Middle-Class Single Mothers

By Kay Steiger

Emily Brazelon has an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about women who are single, middle-class, and mothers. It is, she says, the return of Murphy Brown. She cites some statistics that show that single motherhood among the non-impoverished is rising, “the birthrate for unmarried college-educated women has climbed 145 percent since 1980, compared with a 60 percent increase in the birthrate for non-college-educated unmarried women.” But here is where the discussion of non-college-educated single mothers ends.

Typically, when single mothers come up in the public debate, what people mean is mothers of a low socioeconomic class that are typically women of color. They can’t afford child care, or get work that might allow them to afford it. They’re more likely to live in poverty and their children struggle to succeed in school. Instead, writes about middle-class women that — gaspchoose not to have husbands. These women struggle with dating, not paying the rent on an hourly wage. It seems silly to accuse the Sunday magazine of publishing a story about the rather elite, but they’ve done it again.