Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman's Guide


The comprehensive guide for single women interested in proactively becoming and being a mother—includes the essential tools needed to decide whether to take this step, information on how best to follow through, and insight about answering the child’s questions and needs over time.

Choosing Single Motherhood, written by a longtime journalist and Choice Mother (a woman who chooses to conceive or adopt without a life partner), will become the indispensable tool for women looking ...

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Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman's Guide

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The comprehensive guide for single women interested in proactively becoming and being a mother—includes the essential tools needed to decide whether to take this step, information on how best to follow through, and insight about answering the child’s questions and needs over time.

Choosing Single Motherhood, written by a longtime journalist and Choice Mother (a woman who chooses to conceive or adopt without a life partner), will become the indispensable tool for women looking for both support and insight. Based on extensive up-to-date research, advice from child experts and family therapists, as well as interviews with more than one hundred single women, this book explores

• common questions and concerns of women facing this decision, including: Can I afford to do this? Should I wait longer to see if life turns a new corner? How do Choice Mothers handle the stress of solo parenting?
• what the research says about growing up in a single-parent household • how to answer a child’s “daddy” questions • the facts about adoption, anonymous donor insemination, and finding a known donor • how the children of pioneering Choice Mothers feel about their lives

Written in a lively style that never sugarcoats or sweeps problems under the rug, Choosing Single Motherhood covers the topic clearly, concisely, and with a great deal of heart.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618833320
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/20/2008
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 815,076
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

MIKKI MORRISSETTE is a Choice Mother of two and a longtime journalist. She has been both a writer and an editor at Time Inc. and has written and edited special projects for the New York Times. She is now married and lives with her family in Minneapolis.

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Read an Excerpt

I was one of the lucky ones. Before I became a Choice Mom, I was oblivious to the issues that many Thinking Women face. I didn’t worry about whether I could afford it, because I had a high-paying job. I didn’t worry about whether I could handle the stress of solo parenting, because I assumed that I could handle anything. I didn’t grieve the fact that I was embarking on motherhood without a lifetime partner, because I had never been a fan of convention. So I was lucky—at the start, anyway. Ignorance can be bliss.
Shortly after I became pregnant I started to freak out about whether I would actually like being a mother. Maybe I’d been foolish to think it was the logical next step of my life . . . maybe I was supposed to stay solo, traveling and writing and having experiences as a lone wanderer in the universe. Wouldn’t my life stop if I was locked inside four walls changing diapers and, ohmigod, actually preparing three meals a day, and helping someone else turn into a person who had experiences? Bump.
After my daughter was born, in that first year of often lonesome, scary motherhood I discovered many moments of sadness that I wasn’t sharing her development, and mine, with someone else. My local friends were single and childless, with no real interest in being part of my motherhood journey. My family was literally a thousand miles away. I didn’t have a childhood dream of “husband, wife, and kids” to grieve, but I found myself grieving something I couldn’t even define. Bump.
After three months of unpaid leave, I was ready to return to my well-paid job—only to learn that I was being “eliminated.” CRASH!
Talk about a rude awakening to the realities of life. In hindsight, I’m happy I was oblivious beforehand to how much my life would change. After talking to more than 100 women about their struggles in reaching this decision—and their struggles after—I understand how lucky I was to avoid many of the typical concerns before Sophie was born. Although I had no regrets about being a Choice Mom, my hard-won lessons about the bumps in the road made it more difficult to make a decision the second time. It took about two years of inner debate before I chose Choice Motherhood again, and Dylan was born.
Today’s Choice Mothers feel less stigma about their decision than did pioneers of the 1980s. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice. Women today tend to focus less on whether having a child will be seen as “legitimate” for her and the child, and more on whether the decision itself is a legitimate one: Will I have the strength and energy to be a good mother? Do I have the financial, emotional, and support resources to pull it off? Should I wait a little longer to see if life turns a new corner? If you’re struggling with some of the typical “Should I?” conflicts, the next four chapters have been written to help you through.
“Am I Single-Mom Material?” looks at some of the most common reasons women hesitate as they contemplate this choice.
“Can I Afford It?” explores the number one issue of concern, finances, based on results of an informal survey I did in 2003.
“Grieving the Childhood Dream” includes personal stories of women who came to this decision reluctantly, having dreamed for years of raising children with a lifetime partner.
“Will My Community Accept Us?” examines the disapproval women have faced from family, friends, and other members of their local network. It also revisits the national conversation Vice President Dan Quayle launched in 1992 about Choice Motherhood when he decried the TV show Murphy Brown for mocking the importance of fathers.

NOTE: These are very common concerns. While the material here is ultimately reassuring—so many women have addressed them and gone on to Choice Motherhood—there are many more women who have chosen not to become a single mother because of these questions. Listen closely to yourself.

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Table of Contents

STAGE 1: TYPICAL INNER CONFLICTS • 1 1. AM I SINGLE-MOTHER MATERIAL? 5 Can I handle it? Do I have the proper motivation? Is it fair to the child? Do I have enough resources to be a good single parent? . . . transitioning to motherhood 2. CAN I AFFORD IT? 22 Spending habits . . . childcare costs and tips . . . big-ticket expenses . . . long-term issues . . . the cost of conception 3. GRIEVING THE CHILDHOOD DREAM 43 Living with grief . . . choosing to wait . . . getting to the roots . . . when you keep walking 4. WILL MY COMMUNITY ACCEPT US? 60 “You are selfish” . . . why the opposition? . . . why do we care? . . . helping the child . . . . revisiting the Murphy Brown vs. Quayle debate

STAGE 2: IS IT FAIR TO THE CHILD? • 83 5. THE IMPACT OF A SINGLE-PARENT HOME 85 What the research says . . . portrait of a successful single parent . . . how Choice Moms succeed . . . moral parenting 6. GROWING UP WITHOUT A FATHER 115 The skepticism . . . two loving parents . . . balance . . .
gender identification . . . self-control . . . kids’ perceptions of fathers

STAGE 3: CHOOSING THE METHOD • 139 7. KNOWN DONOR: PROS AND CONS 141 What can go wrong . . . what can go right: child’s identity and medical history . . . questions to ask and understand . . .
reflections on being a known donor 8. USING DONOR INSEMINATION 171 Alphabet soup . . . the ethics . . . open-identity option . . .
who are the donors? . . . choosing a donor . . . the process 9. CHOOSING ADOPTION 201 Thinking about age, race, special needs, contact with birth family . . . expense . . . finding assistance . . . the home study . . . transracial adoption

STAGE 4: DAY-TO-DAY PARENTING • 229 10. DEALING WITH THE STRESS 231 How to reduce stress . . . how do we handle it alone? . . .
the difference a partner makes . . . tips for the caregiver’s soul . . . having two 11. ANSWERING THE DADDY QUESTION 259 Answering what kids really want to know . . . basic dos and don’ts . . . age-appropriate expert advice . . . when kids meet donor dads 12. CONFRONTING IDENTITY ISSUES 282 Why it matters to the kids . . . typical ages and stages . . .
the donor-conceived child . . . the adopted child . . . the transracial family 13. HOW TO RAISE A WELL-BALANCED CHILD 313 Meet the experts . . . the basics . . . understanding the child . . . community . . . mutual respect . . . authoritative parenting . . . the four-point game plan . . . raising a boy

STAGE 5: THE LEGACY OF CHOICE • 337 14. OF POLITICS AND POLICY 339 Who gets to try? . . . “I was turned away five times” . . .
who can be a donor? . . . taking it to court . . . rights around the world . . . changes in adoption . . . where gays and lesbians need not apply . . . insurance . . . how marriage policy pertains 15. HOW ARE THE KIDS TURNING OUT? 365 Social development . . . effect of stigma . . . will Choice Kids marry? . . . the mothers’ perspectives . . . strengths and weaknesses . . . conversations with Kyla, Greg, Cambra, Laurabeth, Ryan, Grace, Zac

Conclusion: Connecting the Dots 394 Notes 405 Resources 420

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book for a Thinking Woman

    I have to say this book was my rock when I needed it. It was a really easy read and had all aspects of the process including a huge section on all the pieces you should at least think about. I would recommend this to anyone (though I bought it used from B&N, hence the Value rating of 5).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2006

    Informative and helpful book for single mothers by choice

    Single motherhood is a profoundly life altering decision. This book helps women considering single motherhood by choice to take a realistic look at their options and the possible complications and difficulties. The interviews with 'grown - up' children is a bonus and fairly reflects the perceptions of the majority of the children raised by single moms by choice. Single moms by choice or by chance will also want to check out The Complete Single Mother, recently published in a completely revised third edition.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 29, 2011

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    Posted May 9, 2011

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    Posted January 22, 2010

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    Posted March 20, 2010

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