Nobody wants to grow up without a father. No matter what Oprah Winfrey suggests.

After viewers turned off their televisions from Oprah’s Lifeclass last Friday, the cameras kept rolling and captured a scene where Oprah comforts an audience member who was balling in tears over feeling inadequate as a single mom.

“You’ve got to know that you are enough for your children,” said the media mogul, entrepreneur and philanthropist. “You are doing what so many women have done. You are living in the expectation and the dream that you had,” Oprah continued referring to the woman’s wish to raise her children in a dual-parent home.

Taken back by her kind words of encouragement, I started to think about Winfrey’s family history (or what we know). Oprah is a product of a single parent household and experienced much hardship during her childhood. She has built an entire business around her trials and tribulations. She is also not a mother. Not that this negates her ability to offer parenting advice, but her support does not go far when it comes to dictating what someone so far removed could suggest. Frankly other than business, Oprah is the last person I would take childcare or relationship advice from.

Parenting is always tough because there are no instruction manuals or how-to guides on how to be a successful parent. Trying to sustain an entire household alone can be even tougher. Growing up, I noticed my single mother face the internal struggle of if was she always doing enough for her children. Anyone who has grown up in this type of household will answer these questions the same. Was my single mother trying to raise three children enough? Sure. Could we have used more? Most definitely.

As a child I would never confess to anyone that I did not have a father. Although this is not logically correct, in theory it worked. Only my close friends knew about my situation at home and the struggles my mother faced daily. To me, the word father never existed, and still does not. Not having a father around can really mess with your emotions. Looking to see everyone else engage with his or her father puts life quickly into perspective. At an early age I soon figured out, I never wanted anything to do with my father. Not because my father wanted to be there, but because my father wasn’t there enough.

Between the many court appearances, paternity tests and countless missed holidays, I learned to accept the absence of my father. Once I reached a certain age, I lost hope of chasing that daydream. As the product of a single parent household, I noticed my mother do everything on her own. She was the only one providing financial stability for the household, making sure her children where emotionally and physically healthy, and balancing a full-time job. So living this life, I tip my hat to any hard working single parent trying to raise children.

It is no secret that in recent years the decline of households headed by married couples and the increase in households headed by single parents has been disproportionate. With the increasing trend of people having children outside of marriage— among other circumstances– more and more guilt surrounds women and their womb. I have experienced the struggles a single mother faces first hand. This observable fact challenges women to ask… are they enough for their children? Empowerment is one thing, Winfrey is great at, but it can be misleading at times. When it comes to placing the blame, I would advise to Oprah and others that we have to recognize the truth hurts. After listening to her sanguine advice, I can only give Oprah kudos for motivating the distraught mother. However, pending the circumstance, it can be very difficult and frustrating, being a single mother is not enough.

45 Comments

  1. I have had many beefs with things Oprah has said over the years,but this was not one of them? What would you have her say to the distraught single mother? If the emotional toll absent fathers have on children is your concern,perhaps a better title would be, “Why Being a Deadbeat Dad is Unacceptable”. Why address the women as if somehow they have failed as parents, when they are raising their children.

    The implication of articles like this is that somehow men have less responsibilty to their kids conceived out of wedlock. By the same token the implication is also that by bearing children out of the legal- religious institution of “wedlock” women fail their kids. The failure comes when people abandon their financial and moral responsibilities.

    I did appreciate your emotional honesty in this article. However,It would be nice to see a male blogger address the men, who are the most frequent transgressors of this kind of failure.

  2. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs. I really have a significant amount of admiration for hardworking and good single mothers (and single fathers).

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