Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bad (or just weird) advice from Carolyn Hax

The subject is single mothers: how do their families react to the news of single-motherhood-to-be?
Here is the letter:
I have to see some very conservative, judge-y relatives who have just learned that I'm pregnant (not married, and not planning on getting married). Is there a limit to how many times I can respond to them just by saying, “Wow”? Should I keep a tally?

Maybe we should have some kind of prize for whoever manages to use it most at family gatherings this year.

This letter is weird. (I was trying to find the original on Carolyn Hax's chat room, but have come up short so far.) Is this woman expecting the relatives to say nasty things, or to say "WOW" or is she planning to say "WOW" herself when they say nasty jugdmental things? Can't tell.
Anyhow, here is CH's response:
Who knows, maybe they'll surprise you. I mean, what are they going to suggest, that you have an abortion? Aside from adoption, anything else they could be thinking is a ship that has clearly already sailed.

I can actually think of a number of things they might say, like, "you're an idiot," or "thank god you aren't marrying the idiot boyfriend."
Or, they might say "WOW" to suppress the urge to say "I feel sorry for your kid," or, "don't ask me to babysit."
Some of the comments on CH's column actually have better sense:
LW3 (Letter Writer #3) might remember that her conservative, judgmental family members are likely to be the only ones she has to turn to when her sperm donor disappears for greener pastures. Being a single motherhood is not a bed of roses even under the best of circumstances. Single mothers and their children need help from relatives. Becoming defensive and alienating potential sources of support will not help.

Carolyn's comment that "The ship has already sailed" strikes me as weird, because the ship is barely out of the harbor. This poor woman has no idea what she is getting herself into. (If she did, I doubt she would be taking this attitude toward her relatives.) The problems associated with single motherhood are legion. See for instance, here and here. This letter-writer sounds just a tad judgemental and self-righteous herself, for somebody who is embarking on such a high-risk life plan as single-motherhood.
I suggest bungee-jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. More thrills, and nobody gets hurt except the thrill-seeker herself.

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