Honoring Women Who Must Raise their Children Alone

A Feminist Critique of the Current Focus on American Father Involvement
Chapter
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 6)

Abstract

This chapter examines American policies seeking father involvement through the lens of feminist critique. While recognizing the important role of fathers, the author seeks to eliminate deficit-based stereotypes about the lives of single women and their children. Considering the rise in the number of American children born to single mothers and the problems faced by disadvantaged young men, the author challenges oversimplified assumptions that men will solve the economic problems of women. Ultimately, the author argues for a focus on the unfinished women’s revolution and the continued need for equal pay and child care support that will honor the capabilities and needs of women who must raise children alone.

Keywords

Bias Biological father Child care Child support Ethical language Family structure Federal government Feminist Gender bias Income disparity Inequality Poverty Racial disparity Single mothers Single parenting Social fathering Traditional family Unwed mothers Welfare reform 

References

  1. Albeda, R., Himmelweit, S., & Humphries, S. (2004). The dilemmas of lone motherhood: Key issues for feminist economics. Feminist Economics, 10(2), 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beetham, G., & Demetriades, J. (2007). Feminist research methodologies and development: Overview and practical application. Gender and Development, 15(2), 199–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burd-Sharps, S., Lewis, K., & Martins, E. B. (2008). The measure of America: American human development report 2008–2009. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Derman-Sparks, L., & Ramsey, P. G. (2006). What if all the kids are white: Anti-bias multicultural education with young children and families. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  5. Edin, K., & Kefalas, M. (2005). Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Berkley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  6. Edelman, P., Holzer, H. J., & Offner, P. (2006). Reconnecting disadvantaged young men. Washington: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
  7. Engle, P. L. (1997). The role of men in families: Achieving gender equity and supporting children. Gender and Development, 5(2), 31–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fagan, J., & Palm, G. (2004). Fathers and early childhood programs. Clifton Park: Delmar.Google Scholar
  9. Fennimore, B. S. (2000). Talk matters: Refocusing the language of public schooling. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  10. Garbarino, J. (1999). Raising children in a socially toxic environment. Boston: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  11. Gonzalez, N. E. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households and classrooms. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  12. Hochschild, A., & Machung, A. (2003). The second shift. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  13. Lamb, M. E., Pleck, J. H., Charnow, E. L., & Levine, J. A. (1987). A bio-social perspective on paternal behavior and involvement. In J. B. Lancaster, A. S. Rossi, and L. R. Sherrod (Eds.), Parenting across the lifespan: Biosocial dimensions (pp. 111–142). Hawthorne: Addenene de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  14. Moore, K. A., Redd, Z., Burkhauser, M., Mbwana, K., & Collins, A. (2009). Trends in Child Research Brief. Retrieved from http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2009_04_07_RB_ChildreninPoverty.pdf. Accessed on 5 April 2010.
  15. Neuman, S. B. (2009). Changing the odds for children at risk: Seven essential principles of educational programs that break the cycle of poverty. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  16. Perlesz, A. (2006). “Fathers” cannot easily be de-gendered: Response to Silverstein and Auerback. Family Therapy, 18(4), 93–97.Google Scholar
  17. Perlesz, A. (2004). Deconstructing the fear of father absence. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 16(3), 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Polakow, V. (2007). Who cares for our children? The child care crisis in the other America. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  19. Pruitt, K. D. (1997). How man and children affect each other’s development. Zero to Three, 18(1), 1–3.Google Scholar
  20. Reese, E. (2007). The causes and consequences of U.S. welfare retrenchment. Journal of Poverty, 11(3), 47–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Silverstein, L. B., & Auerbach, C. F. (2006). Valuing connection over disconnection: Response to Perlesz. Journal of Feminist Therapy, 18(4), 89–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Silverstein, L. B., Auerbach, C. F., Grieco, L., & Dunkel, F. (1999). Do promise keepers dream of feminist sheep? Sex Roles, 40(9, 10), 665–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sorensen, E., & Turner, M. (1997). Barriers in child support policy: A review of the literature. Retrieved from http://www.ncoff.gse.upenn.edu/content/barriers-child-support-policy-review-literature. Accessed on March 11 2009.
  24. Vandsburger, E., Harrigan, M., & Biggerstaff, M. (2008). In spite of all, we make it: Themes of stress and resiliency as told my women in families living in poverty. Journal of Family Social Work, 11(2), 17–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ventura, S. J. (2009). Changing patterns of nonmarital childbearing in the United States. (NCHS Data Brief No 18). Hyattsville: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Professional Studies in EducationIndiana University of PennsylvaniaIndianaUSA,

Personalised recommendations