Is It a Big Deal to Have a Baby (Alone)?

April 11, 2008 at 10:41 am 1 comment

Thanks to Emily Kehoe for a great first post.

Guest Blogger: Emily Kehoe

So Melinda Katz (pictured) is having a child on her own and for a day the tabloids went berserk. It’s not like she’s the first to do it, but because Katz is so close to home, some questions on my mind are: Is there a larger, societal aspect to this private decision? Is this a choice of empowerment, or does this reflect and react to a cultural shift in our society, where it’s harder than ever for women looking for a traditional family life to find a desirable and willing partner? Is this a real choice, the result of no choice, or a bit of both?

I understand, though I don’t identify with, the bind of wanting children but being unable to find a suitable partner with whom to share the experience and responsibility (I never wanted to have children). I can find partners throughout my entire life (if not for the duration), but having a baby has a smaller window of time. The world is different from the one we were raised in, and women like Katz—and so many others in different circumstances—are learning, with difficulty, that the paths to their personal goals often require re-evaluation of what they were taught to believe. There are no more “givens.” That’s unfortunate in some ways, but maybe it’s also an opportunity to get more expansive in how we view things.

From what I’ve observed, it is more common for women to become non-choice single mothers due to divorce, abandonment, and the death of a spouse/partner—hard circumstances for obvious practical and emotional reasons. (Katz states she was inspired by her father, who parented solo after his wife died; I’d say he’s exceptional.) So, if single motherhood is planned (chosen) by capable women who have resources—family, friends and finances—maybe they and their kids fare better than those who start off but do not ultimately wind up with a partner. While single-parenting, by choice or unplanned, is harder than doing it with a good partner, I’d rather go in with eyes wide open than get sideswiped by shattered myths along the way.

And speaking of conceiving on one’s own, I just heard about the recent publication of Choosing Motherhood: Single Mothers by Choice Share Their Stories, edited by Karyn Slutsky, a Forest Hills resident.

A tribute to a special kind of hope that rests on self-reliance and on the belief that children who are raised in calm, thoughtful, and loving circumstances are ahead of the game. In a time and a world in which the concept of family is being expanded at rapid-fire speed, there is a lot to be learned from the voices in this book.

Katz may be the most visible single mother by choice for the moment, but there are plenty others out there, including an editor in Forest Hills who saw the need for a book of essays by women who have made this decision.

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Entry filed under: community, Forest Hills, Queens, resource, timely topic.

A Man Who Made Us All Go ‘Round Forest Hills Round Up

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. David M. Quintana  |  April 13, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Good job Emily on your first posting..!

    I commend Melinda for following her dream to have a baby…I also wish her the very best of luck with her decision and her pregnancy…

    Being a single dad I want her to know it’s not easy raising kids by yourself…and I’ve been fortunate in having plenty of help from my Mom and sisters…

    In closing, I feel this is a brave decision and my best wishes go out to Melinda and her baby..!

    Reply

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