Legal Momentum strongly objects to the support expressed by the New York Times for the sexist and misogynistic notion that single mothers cannot and do not raise well-behaved children. This is the patent falsehood expressed in their article, “Obama vs. Poverty,” the cover story in the August 19, 2012 print edition of the Times Sunday Magazine now available online. The male writer quotes another male as saying, “If you don’t have a father figure in your life, you don’t have discipline and structure, and without structure, you don’t have anything. You have chaos.” The article then states, “This analysis has support from many of the academics who study [poverty],” yet the author mentions no other viewpoints – even though many experts disagree strongly.
Half of all U.S. children spend at least some part of their childhood in a single mother family, just as President Obama did. Most of these children are well behaved, do well in school, and grow up to be productive workers, good parents, and responsible neighbors. It is true, as the article says, that some children in single mother families, like some children in single father families, and some in coupled parent families, will be permanently scarred by the deep poverty that far too many U.S. children experience. However, the problem is not single motherhood – it is the flawed social policies that allow child poverty to persist in the U.S. at much higher rates than in other high-income countries.