Single women at Christmas

300px-JChristmas_painting

Here's to hearing angels on high all year long

Single women have pretty much the same array of choices for spending Christmas day as non-singles. Some will spend it with family, some with friends, some alone (e.g., the non-single woman who is estranged or separated from her mate—or wishes she was). Some will get Chinese food and see a movie, some will rest and read, some will clean or perform other chores.  Some will volunteer at soup kitchens. Some will exercise their creativity—cook, write, paint, play music.

Some, like me, will hang out with their grandchildren and see Christmas again through the eyes of the child. Some of us have spent hours planning, shopping, and wrapping. Some have foregone this practice and decided just to share themselves in some way.

Some of us, like me, who are moving, may be practicing the art of letting go—there’s a joy in releasing stuff to do good elsewhere in the universe. I’m pleased that I can give some of my treasured things to my family members this year. This Christmas I decided to do a little of each: “shopping” from my own possessions, wrapping, and writing about my move within Chicago.

Whatever you’re doing this year, try spending a few minutes every hour just stopping and feeling your feelings. Regard them with respect and tenderness. Send love and appreciation to yourself for all that you do, for all that you share with others, and for all you contribute to the world around you. And while you’re doing that, be sure to express your love to people and send appreciation out to all those who touch your  life.

Merry, merry Christmas to all the wonderful single women in the world. Extra good wishes to all the single mothers who work so hard to make Christmas special for their kids.

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Leave It to Beaver family values aren’t outdated

Leave it to beaver_Game_Board_01Watching an episode of the old Leave it to Beaver TV series from the 50s. Beaver is showing his mom some beautiful drawings he found in a sketchbook. Mom tells him they’re his father’s work. And Beaver decides he’ll ask his dad to draw his school poster for him. Mom, by the way, is dressed in an elegant shirtwaist dress with a ring of pearls adorning her slender neck and nonchalantly dabbing furniture polish on her perfectly clean rag and tenderly dusting the top of an elegant cabinet in the front hall. Looks just like the way most moms live today…not.

The lesson of the show was great. Kids need to do their own posters for school–not get their parents to do the work. But there was an interesting scene in the classroom. After two girls volunteered to dress dolls up in costumes of the American revolution, a boy raised his hand, too. The teacher sternly corrected the boy. “That’s not funny,” she said. “Everybody else thought so,” said the boy.

Makes me think of the changes that have gone on in our culture in the several decades I’ve been an adult. Interestingly, many modern parents who offer dolls to their young sons find the boys still tend to choose guns and tanks anyway—or at least dolls that turn into huge-monster fighting guys.

But the most beautiful part about Leave it to Beaver is how much the dad respects the mom. I’ve always remembered a quote I read years ago. “The best gift a man can give his children is to love their mother.” Beaver and Wally’s dad loved and respected their mom.

That’s one thing a child might miss when being raised by a single mom alone. But, oh, the wonderful things that baby may have with its single mom can be forces just as powerful–for the positive or the negative. It’s more about the mental health and self-esteem of the custodial parent, no matter what the marital situation.

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Singlism in college textbooks? Yep – read our guest blogger

textbooksDiscovered a cool Twitterer the other day, Jeanine, who writes about SinglePhobia. Having become a college student later in life—going for a second degree—she was surprised to find how negatively single people were presented in her university textbook. Happily, she agreed to contribute to our SWWAN blog…

“I recently took a social psychology course as an elective toward an undergraduate degree in sociology.  Our assigned textbook was Social Psychology by David G. Myers (ninth edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2008).  Myers is a prolific author of college textbooks, and I’d read another of his books for an introductory psychology class.  As I read more of Social Psychology, I began to notice that Myers seems to have a negative opinion of single people.

“Throughout the book Myers correlates being married with higher levels of health, happiness, success, and social status than for single people.  But rather than offer readers a range of views about marital status that supports critical thinking, Myers promotes one viewpoint and seems to denigrate single people.

“In the first chapter, Myers describes a correlation between obesity in young women and discrimination, and states that obese women’s unmarried status at the conclusion of the study – at age 31 – suggests that the women were discriminated against.  But does being unmarried at age 31 – or age 41 or 51 – necessarily indicate discrimination?  Is being single a negative indicator?

“There are volumes of scholarly research on happiness, life satisfaction, and loneliness in married, single, divorced, and widowed people, from many points of view.  But throughout the textbook, Myers only mentions research that supports his beliefs about marriage, and seems to find opposing views trivial.  Myers writes “the myth that single women are happier than married women can be laid to rest” without citing proof.  At times he sounds contemptuous, referring to unmarried people as “pleasure-seeking” and assuming that single people view marriage as being in “bondage,” “chains,” or a “yoke.”

“Myers also states that married people are more complex than single people, explaining that if a married person has a bad day at work, he needn’t fall apart, because his work self is only a small part of his identity.  According to Myers, “when our personal identity stands on several legs, it, too, holds up under the loss of any one.”   He concludes that a married person’s identity “stands on several legs” but that a single person’s identity stands only on one leg – his work life.  It is as if Myers assumes that single people have no other pursuits outside of work – nothing but four walls and the pursuit of mindless pleasure!

“Ironically, a chapter in which Myers disparages single people features a photo of the Delaney sisters, a pair of sisters who never married, and who each lived beyond the age of 100.  The text offers, “The Delaney sisters, both over 100, attributed their longevity to a positive outlook on life.”

“A social psychology textbook should encourage critical thinking about cultural beliefs, not reinforce stereotypes and suppress dissenting views.  College professors who assign this textbook should be aware of Myers’ biases and also assign texts that offer a range of representations of the lives of single people.

“In class we discussed the widely held belief that married people were better off in terms of happiness, health, and life satisfaction.  One student mentioned Jennifer Senior’s article about urban loneliness in New York Magazine.  I read the article and that led me to discover the Singles Studies web site at Berkeley, which led me to books that challenge anti-singles bias in academic research and popular culture.  Through further reading, I learned that certain studies that support Myers’ negative view of single people are flawed in terms of data, design, or interpretation, and that some of our culture’s assumptions about single people are based on flawed research.

Myers, David G.  2008.  Social Psychology (9th edition) http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073531898/information_center_view0

David G. Myers’ web site http://www.davidmyers.org

Alone Together, by Jennifer Senior http://nymag.com/news/features/52450

What a shame the textbook author has such a limited view of singles–I bet he doesn’t know any single women who are SWWANs! Like Jeanine’s writing? Follow her on Twitter

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Neither singles nor children should be the losers

Read this today about men versus women at work and the role of children in reducing productivity. And should fathers who put more hours in because they don’t ever have to take care of their children get promoted over women who do? Have to comment.

Children can indeed be distracting at work. But the welfare of America depends on the good care of future generations. Comparing watching a football game with make sure a child is safe and protected simply doesn’t make sense. Having said that, though, there’s no reason why men shouldn’t be able to bring their children to work as much as women. Why differentiate? A good questions is, how many men would be willing to risk what they might consider “damage” to their male image by showing up at work with a kid?

With 51% of women today being single–many of them single mothers who may not have any extra help at home–it’s crazy not to think of ways to help all people with children be as fully productive as possible. By the same logic, single people should not be expected to carry extra burdens at work. Yet they may need time off to care for a friend or relative and not be able to get it. That’s not right either.

It’s about valuing each individual and helping each other, not fighting over–to coin a phrase from When Harry Met Sally–“this is yours; that’s mine.” There’s a ton of room for improvement in our society’s attitudes about family policy.

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Have a kid, lose a job – the sad state of affairs for American moms and famliies

What an amazing organization! At Momsrising.org they are fighting all over the United States for legal rights and fair treatment for mothers of all kinds, single and married, who are discriminated against in the work place. According to their research, single moms make only 60% of what men make, even less than the average woman. Then adding it all up, female college grads forfeit a million dollars over their careers.

In the US, mothers and familiies receive less support than in any other industrialized country.

Parents must have time to bond with newborn or newly adopted. Bonding decreases infant mortality, improves child health, reduces juvenile delinquency. Yet only 1 in 7 US mothers receives paid childbirth leave. We are at the bottom in this area – US is on par with New Guinea and Swaziland.

Calif. is the only state that has mandatory 6 weeks’ paid leave for parents. The American Federation of Labor advocated for it there. It’s financed because Calif. workers agreed to pay through small payroll deductions.

I got this information and a cool DVD–The Motherhood Manifesto–about it from Kiki Peppard, a single mom who’s been fighting for 10 years to end discrimination against mothers in PA. She moved there from New York and no one would hire her when they found out she was a single mom!

Here are a few more points and some organizations worth knowing about:

Center for New American Dream – “More of what matters.” 4 day week, flexible hours. Time off for kid stuff.

Center for Work-Life Law. No benefits for part-timers hurts mainly women. Business in gen. will not address.

Once businessman learned he was unwittingly discriminating against women. His decision to give everyone flexible hours attracted new, stronger talent, turnover slowed dramatically. Business is great, costs are down.

We need legislation like European – equal treatment for part-timers and flexible hours. UK – soft-touch law, through which any employee can ask employer to grant a different schedule- compressed work week, etc. when need to care for child.

If we give workers flexibility, productivity does NOT have to go down.

The Motherhood Project- concerned about the media, US kids spend 8 hours a day connected. 1000 murders, doubled sexual incidents on TV, millions of children
home alone after school. More juvenile crimes up during times kids are unsupervised. Need more after-school programs. Seattle pays for buses to take kids home after scchool.

Health care. Medical bills figure in 50% of all bankruptcies. People without insurance are 2-3 times more likely to die of same disease as those with. 9 million US kids have no insurance. Life expectancy, mother/child mortality we are far below other nations. Should have all kids insured through program like Medicare. this plus paid sick leave would make a huge difference for mothers.

Center for Social Law/Policy. Children get better faster when parents are around. Only US does not require paid sick leave, incl. time to care for kids.

Childcare – quality matters.average cost of childcare is more than cost of university tuition. Average child care worker earns $17000/year. There’s a union for home child care providers in Chicago. The US once passed a universal child care bill–Richard Nixon vetoed it.

Equal Rights Advocates – fights for minimum wage.
Take Back Your Time – fights for well-rounded life rights.

A Better Balance – young lawyers on work/family conflict. More flexiibility, esp. for low-income workers.

The balancing Act – bill for Rep. Woolsey. Women’s #1 issue is no free time, not enough time.

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Mother's day a cry for peace

The woman who was responsible for initiating the celebration of Mother’s Day, Julia Ward Howe, had in mind a noble purpose when she called for women’s unity back in 1870–the start of the French/German war and a few years after the nominal end of the United States Civil War.

Today is a good day to share with you her impassioned cry for the mothers of the world to come together and end the reckless disregard for life and limb that is the horror of war. Our hearts–and all women give birth, whether to babies, ideas or both–may well be crying the same things today:

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”

Thanks to Cat Thompson of Emotional Technologies for sharing the mother’s day peace manifesto link.

God bless mothers today.

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Planning to have a baby

A certain percentage of women who are single today will never marry. Some will have long-term relationships and some won’t. Either way, unless they accidentally become pregnant, those who want to have a baby must make a decision at some point to take the plunge into single motherhood.

One single mom I know said she looked around and saw friends not making the decision until their late-30s—and then struggling with fertility issues. She decided she wasn’t waiting that long. If the right guy hadn’t shown up by the time she was 29, she was going for it. She became pregnant immediately via a donor. Then, after the healthiest pregnancy I’ve ever seen—and a delivery that was accomplished completely free of drugs of any kind—she’s now the overjoyed mom of a 9-month-old little girl.

For those who do want to wait, here’s an idea. Got an email the other day from a company called Repromedix. They are marketing a blood/hormone test product that is supposed to help you predict how many eggs you have remaining in your ovaries–considered one important sign of fertility—so you can make a more informed decision about when to try for a pregnancy.

The courage of today’s single women shines as a beacon of strength in our world. Given what many children go through when their parents divorce (1 of every 2 marriages ends this way), I cannot see being born to a single mom as tragic or awful. Too many studies have been done indicating that kids—and this includes boys—with single moms are no worse off socially and emotionally, and may even be far ahead in some measures. Check out Raising Boys: 10 Tips for Single Moms.

For those single women who choose to become moms, my congratulations on your courage. And may you and your children be a lesson in love for all the world to see.

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US not alone in rising number of single-parent households

Even though the tradition to have a regular family with lots of kids has been strong among Jews, times are changing in Israel as well as other countries. The number of single-parent families in Israel has doubled over last decade. At 7% of all families, the single-parent household is a growing minority (90% of those are women-headed).

Here are the rankings of countries in order of their number of single-headed households, according to an NII report:

  • United State ranked in first place with 16%
  • Canada followed with 11%
  • Finland, South Korea, New Zealand and Norway are ranked third with 9%
  • Australia, the UK, Austria and Portugal ranked fourth with 8%
  • Israel is fifth with 7%
  • Denmark, Spain and Switzerland came in at sixth place (6%), and
  • Germany, Greece, Japan and Luxembourg (5%).

The same forces seem to be at work in most countries–better pay and more opportunities for women are leading to fewer marriages and more women choosing to remain single after divorce or become moms on their own.

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The courage of single moms by choice

It takes courage of the first order to decide to become a single mom. You know that it’s going to be hard for both you and your child, but you know you have so much to give that the baby/child/adult will grow up certain of being loved and with a deep understanding and compassion for those who struggle.

I am very proud of my single daughter who made this courageous choice and was so healthy during her pregnancy that I feared she might have a 15-pound kid. She also delivered baby Sophia totally without drugs and is nursing her on demand so she will have the very best start in life.

Truly life will never be the same for my daughter or, delightedly, for me either. Another soul has joined us in this world to face what life gives, to learn and grow and love. What an honor to be able to share in that joyful adventure.

Couldn’t resist sharing this great photo of my beautiful new grandchild, taken by a professional pet photographer (who also happens to be her proud aunt).

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Single women: reach out and give without asking back

Give with your whole heart. Don’t ask for a return. Connect with each other–for business, for all the things we need in life.

That’s what celebrants at last night’s opening event heard from keynote speaker Sharan Tash, owner of The ProNetworker, Inc., NAWBO Chicago director, NSA speaker, and creator of the “pay-it-forward, boomerang networking” concept. Sharan told of how giving from the heart without thought of return always comes back to you tenfold.

As a shining example of practice-what-you-preach, Sharan, SWWAN thanks you for inspiring attendees at this celebration of the first annual Single Working Women’s Week holiday.

Hostess Monica Davis praised single women and single mothers for all they contribute. Thanks to all those who shared in this delightful evening, including sponsors Lynfred Winery and National City Bank. Special thanks to Rebecca Gutermuth, designer of the beautiful SWWAN jewelry line, who hosted the party at her lovely store, Radiance Fine Jewelry.

And special thanks to columnist and authoress Jacquee Thomas whose contributions made the event extra special. Passionate speaking, wine, food, violins, and sharing. It was a beautiful event. For a copy of the event’s program, click here. Photos will be posted as soon as we can get them up!

If you live in Cleveland, please join us for our Cleveland SWWAN party TOMORROW!

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