This post could have been a comment to the important earlier post about “A Good Childhood,” the recent report issued in Britain, which takes individualistic striving for success to underlie a suppose link between single parenting and unhappy children. However, the topic of choices in parenting is so important, and I didn’t want this opposing point of view, from the NY Times, to get lost. The Times article looks at a kind of choice made by middle-class women to be single parents, and documents some of the ways in which they have coped.
What is also adds is some knowledge of the economic dimensions behind the figures being reported in Britain; for example:
There are indications that in choosing platonic intimacy with female friends over the romantic version with male ones, Fran in New Jersey and Eileen in Atlanta may be making the better bet for their children. Sara McLanahan, a sociologist at Princeton, has been studying the effects of divorce and single parenting on kids since the 1980s. Fundamentally, her work reveals the risks of instability. The biggest reason that children born to unmarried mothers tend to have problems — they’re more likely to drop out of school and commit crimes — is that they tend to grow up poor. Children of divorce may also experience a drop in income, and their mothers are at a heightened risk for depression, which in turn raises the risk of mental-health troubles for the kids.
A number of researchers are quoted, and their conclusions do not seem to match those of “A Good Childhood.” This discrepancy should be pursued. It certainly supports the idea implied in the earlier post that the initial report is motivated by more than disinterested research.
(The NYTimes article is by Emily Bazelon, a senior editor at Slate.)