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Is the petri dish trend among single women a good idea?



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In growing numbers, women are thumbing their noses at marital convention and opting for a sperm bank start on single motherhood.

This should come as no surprise. Biology is not a woman's destiny, and marriage is not her inevitable end. Getting married or having children is an option. The popular media drumbeat insists women should be afraid of getting older, of not finding a man to marry, of being too concerned with career or of failing to bear children. It was inevitable that some would ignore the mindless metronome and chart their own courses.

Women who ignore these crippling messages should be applauded. These women don't care if the odds are greater that they will encounter a terrorist attack than get married after age 40. These women have stopped fretting about getting married. But they may still want children. And I'm sure this fact upsets some people, but it's hard to fathom why.

Women who want children shouldn't be barred from motherhood just because they never fell in love or don't want to marry. Parenting is hard. But that doesn't mean two parents are always better than one. Two parents are optimal in most studies because of the financial stability that comes with that statistic. If you're looking at the population as a whole, this is generally true, but it doesn't make it true always. Children in poor families are likely less- advantaged than children of well-off, single mothers.

We never hear conservatives argue that poor heterosexual couples should be barred from bearing children they can ill afford. Strict Catholics would argue instead that those couples should be barred from using most forms of birth control. A double standard that supports impoverished heterosexual parents over well-to-do single females is irrational.

Children should be born into the best possible circumstances. But "best possible" is a matter of interpretation. Are families formed by the thousands of heterosexuals who rush into marriage, have kids and then quickly divorce optimal? If heterosexual coupling in any ill-conceived form is always considered a more acceptable form of parenthood than a single woman inseminated by a sperm donor, then we should re-examine our standards.

Diane Glass is a writer and freethinker with a B.A. and M.A. in comparative religion.

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Glass' primary rationale appears to be shared by many single women seeking test-tube motherhood. And unfortunately, there's no comfortable way to point out the flaw in their reasoning: These would-be-moms are, perhaps understandably, focusing on what is best for them, not necessarily for the child. Because contrary to Glass' claims, the best possible circumstance into which to bear a child is not "up for interpretation."

Many studies have shown that a mother-father, two-parent family is by far the best for raising healthy children, and that an absent- father structure is least beneficial, regardless of income level. I've made that point several times in this space, but there's a vital reason for being a bit of a broken record: There is no way to overstate the importance of fatherhood.

Don't get me wrong -- as a mother myself, I absolutely understand the urge to have a biological child. I personally went through a difficult period when my husband and I thought I couldn't have a baby and were considering adoption and other options. I empathize with these women.

But when I think about them bringing a new life into the world, knowing that that baby will grow up without a father, my heart hurts. You can't have my job as a columnist and author on issues affecting our culture -- reading stacks and stacks of research reports on this -- and not ache at the idea.

And there's another dynamic to consider. Up to half a million U.S. children, many of them newborns, are languishing in foster care, waiting for a loving parent. And there are millions of orphans overseas. Yes, the mother-father family is ideal, but since these children already exist and already have no parents, I encourage single women who want to become single moms to pour out their love on them.

As Jamie Self, the Public Policy Director for the Georgia Family Council, told me: "Children in foster care and in need of adoption would be better off raised by a loving mother than no mother at all. No need to create fatherless kids -- these kids are already here and in need."

Shaunti Feldhahn is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and married mother of two children.

(C) 2005 Buffalo News. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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