Showing posts with label Single Mothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Single Mothers. Show all posts

Jan 13, 2014

NBA superstar, LeBron James, wrote a very touching tribute to his mother, Gloria, for Maria Shriver's Shriver Report. The purpose of Shriver's website is to shine a light on challenges that women have to overcome.  I really appreciates James' article because I too am a product of a single parent household.  I realize that there are some alarming things going on in our community as far as single parenthood is concerned, but I don't think you solve that problem by stepping on the necks of single mothers.

Here is what James wrote about his mother:

I am honored to participate in a project that is trying to help single mothers who are struggling to make a living and raise their kids, because that perfectly describes my mother when I was growing up. You think LeBron James is a champion? Gloria James is a champion too. She’s my champion.

My mother really struggled. She had me, her only child, when she was just 16 years old. She was on her own, so we lived in her mom’s great big house in Akron, Ohio. But on Christmas Day when I was 3 years old, my grandmother suddenly died of a heart attack, and everything changed. With my mom being so young and lacking any support and the skills and education necessary to get ahead, it was really hard for us.

We lost the house. We moved around from place to place—a dozen times in three years. It was scary. It was catch as catch can, scraping to get by. My mom worked anywhere and everywhere, trying to make ends meet. But through all of that, I knew one thing for sure: I had my mother to blanket me and to give me security. She was my mother, my father, my everything. She put me first. I knew that no matter what happened, nothing and nobody was more important to her than I was. I went without a lot of things, but never for one second did I feel unimportant or unloved.

Finally, when I was 9 years old, my mother made a supreme sacrifice. She decided that while she was figuring out how to get on her feet, I needed some stability in my life. I needed to stay in one place and experience the support and security that she had felt growing up in a big family. So she sent me to live with my pee-wee football team coach, “Big Frankie” Walker, and his family. She later said to me, “It was hard, but I knew it was not about me. It was about you. I had to put you first.”

I stayed with the Walkers for a year, and what a gift that was! I was in the same school all year, slept in the same bed all year, played on the same football team all year, and Big Frankie put me on my first basketball team. I saw my mom every weekend.

When my mother was able to rent a two-bedroom apartment with the help of a government-assistance program, I moved back in with her. We stayed together until I finished high school. The rest is history.

People always say I am devoted to my mother. That’s true, but only because for every minute of my life, she has been devoted to me. My mother taught me what devotion truly means. I have tried to pass along her example by helping kids who are growing up in single-parent homes through the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

After the Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship, the team was invited to the White House. Speaking about me, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, President Barack Obama said, “For all the young men out there who are looking up to them all the time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids and is there for them day in and day out, that’s a good message to send. It’s a positive message to send, and we’re very proud of them for that.1”

The truth is that everything I’ve learned about being a parent to my boys—9-year-old LeBron Jr. and 6-year-old Bryce—I learned from my mother. Everything I know about being loving and caring, and sacrificing and showing up and being present in my children’s lives—I learned all of that from her example.

Gloria James was a working single mother who struggled and got the job done.

And for that, I say, “I love you, Mom. Thank you.”


Apr 8, 2009

Can you believe 72% of black children born in 2007 were born out of wedlock in comparison to 51% of latino children and 28% white? That is astonishing and definitely worthy of some sort of discussion. Why are so many black women worthy of being given a baby, but not a ring? Wow!!!


(CNN) -- Had she been born a generation earlier, Kim Hoffman might have had a shotgun wedding. As it turned out, she and Steve Miller took the time to plan their dream nuptials -- outdoors, on an organic farm, and with their 10-month-old daughter in tow.

pre-marriage birth certainly wasn't what her father wanted for his only daughter, said Hoffman, of Oakland, California. But seven months into her relationship with Miller, the unplanned pregnancy simply changed life's course.

"We would have headed down this path. The pregnancy just accelerated things," she said of the couple's cohabitation, the birth of Sadie and their 2005 wedding. "It was the way it was meant to be."

Along with magazine-cover grabbers like Angelina Jolie and Bristol Palin, Hoffman, today a 39-year-old mother of three, is part of a now record-breaking trend of women who give birth outside of wedlock.

Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers, according to data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics. The 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births, of 4.3 million total births, marked a more than 25 percent jump from five years before.

Statistics such as these, which include for the second year in a row a bump in teen pregnancies, after a 14-year decline, leave Sarah Brown concerned. She worries about the children born to unwed parents -- about the disadvantages they often face, including increased likelihood of poverty and greater high school dropout rates.

"I wish people spent as much time planning when to get pregnant, with whom, under what circumstances as they do planning their next vacation," said Brown, the CEO and founding director of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "The stigma [of out-of-wedlock births] has eroded, and these numbers made me feel perhaps it's disappeared altogether."

That stigma Brown speaks of, however, isn't one that LaShanda Henry, 28, or the women in her family before her, would have known. Her parents never married. And her grandmother only had a wedding when she was in her 60s.

So when Henry, of Greenville, North Carolina, and her boyfriend of now five years, Jean Paul, had Christopher two years ago, there was no pressure to race down the aisle.

"Culturally speaking" taking vows wasn't expected, said Henry, who runs the Black Moms Club, an online social network, and the Web-only Mahogany Momma Magazine. "Do we want to spend that money on a wedding or a house? ... I guess it's about priorities. I was never one of those girls that dreamed about the wedding dress."

What she said about cultural differences and expectations might help explain some of the numbers. Other data released last month showed the percentage of unwed mothers differs from race to race. While 28 percent of white women gave birth out of wedlock in 2007, nearly 72 percent of black women and more than 51 percent of Latinas did.

"With the publicity of our first family," meaning the Obamas, Henry said in a discussion group entry, marriage might "slowly become more of a norm for all."

Henry's experience also echoes what Paula England, a Stanford University sociology professor, learned when she co-edited "Unmarried Couples with Children," which was published in 2007. That book traced for four years 50 unmarried couples, the majority of them black or Latino, that had babies in 2000, and the findings shot down some of her predictions.

England assumed many of the fathers would have high-tailed it out of the picture by the sixth month of pregnancy, leaving single mothers "truly single," the sociologist said. Instead, she found that in 80 percent of the non-marital births, parents stayed romantically involved and in 50 percent of the cases they were living together.

Still, the bulk of responsibility often falls to the mother. According to a 2008 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 9.8 million single mothers versus 1.8 million single fathers.

Support groups, such as Sisters Helping Sisters, exist to help single moms, providing them with resources, tips and empathetic ears.

Founded in 1997, the Kansas City, Missouri, program was the brainchild of Teri Worton Brooks, now 39. She was in her early 20s when she found herself with a baby boy to take care of on her own.

"I had no clue how to raise him and no clue how to better my life," she said. "But I knew there was a sisterhood among women. ... We could learn from one another."

The bulk of babies born to unwed mothers may be unplanned, but that doesn't take into account lesbian couples or women who've decided to go it alone. For many of them, the decision is the result of years of thought and emotional soul-searching.

When California Cryobank, which claims to be the world's largest sperm bank, opened its doors in the late 1970s, 99 percent of its business catered to couples grappling with male infertility, spokesman Scott Brown said. Now, that market in the sperm donor world accounts for less than 14 percent, according to projections by Charles Sims, the organization's co-founder and medical director.

About 50,000 women delivering babies each year are single moms by choice, said Mikki Morrissette, author of "Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman's Guide," and founder of the online resource Choice Moms.

Many of these mothers choose to tap known or anonymous sperm donors as the biological clock begins to pound. Perhaps they are like Morrissette, who divorced in her early 30s, wasn't in a hurry to jump into another relationship and decided to have kids on her own.

While she and many other single mothers by choice can afford this option, David Popenoe worries about the example they're setting in a society where children still benefit most from married parents, he said.

Other women might look at these single mothers by choice and say, "'So many people are doing it, why shouldn't I just go ahead?'" said Popenoe, founder and co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University in New Jersey. "It's part of a slippery slope."

Janet Kaufman wasn't looking to influence anyone else; her personal decision, after loads of research, became a "practical matter."

The University of Utah English professor was in her mid-30s, single and figured even if she met someone immediately it might be a couple years before she'd feel comfortable having a child with that man.

Her parents offered encouragement. In fact her father proposed the idea of a donor. And her friends stepped up in ways she described as "just extraordinary."

"I had some concerns and fears," said Kaufman, 44, who ended up marrying one year after she had a second child by the same anonymous donor. "But I felt like with the right kind of support ... somehow I would make it work."

After her daughter's arrival came the question of how to discuss this situation with a child. She found her answer -- talk about it early and often -- through someone in the widespread network, Single Mothers by Choice.

Kaufman began explaining before her daughter, and later son, could talk. She found books, bearing titles such as "A Family Like Yours," which she read frequently, and even penned a story of her own. She knew from the start that she would always be honest.

"I'm sure they'll have a lot of feelings as they grow up, but I don't want it to be complicated by my not being open with them," she said. "In communicating with them about their origins, I'm also communicating with them about me -- the hopes I had, the dreams I had ... It's important for them to know how much they were wanted."