Tag Archives: Single Mom

FOR SINGLES: Is Marriage Becoming Extinct?

The shape of our families is constantly changing. People are marrying for the first time, and the divorce rate just keeps soaring, giving way to many single parent households. Single life is no longer a short rite of passage; it’s an important consumer demographic. For the first time in history (since the immigration of mostly male, early settlers), almost half of adult Americans are now unmarried. There’s even Singular Magazine, devoted to the lifestyles of those who have made a commitment to being single. It even includes ads for commitment rings to purchase for oneself.

But has love changed? Has committed love been replaced by a revolving door of dates? Is long-term monogamy even necessary for our species’ survival? The answers are complicated. Marriage may be changing, but it will never go out of style.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a fight going on right now in America to allow more people to be granted marital rights.

Marriage may not be going away, but its purpose has shifted. Historically, marriage was a place for women and children to have economic protection. It was a place where religious values could be taught and extended to the next generation, and a place where family fortunes could remain intact. More recently, marriage became a place for a relatively new invention: romantic love. But since dating and hooking up have morphed into America’s favorite pastime, full of hopeful highs and disappointing lows, even romantic love is losing its luster.

So why choose marriage today? Because it is an intellectual decision that leads to survival of the species. Anthropologists have always said that it was human’s sophisticated social structures, including the adoption of long-term monogamy, that help our species procreate and thrive.

Humans are the animals that require a huge amount of nurturing for our psychological and physical survival, more than virtually any other animal on earth. While most newborns are up on four legs and running with the herd just hours after birth, we Homo sapiens have a vulnerable in-arms (or stroller) phase that lasts almost four years. And it’s really, really hard to nurse and carry a baby while extracting resources from the environment. Just ask any single mother. Doable, yes, but very difficult. Remember the mission: to grow up healthy and create offspring that are also healthy and ready for careers and parenthood.

Family therapists know that dysfunctional family systems eventually fall out of evolution’s chain. Each generation has fewer and fewer offspring that survive through the next procreation, until the family line finally dies off. Apparently, neglectful parenting can create drunk drivers, criminals caught in crossfire, hermits, drug addicts, and narcissists too selfish for parenting — all people with lower chances of reproducing. But let me make one thing clear before I get inundated with e-mails about this: I am IN NO WAY SAYING that all single mothers create dysfunctional families. What I am saying is that every time one factor is removed from a system that has been selected through evolution, the chances for dysfunction increase. Plenty of single mothers are raising healthy kids with the help of extended family, surrogate male role models, and friendship villages that act as a de facto family. And this is part of our changing family structure.

Evolution has shown that our best chances for survival and for the survival of our offspring’s offspring is a team approach to raising humans. And the best team captains are people who have a biological interest in the child. And to create that, we need to sometimes put the notion of romantic love aside and make an intellectual decision to do what’s best for our genes, ahem, I mean kids.

Watch my youtube video: What is Slow Love?

FOR WOMEN: Are You a MILF or a MILM (Mother I’d like to Marry)

Child giving a kiss to his mother on the cheekWith the rate of American babies born out of wedlock continuing to climb, (it’s currently 44%) it has increased the number of single mothers on the mating market. In fact,  I’ve had a number of conversations lately with single mothers about the idea of getting married again. While plenty are happy to raise their kids alone, and prefer to keep a lover in a romantic compartment in their lives, others dream about being a real couple.

I happen to fall into the later camp, although I’ve long ago dumped the notion of a blended family. After I saw the chilling statistics about children and “steps,” I put my love life on hold. Sadly, one of the most dangerous places for a child to be is in a home with non-biologically related males. That includes mommy’s boyfriend, husband, or teen step brothers. These kids have eight times the rate of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. As I’m raising girls, I’ve decided that my nest will have to be nearly empty before I introduce some foreign testosterone into my household.

But I know that other single mothers are dating and hope to find love while raising kids. So, I have applied my intellectual mind to the study of what makes women marriageable. I have some real-world role models, too. Sherryl Walsh (no relation) had been a single mother of FOUR for ten years in 1975. That’s when she married her coworker, Neil Walsh, a single, child-free man of only 30. Sherryl was 36. Recently, Neil passed away, after 34 years of marriage — and when I called to offer some words of condolence, I also asked Sherryl for her advice. If a mother of four could find a great husband in 1975, she had to know something I don’t. Her advice was simple: Marry a good friend. Neil was a good friend from Sherryl’s office. Their friendship lasted almost 40 years. Sherryl, now I’m looking a little closer at my plumber, my agent (too young), and the guy who fluffs my latte at Starbucks. Because those are the guys I “work with.”

I also spoke with another MILM role model — astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s wife, Lois. I have met her a few times over the years at charity events, and one time I cornered her at a cocktail party and asked her how an unknown, middle-aged mother of three could snare one of the most eligible men on the planet (I didn’t use those exact words, though). Lois gave me some interesting advice. She talked about helping a man feel like a king in his own household. Some people say that Buzz, despite being the second man to walk on the moon, was all but forgotten until Lois got hold of his public image and put him back on the map. Her technique seems to be to make herself indispensable, and to remind him how valuable he is. I’ve always said, “Water what you’d like to grow. Not the weeds.” Lois seems to have watered his self-esteem, and man, did it bloom!

The research is clear. Men fall in love, not through sex, but through trust and loyalty. If you are a single mother and hope to become a MILM (Mother, I’d Like to Marry) then establishing a trusting friendship is the best strategy. It will also give you time to weed out the deceptive men whom you’ll learn are not so good for your children.

Which brings me to another topic. When I wrote a book called The Girlfriend Test: A Quiz for Women Who Want To Be a Better Date and a Better Mate, I interviewed 100 married or committed men and asked them why they chose the gal they were with, and why they didn’t marry the rest of us. Their answers were sometimes hard to hear. Despite the rumor that women are too needy, I more often heard from my interview subjects that women were “too independent.” When pressed for more details about what that meant, men couldn’t describe it well (they are the gender that excels in brawn. We are the gender that excels in words), except to say that they found themselves thinking, “What does she need me for?” Ya see, men like to be needed. Actually, all people like to be helpful and needed. But men feel really good when they can fix something.

And someday, my own nest will be closer to empty. So, for now you can wall me a MILM-in-waiting. LOL. I do believe that women can have it all, but not necessarily all at the same time.

For more watch: What a MILF Wants

FOR PARENTS: Celebrity Baby Boom! Just in La-La Land or Everywhere?

The stork made a ton of deliveries in 2010!

Celebuzz asked Dr. Wendy Walsh, noted psychologist, to weigh in the recent spate of pregnant celebrities – especially those who are not married.

Dr. Wendy Walsh: With the recent rash of celebrities like Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Selma Blair, Owen Wilson’ girlfriend Jade Duell, and Jane Krakowski coming up preggers while still “out of wedlock,” it prompts the question, “Is this just a side effect of LaLa-Land or part of a real trend sweeping the nation?”

Continue reading FOR PARENTS: Celebrity Baby Boom! Just in La-La Land or Everywhere?