Carolyn Hax: Decision to raise child alone requires honest self-evaluation

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
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By Carolyn Hax
Saturday, May 15, 2010

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Dear Carolyn:

I am 33, single and about one iota of certainty away from deciding to get artificially inseminated. The thing really stopping me is that no one in my life supports this decision. Reasons range from "you're too young to give up on finding a husband" to "you're too busy to raise a child alone." I have thought about this for a long time and feel relatively sure, but the fact that everyone who loves me is so against it really bugs me. Can you help me separate the valid dissent from the less valid stuff?

New Jersey

All you can do is take each dissenting opinion, see if you have an answer that isn't a rationalization, then make your best decision from there.

It's very difficult for any of us to spot our own rationalizations, because we're the ones we're trying to snow, which usually makes our efforts particularly effective -- but it can be done.

In this case, look for specific (vs. general) counterarguments. "You're too busy," they say -- so, what's your response? Is it specific -- "I spend two hours in the gym when I can easily quit after 45 minutes, or work out with videos at home"? Or is it "People always find time when they need to"? Is it, "I can cut my two-hour commute to 30 minutes if I move to the neighborhood I've researched that's close to work and several reputable child-care providers" or is it, "The commute isn't that bad"?

World-class denial will withstand this scrutiny, of course. But you get the idea.

This test-my-logic method is also strictly about weighing criticism as objectively as you can; I'm not suggesting you use it to knock down your last iota of doubt. You need to heed your own reservations -- and challenge your own reasoning -- far more assiduously than you do anyone else's.

Dear Carolyn:

Hate to add to the pile-up on single motherhood, really, but as the parent of a special-needs kid I feel a need to point out that kids don't always come made-to-order. I am in a good relationship with a healthy partner co-parenting my child, but I have had to give up literally everything else in my life to provide for my son's daily care. It would be impossible to do this as a single person. Please don't think that being artificially inseminated protects you from this possibility. There aren't tests for everything.

Yes, there are places to warehouse special-needs kids for people who don't have other options. But they are nowhere you'd really want your kid to spend his/her childhood. If you have piles of money, you can make single parenting work. If you don't have that and/or the village, or are so uncertain that you're writing to an advice columnist, well, continue to think on it . . .

Pittsburgh

You aren't piling on, you're posing a question every prospective parent should answer: Am I ready to get what I want, or am I ready to get what I get? The former is dreaming, the latter is parenthood. Thanks for weighing in.


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