NPR logo Some Women Choosing The Single Mother Route

Your Turn

Some Women Choosing The Single Mother Route

With the marriage rate for African Americans reportedly on the decline since the 1960s, more black women are faced with tough decisions about when and how to start families. Some simply go it alone — choosing to be single mothers.

Blogger Kira Craft offers her insight:

"I don't need a man to have a baby. I don't have to find "The One" and fall in love and get married to procreate. My body doesn't actually care if Cupid has shot my heart straight through with arrows. Love and sentiment technically have nothing to do with the fact that since my menstrual blood began I have been able to have a baby — whenever I want.

My eggs are sitting inside of me, waiting, waiting, for their chance to engage. They've been here all my life, hundreds of thousands of them, clustered so patiently. They are quiet, tucked away from the outside world in a semblance of security. For most of my life I've barely given them a thought, hidden away as they are in the dark, deep red recesses of body and emotion.

But it feels like a both a blessing and a curse, this gift, as I have woken to the knowledge that my ability to generate life is a choice bound by time. Suddenly, it seems, I am thirty- four and single and my horizon has become a tipping point of fertility. How did I get here so quickly?

... Here I am, faced with choices. I feel lucky to have them, to be a free woman in a free country, with the financial and emotional capacity to provide for a baby. I wonder at this weaving path that embracing love can conceive. For the first time in my life, when people ask me, 'Do you want children?' my answer is yes. But I have begun to consider the question: What does family mean to me?"

Can you relate to her experience?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Certainly. I want to be a parent; don't want to be a wife. I have the financial means, the emotional stability and the village around me to enable me to be one - though I expect the responsibility of being a parent to fall solely on my shoulders. So why not?

Considering that many marriages end in divorce and many women become single parents when they did not intend to, I think a thoughtful decision about becoming a single parent is a good one.

Having options means that one does not have to enter into a relationship that is a bad fit because one feels the pressure of the ticking biological clock. It means not having to move a relationship 'to the next level' very quickly or staying in a bad one b/c of time pressure. I don't mind the idea of decoupling of having children with having a relationship. Each can be a separate thing. Great if can have children with 'the' chosen partner, but no big deal if it doesn't happen that way.

I'm glad that women have the option of becoming parents when they want to, without having to 'settle' or resorting to subterfuges. They can find a willing donor, go to a sperm bank or adopt. Choice is good.

Sent by KALW Country | 1:16 AM | 9-23-2008

I have no problem with women wanting to be single parent. But I do have some major issues when "being a single parent" is a person's intention without notification of the other person involved. I have seen to many times when men are victimized by women that get prenant but nothing to do with the man afterwards, that is until child support becomes the issue. When someone only wants a man's sperm then tosses him aside and forces him to pay for the next 21 years for "your gift" to yourself is the reason many black marriages do not last. I am a divorced with two children and my ex lesson each and everday was to teach their children to hate their father. I know for a fact because my children told me this. I have a great relationship with both and before the issue comes up, no I have not spoken on negative word about my ex to my children. It was truly amazing how many women that I met that only wanted a man to get them pregnant so I did the next best thing, vasectomy. I have never told anyone about my vasectomy but I have been accused on two occasions of being the father of a child. I was dating one and felt strongly enough about her to seek marriage, as she wanted it to, but I always felt that she was cheating and yes I caught her. After that I started dating another lady but knew from the beginning what she was up to and I got out that relationship quickly. Almost forgot to mention that the lady I was dating when I decided to get a vasectomy was trying her best to get pregnant and I could not understand why. I had scheduled my vasectomy about two months earlier, left town on a business trip for about a week and returned with full intention of having the procedure done three days later. I was surprised when the nurse told me that my "wife" called and cancelled my surgery. This lady broke into my house and went through everything, found about the surgery and cancelled it, called everyone that she could find a phone number to in my address book and told them that I had AIDS. It was all a learning experience that educated me on life. I eventually got a job overseas and found a wonderful and lovely lady and I have been in ectasy every since.

Sent by Richard | 9:08 AM | 9-23-2008

It is unfortunate that many professional, successful, marriageable black women are having to make the choice to become parents - alone. The facts are clear. There are less marriageable black male counterparts in this country. Fewer black males are in college, with more in low level occupations or unemployable due to felony convictions or lack of fortitude. There are clearly systemic, institutional race related reasons as to why these phenomena are present in our communities, but the reality remains.

Many black women yearning for a traditional black family must make the choice to marry outside of their race, relinquish the option of having a mate altogether. They may choose to adopt, or select a sperm donor to fullfill their dream of becoming a mother.

The community at-large must realize that this problem is not going to go away on its own. What about our daughters, granddaughters and sisters? Will they incur the same fate?

If education and the reduction of the prison pipleline along with the real-world rehabilitation of the incarcerated is not a priority of our executive and legislative leadership in this country; we will continue to see a decline in our communities that will seem inevitably irreversible.

I am saddened by this reality and pray that we can recover as a people. Ultimately, the demise of the one people errodes the progress of the entire nation in my view.


Sent by Ericka | 9:31 AM | 9-23-2008

That is the most ignorantt thing I have heard, this is in direct opposition to Godly proposed arrangement. Not a secular desire based on social or financial independence.

Sent by Phillip Johnson | 10:57 AM | 9-23-2008

If a woman decides to become a single parent, I hope she also considers that a child will want a family. A child will want a mother and a father. Depending on the means of conception, a positive, involved, and supportive biological father may not be an option. I strongly hope that these women engage other positive, supportive man or men who will become committed to development of the child.

I as a woman understand the want to have a child. And I applaud those who give their child the gift of being prepared to be a parent BEFORE conception. The other gift that every child deserves is a FAMILY of 2 adults or more. I have experienced various types of family, and felt more supported when I had 2 adults as parents. The gender and relationship among the 2 or more adults can vary, but every child wants more than a single parent. They just may not voice it, for fear that they would be criticizing the only parent they have.

Being a parent is awesome. Deciding to be a single parent with no other type of partner is selfish.

Sent by T. Dawn | 5:55 PM | 9-23-2008

I am married and a 40-something. I *am* still menstruating but have never had a baby...yet. I hope to before my periods stop for good. I think I understand these women's needs but I still think it's sad that they choose to want single parenthood. What happened to the African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child?"

These women don't have to lower their standards for a mate but maybe they should consider a larger gene pool? I'm just saying...

Sent by Kimberly Major Delaney | 3:09 AM | 9-24-2008

I don't believe that simply 'wanting' a child is a sufficient reason to have one. Rather - I think that being able to provide a child the healthiest environment possible should be the prerequisite and threshold. Part of that healthiest environment formula is beginning with two responsible, stable, caring parents in the same household for the duration of the critical child-raising years when the child's personality is being formed and during which time solid values need to be imparted, taught, and developed. When I hear financially secure single people of any race, either gender, and any sexual persuasion discuss their intentions of having a child without first developing the necessary solid and committed primary relationship with the would-be child's OTHER parent, it's very apparent to me that they really do not have the child's best interest in mind. Instead - they are more interested in their own selfish desire to proceate - without regard to the emotional significance of having the other parent present. While there are certainly exceptions to the rule - most reliable studies show a positive correlation to a child's self development and teh rpesence of both parents and a negative correlation to the absence of one parent (usually but not always the father) on a child's development, achievment, and even in the relationships they later form (both friends and romantic interests). Money is a poor way to keep score and an even less an indicator of who is fit to have and raise another human being. Less financially secure people with the proper values can rise above the initial stations in life they may have been born into. And likewise, no amount of wealth can ensure that your child will grow to be a responsible and productive member of society. With this in mind, would-be parents should conduct their own cursory research to better understand how the dynamics of a healthy nuclear family are more important now than ever. When we honestly consider that children don't do as we say - they do as we do, we realize the importance of modeling appropriate attitudes and behaviors. Of particular importance is displaying how a healthy romantic relationship is supposed to function in terms of mutual and uncondtional respect, admiration, appreciation, peace of mind, and emotional support with a partner. This is critical to a child's well being and self development.
Now - I know there are many who come from single-parent/broken homes who turned out okay or even great (I along with siblings come from a single-parent home, have no shortage of self-esteem and feel the same way). However - if we're honest with ourselves - we'll admit that a childhood with TWO responsible and caring parents is worth the effort necessary to establish this environment (if not for ourselves - certainly the benefits to our children are worth the effort). So rather than fall to the lower standard of - "I came from a single parent household" or rely on examples of single parents who raised (or are raising) great kids in spite of their single status - we should reach for the higher and more statistically reliable goal of providing a loving healthy two-parent household to our children. That is not only healthy for our individual children - but ultimately healthy for our community as well - which already suffers from entrenched higher than average unmarried, single-parenthood, divorce etc. I agree that black women - who generally tend to date outside of the race less frequently than women of other races, should widen their pool from which they select - both in terms of ethnic group and also in terms of educational credentials. The most important factor in a successful relationship is sharing the right values...and you can have those in common with a variety of people in spite of thei ethnicity (which is beyond their control), educational attainment (which can be a function of opportunity rather than ambition) or income level (which is subject to a host of influences that remain beyond the control of most people in general and minorities and women in particular). Why allow these superficial qualities to overshadow the presence of the more important positive values during the selection process? Don't get me wrong - not suggesting everyone should kiss every toad, just saying that too often people rely on superficial indicators of wealth or physical appeal while sacrificing teh truly important values mentioned above.

Sent by Whole9 | 8:38 AM | 9-24-2008

What we do NOT need is more single parents. We already have too many of these already. A child needs their father as much as their mother. A girl needs a father as a strong example of good men.
A boy need his father as a strong example of how to be a good man.

Yes there are some bad fathers but studies show that even a family with children that have both a father and a mother fare better in life than single parents. They avoid many of the issues that plague a one parent home. No parent is perfect in the best of homes but a father and mother do better than just a single parent home.
With a child comes RESPONSIBILITY by that mother and father to care, nurture and raise that child in the right ways to go.
Anyone can have sex.
The choice begins before you have sex.
You do not choose to have sex with someone who would not be committed to a long term parenting relationship in a loving marriage.

Just because a biological clock is ticking is no reason to rush out and have a baby. No one is perfect even in the best of families, but a father and mother together are better than just one single parenting.

Don't make it worse, just because you are failing in your choice and quest to find a good man. Love is not a feeling. It's an act of your will. It's a choice you make. Contrary to popular culture lies there are plenty of good men and women out there.

Perhaps where you are looking in all the wrong places. Bars, alcohol, drug parties etc. are not the place to find Mr. Right.

Maybe this should have been about where and how to find a good mate.

Sent by Gloria Brennan | 9:39 AM | 9-25-2008

I see the blogger's (Kira's) point but on this issue, I take Chris Rock's view on women wanting to be single mothers: "Just because you can have a kid all by yourself doesn't make it a f***ing good idea."

Rock's point was there is a need for a father in the sound development of a child. Does it mean single mothers don't do great jobs raising kids? Absolutely not! But some wise single mothers who were in those situations through unforeseen circumstances do make it a point to have father figures in their children's lives.

I'm not sure if Kira is looking at those options. She says she has the financial and emotional capacity for a baby. Good for her! But the emotional capacity is coming from ONE being, and I don't care if she's superwoman, she can't give that child what a father brings.

Sent by Moji | 10:44 AM | 9-25-2008

As a single mother who became one not by choice, I have to disagree with the sentiments of Kira Craft. Having a child takes more than money and emotional support, it takes time. Time spent with your child is so much more precious than any financial security you can provide. Time with your child is a true investment, as it will give your child emotional security and a healthy self-esteem because your child will know that he/she is a priority. But when you are a single mother/parent, your time is split into so many different fragments that your child only gets scraps, even if you don't intend to. I've had friends who chose to have children because they have the financial means to do it, only to find that in order to maintain the household they have to give up spending time with their child, so they can work and pay the bills. The child is the one who ultimately suffers, because no matter what the circumstances, a child WANTS a father, even if they are aware that they don't NEED one. The point is that if a woman like Kira Craft is intelligent enough and responsible enough to question whether or not single motherhood is an option for her, than she must be intelligent enough to understand that having a child is about more than satisfying a biological urge, it is about bringing a human being into this world who has to contribute something to society. What does she hope to contribute by bringing a child into a fatherless family?

Sent by mbeatriz | 2:28 PM | 9-26-2008