by Malaika Booker-Wright
In recent years, single parenting has become more mainstream, especially as a result of the decisions by courts and adoption agencies. Some people oppose singles adopting children, citing that single men and women do not make good parents. A good parent is one who loves unconditionally; is comforting; is patient; sets and enforces limits; listens and understands; and sets examples among other things. A single person can embody all of these qualities and, therefore, makes a good parent.
Love is the foundation of parenting. The love a child feels is not cut in half because he/she has only one parent. Should a child who loses a parent feel that it now only has half of the love that children with both parents have? Love is not measured. It doesn’t matter how many people love you. It matters how much you are loved.
The Perfect Prom
I had planned and planned for my senior prom. I had the perfect evening gown, the perfect date, and the perfect limousine. Imagine my surprise when my friend called from the prom site and told me that my date was already at the prom with someone else! I was devastated. Here I was, all dressed up and no where to go. My mother felt my pain. She sat in my room with me and hugged me and told me that everything would be all right. She insisted that my date was the one who missed out on a wonderful evening with a wonderful young lady. I had to agree with her, but I was still hurt. I couldn’t get my mind off of the wonderful evening I was missing. I thought about it for at least and hour. At the end of that hour, my mother knocked on my bedroom door and entered wearing her most beautiful and most expensive evening gown. She had rented a limousine, made dinner reservations at an exclusive restaurant, and planned a night of dancing for us.
Just having her there to comfort me in my time of need would have been enough. However, she planned the most memorable night out on the town I’ve ever had. It didn’t make a difference to me that she was a single parent. I was just grateful that she was MY parent.
Having patience is a large part of parenting. My mother patiently waited for me to graduate from high school with all my failing grades. She patiently helped me sort through boyfriend problems. She patiently watched as I spent all her money and wore all her clothes. She patiently went through all my uncontrollable crying as a baby, adolescent terror stage, teenage hormone wars, and adult sob stories. She would have gotten fed up if she also had to patiently put up with her husband’s whining about what she did wrong today, the money she spent this week, where she went earlier, tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s lunch, and next week’s breakfast. Good thing there wasn’t a husband.
Discipline (being able to set and enforce limits) is an aspect of parenting that most single parents handle well. There isn’t a second party to disapprove and/or complain that discipline is too harsh or not harsh enough. When I was sixteen, my mother gave me a new curfew. I had to be in the house at ten o’clock at night on Fridays and Saturdays. Breaking curfew was forbidden. It was a rule set for my safety.
My friend, however, did not have a curfew. One day, my friend and I went to my boyfriend’s house when his mother was out of town — another rule that I was forbidden to break. We played and laughed and did all the things a normal sixteen year-old would do. Day quickly turned to night, but I kept my eye on the clock. I knew I had to be home at ten. At about nine thirty, I told my friend that I had to leave. She insisted that I break my curfew because, “How many chances do you get to be alone with your boyfriend?” I hesitated, thinking of the punishment I would be on if I broke curfew. Breaking curfew got you two weeks of “no television” and “no telephone” — the two things I loved more than my boyfriend. Finally, I decided my friend was right. How many chances did I get? Plus, I had never broken curfew without a valid reason before, so my mother shouldn’t be too upset. I thought I might even get off for this being a first offense.
Well, I got home after midnight. When I walked through the door, my mother was waiting for me on the couch with the telephone in her hand. As soon as she saw me, she jumped up, and started hugging and kissing me, relieved that I was home and unharmed. I thought that this was the best thing in the world. I broke curfew and all I got were some hugs and kisses.
After explaining I was late because, “I lost track of time,” my mother gave me another kiss and hug and put me on punishment for two weeks. After two weeks of missing my favorite shows and not being able to gossip via telephone, I never broke curfew again. Would I have learned my lesson any faster or better if my mother were not a single parent? I don’t think so.
My mother and I have had many disagreements over the years, especially during those teenage hormone wars. She would always sit and listen to me voice my opinion, as long as I did it respectfully. She would always try to see things from my point of view. She would try to put herself in my position and understand where I was coming from. There would be no other position to take; no other point of view to see; no other opinion to listen to. After I was finished, I would try to see things from her point of view, listen to her advice, and understand where she was coming from. It was like two people standing at opposite ends of a tunnel and finding common ground at the center of the tunnel using only “tunnel vision”. I would have gone crazy if there had been a third opening to our tunnel or if there were two people standing at the opposite end of that tunnel. I didn’t need a third opinion or a “mother and father jump.”
Setting examples is another part of parenting. What better examples are there to set for a child than independence, strength, and determination? A single parent embodies all of these qualities just in being a single parent, alone. These are the qualities that make a single parent great.
There is no question why I believe single parents make good parents. The courts and adoption agencies have come to see it that way, too. It’s sad to think that some people believe love should only be reserved for parties of three: mother, father, and child. I was raised by a single parent, and she could not have loved me any more or any less if she were a married parent. Besides, if we limited adoption to married couples only, there would be a lot of unhappy, “family-deprived” children in the world.