Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Dreams of Motherhood

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Dreams of Motherhood

Article excerpt

Dreams of Motherhood

Women's studies professor examines the maternal aspirations held by many single women.

Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women Are Choosing Parenthood Without Marriage and Creating the New American Family By Rosanna Hertz Oxford University Press, 2006 304 pp., $26.00; ISBN: 0195179900

There are few human endeavors that are as fundamentally personal, yet come with such far-reaching societal implications, as becoming a parent As cultural barriers break down and technology advances, the circumstances surrounding the conception and raising of children become increasingly diverse, extending beyond the traditional nuclear family structure. This brings both new opportunities and obligations, and changes the demographic fabric of some communities for generations. As intercourse, conception, marriage and parenting become increasingly disconnected, public policy faces the challenge of understanding how the rights of adults, the well-being of children and the interests of society intersect.

While much of the resulting discourse has focused on the welfare culture often associated with single mothers, Dr. Rosanna Hertz reminds us that these are not the only voices of single mothers. In Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice, Hertz offers an exceptionally rich view into the lives of 65 middle-class women who have embarked on a journey into single parenthood. Her study is a useful bookend to Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas's Promises I Can Keep, a study that follows low-income women into single motherhood. Both studies offer valuable qualitative accounts of the complex and diverse circumstances facing single-mother families. The studies fill the critical gaps in our understanding left by a rich but limited body of quantitative evidence.

The voices in Single by Chance give us a personal understanding of the maternal aspirations held by many single women, and the pitfalls within each of the various routes to parenthood available to them. While much of the literature has focused on the economic disadvantages of single parenthood, we learn that the complexities of helping a child navigate issues of identity are perhaps equally important We see the level of dedication these single mothers bring in nurturing their children and the deeply traditional goals they have, even as they piece together nontraditional networks to ensure the elements needed to thrive as a family.

Few people would take great exception to a relatively small group of single women who intentionally dedicate themselves to starting a family and raising healthy, happy children, but what do we conclude from their stories in terms of the greater society? It is within Hertz' own narrative, which she uses to frame these women's stories and to suggest her own vision for the future direction of families, wherein lies perhaps the greatest potential to move the discourse on family structure forward. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.