Los Angeles, CA–From Ella Schwartz, a reader:
My husband and I are supporters of you, thanks for all your efforts.
There is an actress who is considered a soap superstar. Her name is Deidre Hall (pictured) and she is on Days of Our Lives, which airs on NBC. On the cover of the July 1, 2008 Soap Opera Digest magazine there is a photo of her and a quote, “The happiest days of my life were when I got divorced.” In the article it states the following:
Hall says she’s adjusted well:
“I said to somebody the other day that the happiest days of my life were when I got divorced,” she muses, “And unfortunately that’s true, but this comes with a whole new level of acceptance and joy and freedom and capability. I didn’t have children by myself because I wasn’t completely confident I could manage that the way I wanted to. And now that I’m doing the single parent thing, I had nothing to be afraid of. I’ve had single moms say to me, “The hardest part about being a single parent is when you don’t have someone to turn to and say, “Did we give him the shot or not?” “Do we get him braces or not?” “The good part about that is that there’s no other voice in the decision.”
Her sons are 15 and 13 years old and apparently she doesn’t think a father figure is essential to their emotional well-being, I suppose her plan is for the dad to be an ATM and exclude him from their lives. There was not one positive or neutral comment about the dad in the article.
I am appalled at the comments, and while I do not watch this show, I am planning to write to her and to the magazine.
The father Schwartz references is author, television screenwriter, and former network television executive Steve Sohmer. I don’t know if he’s excluded from his sons lives or is “an ATM,” but Hall’s comments don’t leave one with the impression that she gives him much consideration as a father.
The idea that the children of single mothers are better off because they don’t have to consult with their children’s fathers is a popular one in the Single Motherhood by Choice movement. In a column I wrote about feminist professor Peggy Drexler’s work called Raising Boys Without Men: Lesbian Parents Good, Dads Bad (World Net Daily, 9/10/05), I wrote:
Drexler holds up a variety of other family forms and “nonofficial parenting figures’ as alternatives to heterosexual, married families, including Hillary Clinton”s village, “communal living,’ and “seed daddies.’ She approvingly quotes a columnist who writes “with so many single mothers around, and double mothers becoming less of a novelty, it is the children of traditional couples who are going to be asked ‘who is that man in your house?”‘
The boys Drexler studied don”t need their dads, but instead benefit because their absence helps create what one might call the “maternal dictatorship.’ For Ursula, the single mother of two boys, Drexler enthuses that there”s “no discussion about parenting methodologies. No crossed signals…no compromising…the decisions, the choices, the priorities were all hers.’ Better yet, “Lesbian co-parents ‘achieve a particularly high level of parenting skills…[and] a greater level of agreement than heterosexual couples. A higher degree of consensus cut down on conflict in the home, enabling a clear message of love and support to be heard by the kids.’
Drexler has it exactly wrong–conflict over parenting methods and strategies is not a negative but a positive, for two competing and different viewpoints weed out bad ideas and help preserve good ones. This is particularly true in heterosexual couples, where both male and female perspectives are considered in decision-making. By contrast, in single parent homes ideas and parenting strategies are implemented without consultation, and the effect can be harmful. In lesbian homes, parenting strategies are used on boys without input from anyone who actually knows what it”s like to be a boy.