For Single Moms: In Search of Alternative Narratives

S. L. Writes has embarked on a new series, this time on Single Parenting. I aim to break down the “broken” home stigma and build up the credibility and credence of single-parent households. I want to offer encouragement and empowerment for single moms in particular, but for single dads too.

Nothing inspires this first post more than my longstanding weariness with the stories (narratives) about single moms leading to the demise of society. I tired of the same old bedtime fairytales that drowned out the true story that I lived and the true stories I witnessed others living every day. I always asked, as recently as this month, Where are all the stories about successful single moms? Where’s all the research and study about how single moms can achieve success? These narratives are much harder to find than the slanderous propaganda of Moynihan-esque tale-tellers.

I suppose we’ll have to tell our own stories.

“And so I tell myself my life.” ~ Nietzsche

I actually wanted to call this post “Alternarrative,” a word synthesized from alternative and narrative that looks and sounds like alternative. I thought it was clever, but that might be the geek in me. I googled the word and realized I wasn’t so original either. There’s actually a blog named “alternarrative: we are what we tell,” on which I spotted the Nietzsche quote.

To present an alternative narrative (sometimes called a counter-narrative), I must establish the mainstream narrative that I oppose. How do I accomplish this without giving the mainstream narrative yet another space to contaminate?  We’ll see if it’s possible.

Mainstream Narrative that has Infected the Attitudes of Many People:

Single-parent families are toxic to society because they drain public resources through welfare, create teenage parents who suck up more resources, produce juvenile delinquents who endanger society and suck up more resources when they’re thrown in jail, and result in masculine women and effeminate men, which causes further breakdown of the traditional nuclear-family pattern and sustains the cycle of poverty and brokenness.

In “How to be the Best Single Parent You Can,” Shellee Moore explains one the emotional effects of the mainstream narrative and suggests a response to the narrative.

“Broken home.” This is a derogatory label that causes much pain and misunderstanding. Too often, children living in single parent households have to contend with negative stereotypes and hurtful remarks made by insensitive adults…. As adults – teachers, coaches, neighbors, family, and friends, we can change our attitude, be more sensitive and compassionate, and recognize that SINGLE PARENTS RAISE GOOD KIDS TOO!


Let me brag for a sec by saying I am one of those “good kids.” I’m not bragging on myself, but I’m bragging on my mother who raised three children as a single mom (two girls and one boy). Nothing in the mainstream narrative reflects our experience…nothing.

It’s time to offer families other alternatives to “doom and gloom.”

For anyone in search of alternative narratives, I offer my life and the lives of those I know. I don’t know how many blog posts it’s going to take to transcribe the epic that has been brewing in my spirit for the past two decades (I don’t like to go over 800 words a post) but I’m in it for the long hall. I hope you’ll visit often and recount your own stories, offer advice and tips, or just ruminate.

Love, Sarah L. Webb

What’s in your hand?