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Jennifer Aniston vs. Bill O'Reilly on Choice Motherhood

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a blog by Mikki Morrissette August 16, 2010

I still get surprised when people equate having a child on your own with deciding that men are not important. I understand why there can be the confusion. I’m just always a bit taken aback that so many people choose to blur that line in their reaction.

When Jennifer Aniston suggested in her promotion of the upcoming movie “The Switch” (a movie about a single women who uses a sperm donor) that being able to have a child on your own (rather than remaining childless) is a good modern-day option for women who can’t find the right partner, the comment drew predictable fire.

In a blast to the “Murphy Brown” past, Bill O’Reilly took the role of Dan Quayle to say that Aniston’s support of Choice Motherhood is “destructive to our society” by “diminishing the role of the dad.”

To my ears, equating single motherhood with “diminishing the role of dad” is akin to saying that a person who decides to have a child despite an income under $100K is diminishing the importance of financial security in a child’s life. My response would be: “No, it just means you don’t have it.”

I know I’m being simplistic here. But really, do we honestly think that a child thrives for the simple reason that they have a mother and a father in the home? Obviously that tends to make it easier in many important ways. But talk about “diminishing.” What about all the other vital ingredients to a child’s success?

Strong teachers. A spiritual community. Role models outside the family home. Enriching activities. Solid rituals. Positive friendships. Access to quality health care for physical and mental well-being. Freedom from violence and chemical abuse in the home.

I am the proud Choice Mom of two kids, 11 and 6. We recently returned from a month-long adventure in Europe with my parents. What was ultimately most meaningful to my kids was the time spent together on a rainy day in Lucca playing a card game, and the hand-in-hand chain we made sitting in the waves on the French Rivera. NOT the absence of a father in the scene. NOT the fact that we couldn’t afford the Ritz-Carlton. It was the special, simple moments we created together. It was having TIME together, focused on each other.

Aniston said it well: "Love is love, and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere."

As my motto on the ChoiceMoms.org website reads:

“The goal of a single parent is not to raise our children alone. The goal is to consciously create the village in which we and our children will thrive.”

Far from diminishing the role of men in our child’s life, we tend to ADD as many positive influences as we can — men and women, family and friends, young and old. And yes, discard those who are destructive or negative models for our children. Importantly, as critics of single motherhood tend to assume, we don't think those weak links are simply men and dads.

Comments (4)

I do not absolutely agree. I was raised by my mother alone, because her and my dad split up, and thats ok, but what child doesn't want a father? I think that a child deserves a father. I have the utmost respect for single parents. I have been raised by one, and I have been one myself for years, but I don't think it should be decided upon conception whether a child will have a father or not. To me there is something wrong with this picture.

I agree with everything Mikki said - my decision to become a mom was not because I think a husband/father is unimportant, it is because I think it's SO important I would rather not settle just to have a child when my biological clock was screaming. I'd rather have a child when I'm able to, than marry someone not a good match or wait and wait for a great match that may never come, leaving me single and childless as well. I still hope I may someday still be able to meet a great, suitable partner. With 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, where is the respect for marriage? I respect marriage and the commitment it entails, which is why I would not marry just anyone in order to have a child, be married or feel more accepted by society. Those are not good reasons to get married. Clearly a LOT of people out there are making bad decisions about who to marry since half of them are getting divorced. I am not one of them.

In addition, why is it that everyone is so ticked off about no father in the picture when women try to have a biological child but not ticked off at all when they adopt a child and there's no father in the picture? I tried to have a child via donor insemination and it didn't work and I'm now on an adoption waiting list. My adopted child may end up knowing much less about his biological father than had I had a child via donor insemination. Many birth moms don't know who the father is or don't know much about him or don't want to give any info. With donors you know about the health of the grandparents, parents, siblings and donor, his heritage, race, ethnicity, his thoughts on life, why he is donating - and you have the option of picking a donor who is open to meeting a child when he turns 18. With adoption, that's pretty unlikely.

I agree with everything Mikki said - my decision to become a mom was not because I think a husband/father is unimportant, it is because I think it's SO important I would rather not settle just to have a child when my biological clock was screaming. I'd rather have a child when I'm able to, than marry someone not a good match or wait and wait for a great match that may never come, leaving me single and childless as well. I still hope I may someday still be able to meet a great, suitable partner. With 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, where is the respect for marriage? I respect marriage and the commitment it entails, which is why I would not marry just anyone in order to have a child, be married or feel more accepted by society. Those are not good reasons to get married. Clearly a LOT of people out there are making bad decisions about who to marry since half of them are getting divorced. I am not one of them.

In addition, why is it that everyone is so ticked off about no father in the picture when women try to have a biological child but not ticked off at all when they adopt a child and there's no father in the picture? I tried to have a child via donor insemination and it didn't work and I'm now on an adoption waiting list. My adopted child may end up knowing much less about his biological father than had I had a child via donor insemination. Many birth moms don't know who the father is or don't know much about him or don't want to give any info. With donors you know about the health of the grandparents, parents, siblings and donor, his heritage, race, ethnicity, his thoughts on life, why he is donating - and you have the option of picking a donor who is open to meeting a child when he turns 18. With adoption, that's pretty unlikely.

I absolutely agree. I have waited for many years to find the right man to share my life with - someone who could be a partner and a friend as well as a father to my children. That has not happened, and I am unwilling to marry for the sake of appearances and potentially bring a poor influence into my home that would make me and any children I might have miserable.
Thanks to people like Mikki, I have realized that I have another option. I haven't yet decided whether or not I will pursue this, but we should not let the closed-minded attitude of people who can not accept that families can exist in many forms - one parent or two, same-sex couples or mixed, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends - stop us from pursuing what makes us feel fulfilled and joyful. Just as your home is what you make of it, so is your family.
I appreciate the courage of the men and women both who have decided to accept single parenthood and are willing to share their experiences and stories with the rest of us. Nor do I think any child is harmed by being raised by a loving, caring parent that wanted the child so much as to accept the difficulties of raising a child without a partner on hand.

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