Bioethics Blogs

Reflections on Father’s Day from a “Single” Mother

by Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

Today on Father’s Day, as I miss my own father who has been gone for 17 years now, I am reflecting on my decision to intentionally become a single mother. I think about all of the ways my father shaped the woman I am today and how he is the one who gave me the courage to become a mother with or without a husband or partner. He is the one who gave me career advice, dating advice, took me to get my first prom dress (and even my first bra). He was a straight shooter, never mincing words or sugar coating things but always enveloping me in love and support. From him I learned that each and every one of us has the power to take any decision we make and turn it into a good one –hence, the choice to be a single mom. The plan was to do it with the help of both my mom and dad, but he passed away before I mustered the courage to face my infertility head on and seek out a reproductive endocrinologist. Thankfully, Mom was and is by my side every single day.

While I never have and never will regret this decision and the choice has, in fact been a good one, I sometimes step back and ask myself . . . how could I deprive my daughter of all that I gained from my father? How would we manage Daddy/Daughter Dances and, days like today, Father’s Day? These questions, however, seemed trivial when a few years back during an Obama/Romney debate, Mitt Romney said: “But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.