Is Single Parenthood Fair?

The question often comes up—or is brought up by others with strong opinions—about whether it’s fair to start a family as a single parent. About whether knowingly bringing a child into this world who won’t have a father is fair to the child.

I’ve thought about this a lot, both before beginning the Trying to Conceive stage and many times over the course of being a mother. And to me the answer just brings up many more questions.

Is it fair to bring a child into a love-less marriage? Is it fair to bring a child into a relationship hoping that child will heal an ailing love? Is it fair to bring a child into a world full of violence and terror? Is it fair to bring a child into family that struggles with alcoholism or drug addiction? Is it fair to bring a child into the “perfect” partnership and then have that child feel like a third wheel? I could go on and on. And chances are, honestly, if I were to take a close look at the all the pros and cons, the answer to most of these questions would be, “No, it isn’t fair.”

But you know what? Life isn’t fair. Is it fair to bring a child into a family that’s so full of love and want that the simple idea of that child lights up a woman’s heart? Is it fair to bring a child into the world, a child who will have a mother that thinks the world is a brighter place because that child exists? Is it fair to bring a child into the world with a mom who is open and honest, who can honestly say I wanted you so much that I took the risk of you being angry at me when you’re 10 or 15 or 21 about not having a father because I knew that this was the right choice, because I knew I could make us a family, because I just knew? To those questions, I would answer, “Yes, it is fair.”

I chose to have my child and I chose a donor who was anonymous (which most of the donors were at that time). He’s known his story from the very beginning and sometimes he’s mad, sometimes he feels left out—he’s the ONLY one who doesn’t have a dad—sometimes he feels like an oddball. But most of the time, we’re a pretty good family unit that likes to do things together. And he knows that because it’s just the two of us, we can go dinosaur digging, that his interests will often become my interests (okay, not Pokemon), that I will indulge his curiosity.

Is it fair to create a family out of love?  I’d say, “Sure, why not.”

by Nancy Nisselbaum

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