As a single mother of a twenty-six year old woman since she was one years old, I was outraged by Jennifer Aniston’s remark that men are optional in child rising. Although this is a blog on addictions, I felt I needed to take a stand on this topic. I was outraged because I don’t think she understands the ramifications both emotionally and financially of raising a child on your own. She is in another league compared to most women with her celebrity status and her comment is unrealistic of what it encompasses to raise children alone.
I am also a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and I meet single parents all the time, besides myself, that struggle with the hardship and pain that having a family without a father can bring into the family. I am not saying it can’t be done, but it must be a decision that is thought out extremely carefully understanding what it entails. One quarter of single mothers live below the poverty line. Jennifer Aniston does not have to worry about that given her financial resources.
The issue is that many celebrities make statements without really understanding the impact and influence it has on those who follow their example. I have discussed this in great depth how dangerous it is when celebrities role model behavior that glamorize drug addiction or when they role model body images that are unrealistic and in most cases dangerous for anyone to follow. Now Jennifer is role modeling single parenting.
I realize many women become single parents not by choice if they become a widow or go through a divorce, as I did. However, to make a cavalier statement that men are optional is insensitive and degrading to what a father can bring to a family. I struggled disciplining my child without having a partner to support me. Luckily, my parents were instrumental in helping support me financially at times, which gave my daughter many opportunities most children of single parents don’t have. For example, she was able to take dance lessons, which can be very costly, because I had some help from my parents.
With economic times as shaky as they are today, how awful it must be for single parents who loses their job and has no one to help them with the bare necessities. How scary it must be for a child to not know where their next meal will come from or where they are going to live.
I will never forget the look on my daughter’s face when the school was having a Daddy and me Bowling Day. She didn’t have a Daddy to take bowling and it was heartbreaking. I will never forget my daughter not having a dad to go to her open houses, her birthday parties, father’s day, and a host of other significant times in her life where she needed her dad.
Although my daughter has a relationship with her dad, he moved 3,000 miles away from her which made it difficult for both her and her father. I had to remind myself almost daily I couldn’t be a father and a mother, but could only be the best mother I could be. It was still painful and I would not wish that on anyone. So Jennifer, wake up and smell the coffee. Children deserve to have two parents if possible and although single parenting can be done successfully, I do not feel it is optimum for a child. In fact, in some cases I think it is selfish and Jennifer Aniston should think twice before she makes comments that can be detrimental to a child’s life.