I recently had an opportunity to read an article that featured a young woman I’ve known since high school. In it, she discussed her journey to single motherhood. She was quite candid and described the experience as heart-sickening and lonely at moments but, overall, incredibly wonderful and fulfilling.
Though I thought she gave a fantastic, honest and open interview, many of the comments on the article were critical of her decision to become a single mom and while that disappointed me, I wasn’t surprised. As progressive as we are as a society, out-of-wedlock birth is something we still collectively frown upon. What left me absolutely astonished though, was that none of those comments said anything about the father of her child, who impregnated this young woman then opted to marry someone else just months after the baby was born.
That observation left me wondering just why we’re allowing men to completely abdicate any sort of responsibility they have to the families they’re creating. Guys can always “have love” for the women they’ve impregnated but have no interest in marrying her, and we have absolutely nothing to say to him.
I realize the days of the shotgun wedding have come and gone, but should men feel no pressure to become a family with the women they have impregnated? I’m not suggesting that you must be bound to a person with whom you have nothing in common and low-key despise for the rest of your life, but, don’t you owe it to your unborn child to at least try? And if men decide that they don’t want to “try” with the mothers of their unborn children, do they just get to walk away unscathed by the shame we dole out to single mothers as long as they’re “involved” in their children’s lives and promise to “co-parent?”
I worry that we’ve made it far too convenient for men to just walk-out and do what’s best for them. I worry that we “dap-up” Tom Bradys for impregnating Bridget Moynahans, then quickly moving on to marry Gisele Bundchens. Sure, little Bridget should have known better, but what should have been her first clue? When he only said “I love you” twice, during their last unprotected sexual exchange? What radar does Bridget—or any woman for that matter—have that will go off and alert her that today is the day he’s going stop loving her and no longer wants to try?
And there he goes, out of the door to find his “Giselle,” while leaving a woman and a newborn baby behind to fend for themselves and create their own family. Yet, it’s the woman who we decide to shame for becoming a single parent? She’s the one who should know better. Personally, I’m not comfortable with shaming anybody but if we only decide to shame one party in these instances, perhaps we need to look the other way.