Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family

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9780195179903: Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family

A remarkable number of women today are taking the daunting step of having children outside of marriage. In Single By Chance, Mothers By Choice, Rosanna Hertz offers the first full-scale account of this fast-growing phenomenon, revealing why these middle class women took this unorthodox path and how they have managed to make single parenthood work for them.
Hertz interviewed 65 women--ranging from physicians and financial analysts to social workers, teachers, and secretaries--women who speak candidly about how they manage their lives and families as single mothers. What Hertz discovers are not ideologues but reluctant revolutionaries, women who--whether straight or gay--struggle to conform to the conventional definitions of mother, child, and family. Having tossed out the rulebook in order to become mothers, they nonetheless adhere to time-honored rules about child-rearing. As they tell their stories, they shed light on their paths to motherhood, describing how they summoned up the courage to pursue their dream, how they broke the news to parents, siblings, friends, and co-workers, how they went about buying sperm from fertility banks or adopting children of different races. They recount how their personal and social histories intersected to enable them to pursue their dream of motherhood, and how they navigate daily life. What does it mean to be 'single' in terms of romance and parenting? How do women juggle earning a paycheck with parenting? What creative ways have women devised to shore up these families? How do they incorporate men into their child-centered families? This book provides concrete, informative answers to all these questions.
A unique window on the future of the family, this book offers a gold mine of insight and reassurance for any woman contemplating this rewarding if unconventional step.

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From the Back Cover:

Advance Praise for Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice

"Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice takes us on a thought-provoking journey with several single women facing the challenge of how to become a mother without a spouse. This is required reading for any single woman in her thirties who is concerned about the ticking of her biological clock." -- Jane Mattes, L.C.S.W., Founder and Director, Single Mothers by Choice

"In this important book, Rosanna Hertz examines the lives of adult women who have chosen to become single mothers. Too often studies of this kind offer a snapshot of a moment in time, but here Dr. Hertz gives us a movie--a sifting, changing and evolving portrait that takes us from the difficult moment of decision to the present, from anxious new mothers wondering whether they could do it, to women and their children who have written a different kind of family narrative." -- Lillian B. Rubin, Ph.D, author of The Man With the Beautiful Voice and Worlds of Pain

"In this page-turner of a book Rosanna Hertz follows the lives of middle-class single women who choose to become mothers without husbands or partners. Through vivid portraits and interviews, the romantic ideals and day-to-day complexities of single parenting come alive--all carefully portrayed within an historical and sociological context. This is a notable contribution to our understanding of how changing norms, changing technology, and changing laws are creating new family dynamics in modern America." -- Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, President, American Sociological Association

"Single mothers have been in the cross-hairs ever since Dan Quayle attacked TV's 'Murphy Brown' for 'mocking fatherhood' by having a child without being married. But Rosanna Hertz's fascinating in-depth study shows that the former Vice President was wrong. Today's Murphy Browns--middle-class, self-supporting single mothers by choice--are not trying to score ideological points. Rather, their commitment to motherhood survives the fading of their hopes for marriage. This is an important book that debunks the myths and stereotypes of a family type that is here to stay." -- Arlene Skolnick, Ph.D., co-author of Family in Transition

About the Author:


Rosanna Hertz is Luella LaMer Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies and Chair of the Women's Studies Department at Wellesley College. The author of the widely acclaimed More Equal Than Others, she is frequently interviewed by national print media on issues related to women, work, and the family.

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