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In Praise of Single Mothers

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
May 12, 2012
TheAtlantic.com

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A lot has been said about single mothers. Most of it has been less than flattering.

In a notable nugget Senator Rick Santorum said at a town hall meeting, "We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it's falling apart because of single moms." Not long after that, in a public appearance in Erie, Pennsylvania, he accused single mothers of "simply breeding more criminals." This past fall, he argued that single mothers voted Democrat because their lives were so hard and urged Republicans to "build two parent families" in order to "eliminate that desire for government."

This Mother's Day I confess that I am very proud to be from what some would call a broken home. Not because it was easy watching a young woman struggle to be a mother on her own after ending a violent marriage, but precisely because it was so very hard. And "hard" seems to be a word we now avoid, disparage, and devalue in our insta-everything culture.

In other words, the very values that Senator Santorum and so many others say these solo moms undermine are just the values I learned from mine -- and the community of women like her I grew up with outside Washington, D.C. What did we learn from these women who worked one or more miserably paid jobs while battling domestic turbulence, hunting for child support, hustling to pay rent, and forcing us to do our homework all on their own?

Everything.

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