A Conversation with Choice Moms Founder Mikki Morrissette
Q: What is a Choice Mom?
A: A Choice Mom is a single woman who proactively decides to become the best mother she can, through adoption or conception. Sometimes she finds a partner after she marches toward her goal of building a family; sometimes she doesn’t.
Q: What is the biggest concern of women who are considering Choice Motherhood?
For many women I’ve talked to, it’s purely financial. They want to have sufficient income and/or savings before going forward. This is especially true of the many women who are now choosing to raise more than one child. On the other hand, many Choice Moms make well over $60,000 annually, and this doesn’t concern them. Others hope a partner might be around the corner, and struggle with deciding how long to look-or need to grieve before letting go of the dream of a husband and kids. Many women wonder if it is fair to the child to be raised without a father, and need time to weigh those concerns.
Q: Does this trend mean that fathers are becoming less important?
Not at all. There is no lack of women who long to have a solid father for their children. The simple truth is, however, that raising a family is a deep desire for many women who cannot find a partner to share it with. And many of today’s women consider it more responsible to have a child alone than to marry simply for the sake of having children. If they cannot find the partner “in time,” women are increasingly willing to become a parent and hope to find the mate later.
Q: How does the Choice lifestyle affect the children?
The kids I have talked to tend to be very secure and confident. As most child experts and teachers will tell you, being able to devote individualized attention to a child has an enormous impact on self-esteem. The downside to that is that the relationship between mother and child tends to be intense, making it important to find ways of separating in healthy ways. Boys in particular need outlets with male role models. But in general, Choice Moms are resourceful, independent women who raise children to be the same.
Q: Do you believe kids grow up better in a Choice household?
No. But neither do I think there is any formula for raising the “perfect” child. In married households, parents can be stressed about work, about money, about each other. Some kids have learning challenges, feel neglected or picked on by peers, are swayed by what is “popular” or makes them feel attractive to the opposite sex. The challenge for any devoted caregiver is to help the child feel hopeful, secure, and happy about being who he or she is. Family structure is only one of many external factors that can have an influence, but does not restrict a child’s potential. Interestingly, some studies are finding that the extra attentiveness of single parents can be especially beneficial to special needs children.
Q: There are many studies indicating that kids in single-parent households suffer from problems including teenage pregnancy, high dropout rates, criminal behavior. Are you claiming that Choice Kids don’t have these issues?
Based on what I know, the general answer is yes. My “Choosing Single Motherhood” book goes into detail, for example, about the results of a 30-year divorce study by Mavis Hetherington about why 20 percent of kids in single-parent families end up suffering long-term issues. Self-involved, immature or depressed parents, wracked by emotional issues and financial worries, tend to neglect their kids. That’s the basic explanation for those statistics. And the typical Choice Mom–who tends to be older, more well-educated, and more well-paid than many unprepared single mothers–are quite focused on the needs of their children.
Q: What are the common myths about Choice Moms?
Because of data about teenage single moms, and those unexpectedly suffering from divorce, the image is that most single mothers are impoverished, overwhelmed and emotionally tapped out. But the typical Choice Mom is in her 30s and 40s when she becomes a mother. Most of those I surveyed reported making at least $40,000 a year and having a post-graduate degree. We tend to have strong family values, or we wouldn’t have made the decision to go ahead. We are extremely devoted parents who do have the best interests of our children at heart and want them to feel as inspired in life as we are.
Q: What is the hardest aspect of being a Choice Mom?
It’s the same answer for most parents, married or not: alleviating stress. Nurturing a human being until they become mature enough to be on their own requires a very unselfish, responsible, level-headed approach-and it’s stressful to be that person every day. Choice Moms sometimes have fewer outlets for reducing the stress. They don’t have a partner to unwind with after a bad day, or to give them “mom’s night off” every week. My big message of the book is that anyone considering Choice Motherhood must be able to connect to new people in her community, to find male role models, to give herself predictable and emergency breaks from parenting, to take advantage of the help of her inner circle, to create meaningful rituals with others outside of the home.
In short, you need to be as proactive about building a support network as you are in creating a family.
Deciding to become a parent is only the first in a long series of choices she will need to make.