G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
A Slate article by a woman Pamela Gwyn Kripke is headlined “It’s better to be raised by a single mom.“ Why? She writes:
Ten years ago, I was not as ebullient, fearing the logistics, mainly, of my new arrangement—making house payments, changing filters in the attic, getting to soccer practices and ballet without splitting my body in half surgically. The apprehension was warranted; the details have been hard. I worried less, though, that my two daughters, now teenagers, would grow up as well as they would have had a proper father lived in their house. Now, I see that they have grown up with so much more. More than, I daresay, their peers from two-parent families have. Hence, the ruby in the cake.
But beyond that there is also the beauty that emerges from the strain, the impediments, even the sometimes terrifying knowledge that their parents might fail them. No single mom wants to fail them—provide less, teach less, support less, be less—but it is in our minds that we might. So we struggle, and over the long term, we impart to our children that struggle can be good. This is something they know intimately.
The progeny of single mothers have grit, according to Kripke. But what she paints as character-building struggle seems more like a privileged upbringing compared to most two-parent households. It’s also certainly different than most single-parent households. The entire issue cannot be discussed unless you consider the real-world impact of limited incomes. Kripke seems to be doing pretty well – she freelances for Slate and the New York Times and other outlets. Her father was also a surgeon. so we can assume that she comes from good stock and perhaps has been able to establish herself in many small yet important ways, financially. Another:
Before the divorce, we lived just six blocks away in a large house, a fancy French-style manse that made me feel as if I were living in someone else’s house. After, to avoid a change in schools, we moved into one of the neighborhood’s original stone cottages, which is about one-fifth the size of our former home. It is charming and solid, though it needs a new roof and front path and bathroom vanity, testaments to the pressure of income, the continual weighing of worth. What’s a tight corner, anyway, when there is hardwood under the kitchen linoleum and college tuitions ahead. The girls would learn about value, and craft, and history, yes, they would. I, having already learned about value, and craft, and history, would find meaning in how the freezer door handle hit the wall.
We are surrounded by huge homes and the other accouterments of wealth. Kids here, and in similar bubbles of affluence, find gift-wrapped cars in the driveway when they turn 16, as well as one of the greatest predictors of success: support.
Kripke also mentions that the father of her daughters lives a couple of blocks away. She doesn’t mention if he contributes financially to their upbringing or if he has visitation rights. We should assume that he does both, but to the liberal elite, just being divorced with majority custody is slumming it.
What Kripke also doesn’t acknowledge is that she and her daughters are free-riding off of the intact families in her neighborhood. They are basking in the safety and positive externalities of the families in their vicinity. The strong intellectual environments and riskless streets which separate grit from ghetto. Of course it is easier for kids to develop this magical quality called grit when they are still relatively safe and well-fed because the mom is smart enough to either have married (and divorced) wisely or to bring in a nice income and have a freelance gig which allows for a steady physical presence in their lives. That is not the norm of these family arrangements.
If her kids got knocked up, they wouldn’t be despondent like ghetto kids or those from some rural dead-end. Casual drug use would be fodder for an introspective entrance essay to a nice college.
This isn’t true grit, as John Wayne would have it.