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Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice:
Interview with Rosanna Hertz

SearchMothers.com interviewed Dr. Rosanna Hertz, author of Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family.

Dr. Rosanna Hertz, Sociologist, Professor and Author offers a fully researched account of one of the fast-growing phenomenon among middle class women. She looks at the unorthodox path taken and how these women have managed to make single parenthood work in their lives.

In her book Dr. Hertz examines the lives of adult women who have chosen to become single mothers. The book provides an evolving portrait of women approaching this decision and this lifestyle. It looks at the difficult time of the decision on to the stage of anxious new mothers wondering whether they could do it all, to women and their children-- their family-afterward. Moreover, it explores how the concept of family is changing across America.

single mothers by choice
The book recently written by American sociologist Dr. Rosanna Hertz focuses on the phenomenon of Single Mothers by Choice option in the United States.

Answers are paraphrased.

Q: Who were the women who were interviewed?

I interviewed 65 women ranging from physicians and financial analysts to social workers, teachers, and secretaries. These women spoke about how they manage their lives and families as single mothers.

Some of these women were straight and some gay. Both struggled to conform to the conventional definition of what an American family was.

Their median income is about $66,000. These women are neither the poorest or the richest in America.

These women are "reluctant revolutionaries". They are transforming the American family and men and women's roles. They are women who did not see their individual choices as part of broader societal changes.

Some had chosen sperm donors instead of mates at that point in their lives. Some chose adoption. They are courageous to pursue this goal of motherhood, and in how they navigate their daily life.

Q: Has anything changed since you wrote this book?

When I wrote this book 3 out of 10 women were single mothers. Now the census finds that 4 out of 10 women are single mothers.

Many more middle class women are now having children on their own and not asking for money from the government.

Q: Why is this book important?

This book raises questions on the American family. There should be an urgent look by policy makers, by politicians, and by individuals.

The reality is that here are women who are doing this with one set of hands.

Q: What are the reasons women decide to make this decision and What do you think about these women who are making the decision of having children without a partner?

Some women make this decision because they think it would make their life more complete. Some think single mothers are selfish for having children without a partner. Sometimes I wonder if I would have had the courage to become a single mother. This was not a position I found myself in, but I imagine that I would have missed out on a lot had I not become a mother. The women in this study felt the same way when they made their decision. "Selfish" would have been to marry and divorce just to have a baby. They wanted to marry a soul mate forever even if that person came after the baby.

Some of these women make this decision because there are people who can help them in their support network, but are women who are not necessarily ones who would have asked for help. They made the decision to ask for help from others because they thought it was important enough to ask. They had very good support networks. They asked people for help, such as babysitting for a few hours, and didn't feel they always had to do everything themselves.

These mothers also made great use of their homes ---some by finding roommates who would become important in their life with their child. They discovered that great childcare is essential and the women were prone to treat their childcare providers like family.

Q: After doing this study and writing this book what are your thoughts on the future of marriage in America?

Heterosexual Marriage will continue to exist. But families all over the world are undergoing change. Both men and women are delaying marriage and remaining single longer--- into their twenties. However, this delay is beginning to bump up against women worrying about their ability to birth children.

The trend toward mothering without a man is becoming a more advanced idea and lifestyle in the United States. We are actually seeing single motherhood on the rise throughout the world.

Many women in the book would have preferred to be married prior to having a child --what I am calling "Plan A" --; but are opting for "Plan B" - motherhood before marriage, which is a change in the sequence of life-events in a conventional life---making a decision to have a baby before time ran out. It was not a permanent way to live. Some did find partners and marriage later on after the book was published and others did not.

Numbers indicate that the economically independent women do not need men or marriage to be mothers today.

Perhaps some men might feel afraid upon perceiving that those families are successful and that some women are making the decision to be mothers like this, but this does not signify that they are trying to destroy the paternal function.

These women are not anti male, they often go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that there are male figures in the lives of their children.


About the Author

Rosanna Hertz is also the author of the widely acclaimed More Equal Than Others. She is often interviewed by media on issues related to women, work and family.


Interview: S.Matteo, Editor SearchMothers.com

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