Deconstructing the Single Mother Stigma

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Last July, the beautiful Nia Long graced the cover of Essence Magazine along with her handsome young sons. In the issue she proclaimed her happiness in being a single mother to which tons of online backlash was received. The perceived issues of having a child out of wedlock and the socio-economic stigma towards single Black mothers were amongst some of the topics in the disgruntled commentary regarding Long's feature.

As opposed to celebrating Long's happiness in her decision to be a mother to her two sons, people found it necessary to attack her feature because of course, she is representing the entire Black female species. I not only found myself rolling my eyes triple time at all of the judgment she was receiving but also wondering why do people have a problem with financially and mentally stable women choosing to raise children without a husband?

I come from a family of single mothers. My mother, my sister and even my grandmother have been single mothers, I however, have managed to make it to my mid-20's without having any children. Many would say this is an accomplishment, I simply believe that it's just been my prerogative, I'm not ready for kids so I don't have them. However, if I am not married when I am ready for kids I cannot say that I will wait for the possibility of having husband to have them.

At age 25, Nikki Giovanni had her first and only child out of wedlock. She made a conscious decision to be a single mother because "she wanted to have a baby when she could afford one" and it was just that simple for her. It would be fair to say that many of her feminist ideals removed her from the idea of marriage and she believed she would be perfectly fine raising a child on her own.

I do not wish to romanticize raising children without their fathers, I was raised without one and know from that experience that fathers and/or father figures are vital to the emotional needs of children. I just do not believe our vendetta with single mothers should be with those who have made sound decisions to be moms without husbands.

Our concern with single motherhood should be that of single mothers who had unplanned pregnancies due to a lack of education on contraception or limited to access to contraception. We should be concerned with single mothers who do not have the resources to provide for the basic needs of herself and her child. We should be concerned with the single mothers who have had no time to mature and develop mentally and are now responsible for parenting and rearing a child that will one day be an adult in this world.

I understand the religious beliefs that are held by those who view having children out of wedlock negatively but regardless of the way they were conceived, children are blessings and there should be no room for judgement from those whom deem themselves religious (namely Christians).

Co-parenting can work, I've seen it done with several non-married parents. Usually, a successful co-parentage involves two responsible, mature adults who have managed to put their differences to the side for the sake of raising their child. However, this is not always easy to come by which is why it's important to not "lay down with someone you wouldn't want to have kids with" as the old folks say or at the very least, don't have unprotected sex with them.

I want to be a mommy one day, much more than I want to be a wife. It would be nice to have a loving husband to raise my children with but if I'm financially secure and set into myself as a woman and I don't have one, I'm not going to just deem motherhood as something that is not for me. If the trade off is between dedicating my life to a man or to a child, for me the child wins every time.

LaChelle is an aspiring novelist and songwriter. An avid reader and social commentator, her mission is to engage the minds of others through her artistry. Catch her on Twitter @_theELLE_

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