies I cite below has separate statistics for single mothers, divorced mothers, widowed mothers, divorced and re-married mothers, etc. Children of divorced or widowed mothers do much better than those whose mother wasn't married in the first place. Having a child is the result of a volitional choice. Making that choice without being prepared to raise a child in a family with a loving mother and father is irresponsible. A woman who becomes pregnant without being married has the option of putting her child up for adoption. Adopted children do as well or better, on average, than children raised by both biological parents, while children raised by a single mother have much worse odds. A woman who makes the choice to put her own children in the worst possible environment is not a hero. Of course, some kids raised by single mothers turn out just fine, and two-parent families sometimes produce some really rotten brats. But if you want the best for your kids, get married before you have kids, or find a way for them to be raised in a stable, two-parent family.
Women not married to the biological parent of their children fall into various categories. In about six percent of the cases, she is widowed. This is the most rare of the situations, and the only one where truly no one is at fault. Thirty four percent of the cases result from divorce. The division of blame varies widely in these cases, but I have never seen a case where one hundred percent of the fault belonged to one person. Finally, the largest group, at forty one percent, are women who got pregnant without bothering to get married at all. These are the ones I am focusing on in this article, in particular. With the exception of widows, these situations were created by the choices of the parents, but the kids have to deal with the consequences. It is the responsibility of the grown ups to make sure that their own kids have a mother and a father. Of course the father bears his share of the blame as well. But society doesn't treat fathers who abandon their children like they are angels in disguise, and you don't see politicians making up stories about how they got a girl pregnant and then ditched her.
Society's fawning adulation for single mothers has resulted in a huge increase in unmarried women choosing to have children without having a husband. We are supposed to ignore the damage caused by unwed mothers and admire them for their pluck. But where has that gotten us? And who speaks for the children who are the true victims here?In 1970, there were just three million single mothers in the United States. By 2011 that number had increased to eleven million. In 1979, just 600,000 babies were born out of wedlock, and a quarter of them were put up for adoption. By 1991 that number had doubled to 1,225,000, and only 4% of them were allowed to be adopted. In 2003 more than 1.5 million babies were born to unwed mothers, and only 14,000, less than one percent, were put up for adoption. Having babies without being married has become socially acceptable, and even praiseworthy, and the results are devastating.
In 2004, Jason DeParle wrote an article in New York Times Magazine, concluding that "Mounds of social science, from the left and the right, leave little doubt that the children of single-parent families face heightened risks." The article cited a book by sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur as the definitive text on the topic, which said "In our opinion, the evidence is quite clear: Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents' race or educational background."
Social scientist Charles Murray said that "Illegitimacy is the single most important social problem of our time -- more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare, or homelessness because it drives everything else."
Controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent.
By 1996, 70% of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised by single mothers. 72% of juvenile murderers and 60% of rapists come from single-mother homes. 70% of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents, and child murderers are children raised by single mothers. A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference between black and white crime rate disappeared.
According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children from single-parent families account for 63% of all youth suicides, 70% of all teenage pregnancies, 71% of all all adolescent chemical abuse, 80% of all prison inmates, and 90% of all homeless children.
A study cited in the Village Voice found that children brought up in single-mother homes are "five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, ten times more likely to abuse chemical substances, fourteen times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), twenty times more likely to end up in prison, and thirty two times more likely to run away from home."
Eighty five percent of parents who kill their children through neglect are single mothers
America does not have a problem with poverty so much as it has a problem with unmarried parents. The rash of single motherhood is breeding a huge underclass. Half of all single mothers in America are under the poverty line, making their children six times more likely to be in poverty than children with married parents. Single mothers account for 85% of homeless families. Ninety percent of welfare recipients are single mothers. Meanwhile, a black child has just an 8% chance of being in poverty, if her parents are married. According to Isabel Sawhill of the liberal Brookings Institution, nearly all of the increase in child poverty since 1970 is attributed to the increase in single-parent families. The 2004 New York Times article said that "if you dig down in the world of the underclass, you hit a geyser of father-yearning."
If an unborn baby could choose one thing about her parents which would maximize her chances of having a good life, her first choice would not relate to her parent's race or socioeconomic status. Her first wish would be that her mother is pro-life. Her second wish, close behind that one, would be that her mother and father are married. Mothers who chose to give their own children nearly the worst possible start in life are inflicting great harm on those children, who have no voice and no say in the matter.
Liberals glorify single mothers because it gives them instant victim status and feminist street cred. Yet the real victims are the children who, by no fault of their own, are brought up without a father. Society used to stigmatize children born out of wedlock. They were labeled "bastards" or "illegitimate children." Clearly the stigma was wrong and misplaced. It is not the child who is illegitimate. It is the parent. Instead of removing the stigma altogether, I suggest that it is time to place the stigma where it belongs: on the adults who have children without providing the stable family environment, with a loving mother and father, where children can thrive.
Single motherhood is the embodiment of the feminist vision: women without men. Except they are not without men. They are without one specific man with a personal interest in their particular children. But men--and women--across the country have been forcibly enlisted in the job of feeding, housing, and clothing single mothers and their children. Government policies are designed to support single mothers rather than prevent single motherhood. The annual cost of single mothers to US taxpayers is $112 billion. Churches, corporations, non-profits, and individuals are required to chip in to make up for single mothers' lack of husbands. "I am woman, hear me roar! Hey, where is my government check?"
So that brings us back to Wendy Davis, who believed that it would boost her career as a political candidate in the Democrat party to be seen as a single mother. She could have fabricated a story about being a community organizer, a Nobel laureate, President of the Harvard Student Body, or a Peace Corps member who built wells for poor villages in Nigeria, but she choose to make up a story about being a single mom. What does it tell you about an ideology that it views single motherhood as a selling point?
Posted by Don Dodson at 11:46 PM