Commentary: Re-thinking “solo motherhood”

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Akilah Holder is the communications assistant for the Trinidad and Tobago Council of Evangelical Churches (TTCEC). She is a former Trinidad Newsday journalist and adjunct lecturer of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

By Akilah Holder

I toyed with the idea of “solo motherhood” some years ago, that is, the idea of choosing to be a single mom. I considered asking a close male friend of mine to father my child, and tell him that he would have no obligation whatsoever to be involved in the child’s life. Well, he’d be involved as much as he wanted to.

I considered this because I have watched female relatives get hurt, friends get hurt, put up with the foolishness of guys I dated, so that I figured it was the best thing for me. And furthermore, I like my personal space, so I knew enough then about relationships to worry that being married would be a bother.

But in the end, I dismissed the thought because of my Christianity. I was doing my best to follow God’s commandments, and that lifestyle does not square with his Word.

So I forgot about it. I am sure it took a while to let go of the idea, but I eventually let go.

Nonetheless, when I hear of women who have chosen that path, I don’t get upset about it. I understand their motives, whether or not they choose to admit it. The desire to not be burdened by marriage, the frustration and exasperation with previous relationships and with watching relatives and friends go through bad relationships, the love of personal space and also the fear that their biological clock is ticking away.

But what about the child? Everything that I have discussed so far, has dealt with how the women who choose to be single moms feel, the motives that led them to live that way. But what about the child?

Has it ever occurred to you that the child that you are considering bringing into this world might have a different perspective? That he or she would prefer to have a father present in the home?

It is not all about you. Children need their fathers.

According to American psychologist and educator, Dr Gail Gross:

“Fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children… Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language and social development, as well as economic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem and authenticity.

“Your child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of your child’s relationships from birth to death, including those friends, lovers and spouses. Those early patterns with father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships… forever more: not only your child’s intrinsic idea of who he/she relates to others, but also, the range of what your child considers acceptable and loving.”

Fathers, therefore, are not disposable.

Gross’ assertions are supported by Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust in England. In an article, Why don’t I have a dad? Agony of single mums’ IVF children after research finds a third have mixed feelings about not having a father, Wells posits that “More than a third of children born to single mothers from IVF treatment have mixed or negative feelings about not having a father, research has found…” He acknowledges that while 39 percent of such children studied in one survey showed neutrality about not having their fathers present, “…a significant number were less happy, with mothers saying 27 percent had ‘mixed feelings’ about not having a father, and another 8 percent feeling ‘negatively’ about it.”

It appears, therefore, that solo motherhood, isn’t such a good idea.

Additionally, solo motherhood contravenes the will of God. When God established the family, he established a mother, father and child or children. Not a mother and a child or a father and a child. Yes, I have no doubt God favours IVF treatment where it helps infertile couples, but to choose to be a single mom? That isn’t in his plan. Call me dogmatic, but it isn’t in his plan. Read the Bible if you have any doubt.

I know that many will hit back with sociological and psychological arguments favouring solo motherhood, but it’s unfortunate that such people fail to allow the spiritual perspective to inform their knowledge. Any secular knowledge that dismisses the Bible is grossly inefficient. You don’t have to agree…

In fact, honest psychology supports the Bible in acknowledging the importance of a father’s presence.

Look, I was there once, considering solo motherhood; but it is important to not be controlled by your emotions. Let reason control you. Don’t be too logical, for the world is in chaos because of too much logic. But be logical enough.

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