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Do Single Moms Raise Their Daughters to Be Single?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 10.4 million single mother families in the U.S. in 2006.  Are many of those mothers unwittingly raising their daughters to be single, too?

That’s the question Audrey Irvine asks in an essay at CNN.  A single black woman raised by a widowed mother, Irvine believes there may be more behind her own status than a dearth of available men.

Her mother was widowed at a young age and felt cheated by circumstances that forced her to raise three children on her own.  She deliberately instilled in her children a sense of independence.  To prepare them for a life in which they could not and would not depend upon another person to take care of them, her mantra was “take care of yourself and find your own.”

Beyond not having a father around to model what a good man looks like, children growing up with single mothers are often witness to the anger, frustration and disappointment the absent fathers have left behind.  After all, most single moms didn’t plan it that way.   But while a mother’s fear that her daughter might be someday find herself in the same difficult situation is understandable, Irvine wonders if some mothers aren’t dumping their baggage on their children.

What about those women who had to grow up hearing complaints that their father was never around. What about those mothers who have faced a bitter divorce? Are they projecting all their drama on their kids as well? Has this created a generation of hurt, angry women who only know how to be single?

There is likely something to Irvine’s argument.  I raised a daughter as a single mother and through my words and actions, she learned to be self-sufficient and make her own way in the world.  And while I never bad-mouthed the father she didn’t know, I also never spoke well of him.  He was a mysterious empty spot in her life that we both pretended didn’t even exist.

She is nearing 30 now and, while I am unbelievably proud of the life she’s built for herself and couldn’t care less if she ever gets married, I do want her to to be happy and enjoy all the good things life has to offer.  And while she’s out there kissing the occasional frog, I can’t help but wonder if she’d even recognize a prince if she met one.

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