I was watching CNN a few weeks ago, and the talking head’s guest listed being from a broken home as being one of many reasons why some young American man turned into a jihadist and killed people in Canada. This type of report had unfortunately become background noise, as I was afraid to turn it off for fear of missing some piece of this story that would affect me locally, but not really listening as I tried to focus on my own day to-day happenings. So, these endless news stories turned into Blah, Blah, Blah… Ebola…Blah, Blah, Blah… chemical weapons, blah… Syrian border….
Blah blah, blah, drug use, broken homes, blah… What??? My antennae rose as I heard this violent bloody crime being attributed to the criminal being from a single parent home. As a single mother for the past 11 years, this really struck me as unfair? Maybe so. More likely, it is something that is deeply scary and should be for all of us. Drawn to do further research on the potential connection between children of divorce and criminal behavior, I am hopeful of a lack of statistically significant data, because as a society where the divorce rate hovers around 53%, these are numbers where we, as a society, and me, as an amateur sociologist, truly need to focus. Is this some magic hidden answer to the issue of crime? Could this statement by a tv personality be both irresponsible for a society and heart breaking for all the single parents out there who work tirelessly to make up for all that they think their children lose when a divorce occurs. For many like myself, who have overcompensated for all that has been lost, I hope and pray that no such connection exists. Unfortunately, there are pages and pages of research online that suggest there is indeed such a connection. There is, it appears, a further connection to the single mother and poverty and that connection to poverty and commission of criminal activity is also reasonably clear.
As a single mother who has indeed watched my own savings greatly diminish, that connection to poverty is indeed of concern. This has been one of my greatest fears over the last decade; that in some way, my decision to divorce would negatively impact my children. I wonder now, as I did years ago, whether being in a healthy single parent home is healthier than being in a fucked up two parent home.
I walk away from my cursory research upset, though for a different reason. If the connection between single parent homes and divorce is as established as the CNN reporter and the resources seem to say, then shouldn’t we think very carefully about how we can best protect the parties who are in most cases, the primary care givers of children of divorce – the mother? Public policy suggestion or thoughts of a rambling single mother?