Single Mothers and Conservatism

 

shutterstock_209614678I would like to pose two questions to my follow Ricochet members: What should be the conservative answer be to unwed single mothers? How should the GOP/Conservatives support existing single mothers (to include widows, separated, divorced, unwed)?

I think we have a tendency to focus on the origins of the issue of single mothers — such as the rise of the welfare state and the sexual revolution — without addressing how we would support those single mothers that need help today. Social Conservatives are pro-life, pro-motherhood, and pro-marriage. However, the Left perpetuates the stereotype that Conservatives are not supportive of single mothers, and it works for them politically. In the 2012 presidential election 75% of single mothers voted for the Democratic ticket.

So what say you, Ricochet? Should we cede that portion of the electorate to the Democrats and to likely dependence on the state? I believe we can do better than that.

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  1. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    The issue is larger than that.  Since you phrase it in fairly quid pro quo terms, I would think it’s a losing deal to assume a responsibility, big-government style, to support a demographic which is probably not going our way no matter what.  It is not as though single mothers are some steely-eyed amoral economic bloc interested only in the bottom line one election at a time.

    Broad conservative principles indicate limited assistance for a limited time.  Dependence upon the government is not a way of life that fits easily with conservative prescriptions.

    • #1
  2. Jojo Inactive
    Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    Thing one: we should conspicuously not celebrate single motherhood by choice.  And, hard as it seems, the kindest thing in the long run is probably to eliminate government entitlements for single mothers by choice who are not living with the father.  I wouldn’t have the guts because there would be hardship cases, but it would help young women make better decisions, help the father understand he is needed, help the mother appreciate the father.

    I don’t think this issue should be framed in terms of trying to woo a voting bloc.

    • #2
  3. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    V.S. Blackford:So what say you, Ricochet? Should we cede that portion of the electorate to the Democrats and to likely dependence on the state? I believe we can do better than that.

    Don’t talk about it. Yes, cede that portion. We can’t.

    Not meaning to be glib but, the trade-offs needed to honestly or even dishonestly confront the issue in the short term are too distasteful to be seriously considered.

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @TheChuckSteak

    They shouldn’t be supported by the government. If the issue is we will lose this group or that group because we aren’t giving them stuff then we lost them. With this kind of thinking we should all be liberals. No one has the right to the earnings of another. If we are really interested in helping single women who have a hard time supporting themselves and their children, then we need to be benevolent and help them ourselves instead of creating another entitlement. No one wants to see anyone suffering or on the street regardless of who they are. And the best way to do that is to win the battle for free markets and have great economic growth. Charity can only ever be a temporary solution. The government making charity permanent through programs makes their sad situation permanent as well. The Democrats pay single women to stay poor or lose their checks. That is the incentive. That is evil and in no way should we adopt that approach.

    • #4
  5. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Conservatives do support single moms, of course.  We (uh, the menfolk that is) marry them.

    You know what they say about babies.  Most of them take nine months, but the first can come at any time.

    • #5
  6. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    TheChuckSteak: Charity can only ever be a temporary solution. The government making charity permanent through programs makes their sad situation permanent as well.

    There is thorny ground here. What counts as making charity permanent? Does tax exempt status for civil institutions count as coercion towards permanence?

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @TheChuckSteak

    Vice-Potentate:

    TheChuckSteak: Charity can only ever be a temporary solution. The government making charity permanent through programs makes their sad situation permanent as well.

    There is thorny ground here. What counts as making charity permanent? Does tax exempt status for civil institutions count as coercion towards permanence?

    No. Letting an institution keep money they raised isn’t government anything. It means the government is out of it completely which is the way charity should be. The government forcibly taking money from people for cause x or y whether they want to give it or not is a whole other matter.

    • #7
  8. V.S. Blackford Inactive
    V.S. Blackford
    @VSBlackford

    The issue can be framed as political.  I want to tackle both issues, but I think the social impacts of single motherhood are more pressing.

    Social conservatives are pro-life.  We encourage women who have an unplanned pregnancy to have their children.  However, we are seen as frowning upon those who are unmarried when they have their children.  Those who are pro-life cannot encourage women to have their babies without being there to support them through the whole process.  This is where civil society comes into play.  Churches, private organizations, etc.  As a conservative, I would like to see more solutions at the state/local level.

    I do not want to cede a portion of the population to government dependence, especially on federal programs.  The more successful single mothers are, the better chance their children have at leading successful lives, the better off our society will be.

    Many single mothers face the following challenges:

    -Jobs that are not flexible to their situation

    -Lack of access to good child care
    -Need for more education/training

    • #8
  9. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Vice-Potentate:

    TheChuckSteak: Charity can only ever be a temporary solution. The government making charity permanent through programs makes their sad situation permanent as well.

    There is thorny ground here. What counts as making charity permanent? Does tax exempt status for civil institutions count as coercion towards permanence?

    Civil institutions like single motherhood?  Maybe you’re on a different topic.

    • #9
  10. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Holy Cow!  Main Feed in record time!

    • #10
  11. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    TheChuckSteak:If we are really interested in helping single women who have a hard time supporting themselves and their children, then we need to be benevolent and help them ourselves instead of creating another entitlement. No one wants to see anyone suffering or on the street regardless of who they are. And the best way to do that is to win the battle for free markets and have great economic growth. Charity can only ever be a temporary solution.

    I agree, though I’d add that we also need to be more conspicuous about it.

    On other the other hand, the issue really does put us in a catch-22. As Son of Spengler put it in another thread:

    Son of Spengler:

    This seems to me like one of those cases where what is best (most compassionate?) for the individual is detrimental to society. An unmarried mother is in a difficult spot, and we want to help her. It makes sense to go after the father for financial support — but if that is the case, it is immoral to deny him a say in how the child is raised.

    The result is that an individual woman who gets pregnant outside marriage is better off than if she were on her own. However, on a societal level, it creates a kind of safety net that reduces the incentives to wait until marriage before risking pregnancy. So society stumbles toward a suboptimal situation in which marriage becomes rarer and baby daddies become more common.

    If this is correct — and I suspect it is — it really does put us in a bit of a conundrum.

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @TheChuckSteak

    V.S. Blackford:The issue can be framed as political. I want to tackle both issues, but I think the social impacts of single motherhood are more pressing.

    Social conservatives are pro-life. We encourage women who have an unplanned pregnancy to have their children. However, we are seen as frowning upon those who are unmarried when they have their children. Those who are pro-life cannot encourage women to have their babies without being there to support them through the whole process. This is where civil society comes into play. Churches, private organizations, etc. As a conservative, I would like to see more solutions at the state/local level.

    I do not want to cede a portion of the population to government dependence, especially on federal programs. The more successful single mothers are, the better chance their children have at leading successful lives, the better off our society will be.

    Many single mothers face the following challenges:

    -Jobs that are flexible

    -Child care

    -Education

    Being pro-life doesn’t then make one obligated to support a child that isn’t their responsibility anymore than being pro-abortion makes one obligated to pay for abortions. People make choices and the rest of society should never be on the hook for those choices. Making the issue State or Local vs Federal doesn’t make it any better. The state robbing you for something you don’t support instead of the federal government robbing you doesn’t make it any less of a robbery or an infringement. People of all kinds face all kinds of challenges. It is up to charities, individuals, churches, etc. to help get someone on their feet.

    • #12
  13. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Stop paying for it.

    Paying more for antisocial behavior will only breed more antisocial behavior.

    I would rather pick up the poor minority men who goto jail for the crime of being poor than this demographic.

    • #13
  14. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    I think that many of us interpreted your questions in the context of politics, especially national politics.  I did.

    Of course I whole0heartedly approve of community solutions, charities, and I’m nearly agnostic on aid programs government outside the federal circus.

    • #14
  15. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    TheChuckSteak:If we are really interested in helping single women who have a hard time supporting themselves and their children, then we need to be benevolent and help them ourselves instead of creating another entitlement. No one wants to see anyone suffering or on the street regardless of who they are. And the best way to do that is to win the battle for free markets and have great economic growth. Charity can only ever be a temporary solution.

    I agree, though I’d add that we also need to be more conspicuous about it.

    On other the other hand, the issue really does put us in a catch-22. As Son of Spengler put it in another thread:

    Son of Spengler:

    This seems to me like one of those cases where what is best (most compassionate?) for the individual is detrimental to society. An unmarried mother is in a difficult spot, and we want to help her. It makes sense to go after the father for financial support — but if that is the case, it is immoral to deny him a say in how the child is raised.

    The result is that an individual woman who gets pregnant outside marriage is better off than if she were on her own. However, on a societal level, it creates a kind of safety net that reduces the incentives to wait until marriage before risking pregnancy. So society stumbles toward a suboptimal situation in which marriage becomes rarer and baby daddies become more common.

    If this is correct — and I suspect it is — it really does put us in a bit of a conundrum.

    It’s the Tragedy of the Come-ons.

    • #15
  16. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Guruforhire:Stop paying for it.

    Paying more for antisocial behavior will only breed more antisocial behavior.

    I would rather pick up the poor minority men who goto jail for the crime of being poor than this demographic.

    Well there’s an allegation worthy of its own thread.  i.e., not this one.

    • #16
  17. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    V.S. Blackford:Many single mothers face the following challenges:

    -Jobs that are not flexible to their situation

    -Lack of access to good child care

    -Need for more education/training

    Good points. Some thoughts:

    • This is among the reasons the fight against ObamaCare and other mandates is so important. It makes it more difficult for employers to hire people who can’t commit to a normal work week, such as single moms.
    • As member Midget Faded Rattlesnake has argued, this is among the reasons we should oppose unnecessary credentialism. In many states, it’s essentially impossible for someone — say, a single mom — to (legally) run a childcare business to look after her friends’ kids; the red tape is just insane.
    • And this is among the reasons why we should stop subsidizing education the way we do, which only encourages colleges to jack-up their prices and water-down their degrees.
    • #17
  18. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    It’s the Tragedy of the Come-ons.

    Well done, sir. :)

    • #18
  19. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    TheChuckSteak:

    Vice-Potentate:

    TheChuckSteak: Charity can only ever be a temporary solution. The government making charity permanent through programs makes their sad situation permanent as well.

    There is thorny ground here. What counts as making charity permanent? Does tax exempt status for civil institutions count as coercion towards permanence?

    No. Letting an institution keep money they raised isn’t government anything. It means the government is out of it completely which is the way charity should be. The government forcibly taking money from people for cause x or y whether they want to give it or not is a whole other matter.

    I must say I agree with you. But the argument that different rates of taxation, in this case 0%, is a form of coercion has been made before. If that point is conceded, that low taxation is coercion, then you are left with coercion towards charitable action that leads towards dependency. It doesn’t seem easy to me to disentangle the two.

    • #19
  20. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    TheChuckSteak:

    It is up to charities, individuals, churches, etc. to help get someone on their feet.

    Which means eliminating the welfare state that’s displacing these things. Before welfare there was more charity than the entities knew what to do with.

    • #20
  21. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    As a social case worker, and at one time with a case load of 120  “unmarried minor mothers” there has only been one response in this thread so far that even hinted at understanding the problem. Not a one of those girls planned to get pregnant, not a one of them expected their boyfriends to abandon them, and not a one of them expected their parents to put them out of their homes as “immoral, damaged goods.”  And not a one of them considered abortion.

    Please don’t get me started until you truly understand the problem.

    • #21
  22. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    It’s the Tragedy of the Come-ons.

    Well done, sir. :)

    Thank yuh!

    • #22
  23. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Prevent unintended pregnancies.  That means lots and lots of sex education and free birth control.  But somehow I don’t expect conservatives to get behind this solution.  Go figure.

    • #23
  24. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    V.S. Blackford:The issue can be framed as political. I want to tackle both issues, but I think the social impacts of single motherhood are more pressing.

    Social conservatives are pro-life. We encourage women who have an unplanned pregnancy to have their children. However, we are seen as frowning upon those who are unmarried when they have their children. Those who are pro-life cannot encourage women to have their babies without being there to support them through the whole process. This is where civil society comes into play. Churches, private organizations, etc. …

    ….

    First, I think churches do support unwed mothers in various ways. The Catholic Church does, anyway.

    Second, are we really frowning or are we simply failing to applaud, coddle, and lionize? My general sense is that it’s the latter. However, there’s also nothing wrong with frowning as a default position. It should be frowned upon because it’s not good for anyone. Sure, there are sometimes circumstances out of a person’s control – latent alcoholism or abuse for instance, or early death of a spouse. In what % of instances is that the case, though? How many can truly claim that they didn’t see any of it coming? Otherwise, help already exists for those who want it, for those who realize that they themselves need to make a change first. Hell, there’s already help available for those who won’t ever change. What else do you have in mind?

    • #24
  25. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    Single motherhood is not a new problem, though it has greatly increased of course.  In the early 19th century, single women who gave birth were asked about the paternity of the father during labor, a time when it was thought they wouldn’t lie.  Fathers were held accountable for the children they fathered and were expected to support them. Local communities enforced this.  Now that paternity can be determined for certain, I wonder if it wouldn’t work to hold fathers to account.  I know that many fathers are also welfare dependent, but what if the benefits of such men were withheld, or, if they are working, they were required to support the child, even if only with a percentage of what they earn?  In other words, enough to hurt.  The problem is that we don’t want to harm children by punishing their feckless mothers. We should do all we can to assure children have good lives, and at the same time we can’t take babies away from mothers.  Feckless fathers who are not living with women and children can better afford to be hit in the pocketbook, which would make them think twice about scattering baby mamas around the country.  We don’t want men pressuring young women to have abortions, though, so there is that to think about.

    • #25
  26. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Kay of MT:As a social case worker, and at one time with a case load of 120 “unmarried minor mothers” there has only been one response in this thread so far that even hinted at understanding the problem. Not a one of those girls planned to get pregnant, not a one of them expected their boyfriends to abandon them, and not a one of them expected their parents to put them out of their homes as “immoral, damaged goods.” And not a one of them considered abortion.

    Please don’t get me started until you truly understand the problem.

    And not a one of them balanced their risks appropriately, which is a failure of society, family, whomever to prepare and support these girls at a vulnerable time in their lives.  Many of us understand the problem.  Focusing on only one side of the issue will yield destructive solutions.

    I’m not blaming or even being judgmental.  Just stating facts, which will not go away no matter what other facts may accompany them.  Those of us saying that “what gets rewarded gets repeated” are not advocating a “starve them out” mentality.  Rather, (I) just want to avoid throwing open a door to more abuse of an already abused system.

    You are speaking specifically of minors, which is a bit more narrowly tuned than the OP, so the responses here are only partly applicable.

    • #26
  27. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @TheChuckSteak

    Kay of MT:As a social case worker, and at one time with a case load of 120 “unmarried minor mothers” there has only been one response in this thread so far that even hinted at understanding the problem. Not a one of those girls planned to get pregnant, not a one of them expected their boyfriends to abandon them, and not a one of them expected their parents to put them out of their homes as “immoral, damaged goods.” And not a one of them considered abortion.

    Please don’t get me started until you truly understand the problem.

    That’s life. Unplanned stuff happens. People don’t plan on lots of things. People don’t plan on getting sick or being in a horrible life altering accident. People don’t plan on being a victim of some violent crime. People don’t plan for their spouse to cheat on them. People don’t plan for all kinds of bad life altering things. But that doesn’t give them a right to other people’s stuff. It is their responsibility as free people to do what they can to improve their lives in the face of bad circumstances with the help of those who willingly give it if need be.

    • #27
  28. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    noBall Diamond Ball: #1 “I would think it’s a losing deal to assume a responsibility, big-government style, to support a demographic which is probably not going our way no matter what. ”

    I have to believe that those women are voting to protect themselves and their children.  They have shifted the burden off of themselves and to another entity (the state).

    A fair number of the women who visit the local Saint Vincent de Paul Society at my parish have had a number of children with a number of different men.  They don’t seem to have any realization of what they are doing (eg, no examination of their lives or consciences), but they do recognize the need to care for the children that they have.

    They are the flotsam and jetsam of a culture which no longer recognizes the value of marriage.  Rather that culture now recognizes Uncle Sam as the breadwinner.

    We normally associate the word “conversion” with a religious experience, however the meaning of that word is not limited to religion, albeit that we have long associated marriage and religion in the western culture.

    Perhaps appealing to the fact that those women need assistance but would prefer that their children don’t have to go through the same wringer of dependency that they themselves have gone through might be a catalyst for change?

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @TheChuckSteak

    Larry3435:Prevent unintended pregnancies. That means lots and lots of sex education and free birth control. But somehow I don’t expect conservatives to get behind this solution. Go figure.

    Anyone can afford birth control if they really want it, and everyone who is old enough to have sex of their own volition knows how babies are made. Having baskets of condoms and birth control pills on every corner courtesy of the taxpayer is not a solution. The government has no business supplying this stuff and the state shouldn’t mandate a free people to learn about sex.

    • #29
  30. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    V.S. Blackford: I think we have a tendency to focus on the origins of the issue of single mothers — such as the rise of the welfare state and the sexual revolution — without addressing how we would support those single mothers that need help today.

    That’s a distinction without a difference.  We do not presume to change the past, so we can only operate on a “from here on out” basis. What we do today has consequences tomorrow.  Subsidies beget subsidized behavior, broadly speaking.

    • #30

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