Are Single Mothers Raising Their Daughters to Be Single, Too?

Are Single Mothers Raising Their Daughters to Be Single, Too?

Alex Wise ponders why so many daughters of single women are also single.
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When I announced on my blog that I didn't believe in marriage, I expected the typical reactions: Don't you want a ring and proposal? (No.) Will you ever trust your partner's commitment to you? (Yes.) What about children? (What about them?)

I got those questions, along with some comments in support of my views. But what I didn't quite anticipate was that a random commenter would insinuate my beliefs were "f**ked up" because of the way I was raised.

I saw CNN published a piece suggesting that single mothers are teaching their daughters to embrace independence by staying single, but I wonder just how true that is. My mother, who was in an unhappy marriage for nearly 20 years, has always wanted me to be in the kind of relationship she didn't have. A fiercely independent woman herself, she recognizes that self-sufficiency is important, but it doesn't mean that one has to do without love.

My parents grew up in poverty and married in China with the understanding that my father would first seek his fortune in America before coming back to take my mother with him. I know that their marriage was not without love, but I also know that my mother's understanding of it is different from mine.

Throughout college, I dated with reckless abandon, looking not for stability but for a partner who "got me." My mother never did understand what I expected from my relationships. For my parents, love was a luxury that they could not even begin to comprehend after a childhood without potable water or meat. Marriage meant stability, but it didn't mean passion. After they immigrated to America, they slowly began to make a living and a life together.

They first had me, then my sister, and soon it became clear -- to just about everyone in my family -- that they were incompatible as life partners. Yet both sets of grandparents were insistent that my parents stay together for the sake of tradition and family honor. For a time, my parents did stay together because of financial considerations. Their impoverishment a lifetime ago was still too recent a memory. But eventually, as family finances became more stable and the living situation untenable, my mother initiated divorce proceedings. In doing so, she took control of both her happiness and my father's. Nobody but the children knew until the ink was dry.

Today, my parents are more content without having to live together, their respective families have more or less come to terms with their separation, and they are perhaps the most cordial divorced couple I've heard of. Had my mother not acted sooner, I have no doubt that our family life would have deteriorated to the kind of "f**ked up" dynamics the disgruntled commenter referred to. When they both attended my graduation from college last May, I worried about many things, such as how to conceal my sex toys. What I didn't worry about was whether my parents would get pissed at each other and embarrass me in some grand fashion. Now that they don't have to live together, my parents actually like each other. It's as functional as family dysfunction gets.

My mother, despite being divorced, still believes in life partnerships and entertains many romantic ambitions for her two daughters. She's happy that I've found someone with whom I can co-exist for lengthy periods of time. She has also come to accept, despite her deeply conservative upbringing, that it's OK if I don't want to get married; marriage, as she learned firsthand herself, is not necessarily all that it's cracked up to be. We both recognize from personal experience that many marriages don't work out, that simply getting married doesn't imbue relationships with special meaning, and that loving freely is a privilege I have today only because of the sacrifices that my parents made to their personal happiness years ago.









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An Open Letter To My Boyfriend's Mom

A simple thank you is not enough.
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Your son and I have been dating a while now and I just wanted to thank you for everything.

Wow, where do I start? Ever since the day your son brought me into your home you have shown me nothing but kindness. I have not one negative thought about you and I am truly thankful for that. I first and foremost want to thank you for welcoming me with open arms. There are horror stories of mothers resenting their son's girlfriends and I am blessed there is no resentment or harsh feelings.

Thank you for treating me like one of your children, with so much love but knowing exactly when to tease me.

Thank you for sticking up for me when your son teases me, even though I know it’s all in good fun it's always comforting knowing you have someone by your side.

Thank you for raising a man who respects women and knows how to take responsibility of mistakes and not a boy who is immature and doesn’t take responsibility.

Thank you for always including me in family affairs, I may not be blood family but you do everything you can to make sure I feel like I am.

Thank you for letting me make memories with your family.

There is nothing I value more in this world then memories with friends and family and I am thankful you want and are willing to include me in yours. I have so much to thank you for my thoughts keep running together.

The most important thing I have to thank you for is for trusting me with your son. I know how precious and valuable he is and I won't break his heart. I will do everything I can to make him happy. This means more than you could ever imagine and I promise I will never break your trust.

The second most important thing I must thank you for is for accepting me for who I am. Never have you ever wished I looked like another girl or acted like another girl. You simply love and care for me and that’s all I could ever ask. Every person in this world is a unique different person and understanding that means a lot.

The third most important thing I must thank you is teaching me how to one day in the future treat a potential girlfriend that I may interact with as a mother. I am not a mother, but I one day plan to be. If I ever have a son it is because of how you treated me that I am able to be a humble loving mother to this new face that could one day walk into my door. How you have treated me has taught me how I should one day be in the future and I thank you for that.

This may seem all over the place but that’s how my brain gets when I try and thank you for everything you have done for me. It’s all so much and even the little things are so important so I promise my scattered thoughts are all with good intentions and not meant to bombard you. I just want to get the idea across to you that you are important and special to me and everything you do does not go unnoticed.

Sincerely,

Your Son’s Girlfriend

Cover Image Credit: Christian Images and Quotes

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My 'Boyfriend Standards' List Hasn't Changed Since I Was 14, And Thank God For That

And I found a man that matches every one of them.

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When I was a freshman in high school, I bought my first journal and the first thing I did in it was write down a pretty extensive list of everything a man who wanted to date me had to possess.

Call me picky, call me extra, but I'd say it was one of the smartest things I did as a fourteen year old. Not only did it make me sit down and actually think about what I desired in a partner but it also made me acknowledge what my time, love, and attention was worth. Throughout high school I didn't date a single guy.

First year of college I met a guy, we were best friends, everyone convinced us we'd be so cute together, so we dated.

But not for long. He met a couple of my standards but definitely not all of them. I was really just an excited freshman who said, "why not go for it? We're already best friends!?" After we broke up, I dug out my now 4 year old journal and opened up to the first page. I read down the list and realized how none of those desires changed and how far he was from the list as a whole. I decided to stick to the list until I came across a man who embodied every bullet point.

- Christian/Catholic

- Sense of Humor

- Cares about personal appearance and hygiene

- Caring and selfless

- Athletic

- Smart

- Responsible

- Someone I'm able to completely open up to

- Chaste

- Sweet and loving

- Someone who treats me like the best and most precious gift from God

- Someone who never fails to make me laugh, smile, and enjoy life.

- Someone who prays with me

- Someone who never fails to amaze me with the way he cares for others and teaches others

- Someone who leads me closer to God

- Goofy

- Understanding

- Pursues me every day

Kinda well thought out huh? Kinda also really long huh? Like there's no way someone could match all of my boyfriend requirements right? Wrong. When you hold to your worth and demand nothing less, when you cling to Christ and pray that He reads your hearts desires, and when you let Him take control, he'll prove His perfect plan and providence in unlikely ways.

I found a man who is God fearing and a truth seeker.

A man who has the goofiest most dad-joke sense of humor ever. Someone who always looks presentable (maybe that's the Marines in him). A man who is so caring and selfless time and time again. Someone who is athletic and who I can compete with at the gym. Someone who has wisdom and is smart and responsible. I found a man who I can open up to and let all of my guards down. Someone who seeks a chaste life and relationship with me. A man who is sweet and loving and who respects me and holds me up as a daughter of the King. Someone who makes me laugh the most, even in inappropriate scenarios. A man that will pray with me and for me. I found a man who constantly looks out for others, lends a helping hand, and wills to educate those he can.

He leads me closer to Christ daily, understands me better than anyone, and pursues me day in and day out.

I didn't know this man existed almost 8 years ago when I first wrote out this list. But my standards didn't waiver, and if they did, the relationship failed. Holding to this list made me hold onto hope that the desires in my heart were not only mine, they were Christ's for me as well.

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