Sunday, February 10, 2008

Single Mothers and the Politics of Language

Of Statistics, Single Mothers and the Politics of Language
by Trev Martin

Studies show that, overwhelmingly, children being raised in homes with both a mother and a father enjoy a lot of benefits than children from single parent homes do not.

Yes, there may be a higher level of financial security, less dislocation and a shared workload of maintaining the home and parenting where there are two parents in the home. Moreover, studies have shown that the presence and involvement of fathers in the nurturing and development of their children confers benefits which are irreplaceable by any substitute, whether the substitute is the state, a grandparent, a male friend or a step-parent.

I have not studied statistics, but I know that when a correlation exists between two conditions, that in itself does not prove a causal relationship. Unfortunately, there are many in the general public who wrongly draw conclusions from statistical studies which do not allege any causal relationship. So, I have sympathy for any single mother who encounters criticism or feels under criticism for her condition of being a single mom as a result of the publication of the study.

In discussing the Statistics Canada study of 23,000 children and it's conclusions about the effect on the portion of those children of being raised by single moms, there is an implied suggestion that to ask the question is wrong (are children of single mothers more likely to have 'problems'), when you don't like the results. I think there is enough sticking of heads in the sand in this country, by not collecting statistics on subjects some might deem politically incorrect. Information has the ability to clarify issues for us and provoke us to re-think our positions.

As an activist with the Fathers Rights Action Group, one of the issues to which I am addressed is moms who unreasonably deny their children access to their fathers, denying them that portion of the benefits of fatherhood which fathers can still confer, by remaining in an effective parenting role after the separation of mom and dad. On a personal level, I am equally addressed to the issue of fathers who neglect their parental obligations to their children both before and after separation. Both situations result in the children needlessly being deprived of a fathers love and care.

Around me, I see both sides of the issue. I have been unreasonably denied access to my children by their mother and this grieves my heart terribly. I know of many fathers in this situation, hence my efforts with the Group. But, I also know many single moms who struggle valiantly, against the odds, to give their children the best start on life that they can, while the fathers of those children are irresponsible, by failing to stay involved in their children's lives and by not continuing their parenting role.

There is a problem and it raises many questions. How can we support family life, so that the maximum number of children are brought up in a home with their father and mother? How can we educate society as to the extra dangers facing children brought up in single-parent homes? How can we better deal with access issues, after a separation, so that fathers can remain involved with their children? How can we educate (some) moms not to denigrate and negate the fathers' role in their children's life? How can we educate (some) fathers to take their fatherhood responsibilities more seriously?

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