Moms like to fly solo
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Moms like to fly solo

Several women today are opting to be single mothers. A look at what is prompting this trend, where the father figure is absent.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2004 13:20 IST

A world without men, as suggested by Steve Jones in his book, Y, might be an alarming thought for some, but there are an increasing number of women who are trying to rid their personal space off males. Although homosexuality is one way to ensure a chappie-free life, many women are now trying another route and becoming single mothers by choice.

The reasons vary from a clicking biological clock to not wanting an interfering man in their lives or simply to fulfill a personal goal. Sushmita Sen currently lives on "no-man-land" with her adopted daughter Renee. Why single mom hood? She explains in an interview, "As Femina Miss India, I saw so many poor children and from so close, that I wanted to adopt a girl child. It took me years to get one." Her status as single mother has provoked much curiosity, which she seems to enjoy as it gives her a chance to talk about her baby. "I am not like the conventional mother. I don't say don't do this, or don't do that. I let her have a mind of her own. I let her eat what she wants, and when she wants."

Bharat Natyam dancer Pratibha Prahaladalso wanted to adopt a child but the laws weretoo difficult so she decided to have her own child through medical intervention. She reportedly said, "You can get married when you are 100, but beyond 35 it is risky to have children. I was pushing 35 and feeling lonely despite a flourishing career."

Suchitra Rekhi, a social worker in New Delhi, attributes the increasing number of women entering motherhood without partners to a movement away from the "social norm that a man is required for parenting, or that having children without a man made the woman a 'failure'."

The majority of women who choose single parenthood, says Rekhi, want to experience motherhood fully but either have not had the opportunity, time or resources to meet the man they would want to spend their lives with or feel otherwise unable to make a lifetime commitment to a partner. Perhaps that isthe reason why the young and unmarried Raveena Tandon decided to become mum to two teenage daughters who she adopted several years back.

Advances in reproductive technology, as well as improved career opportunities for women, also factor into the increase in women making the choice to enter parenthood solo. Those who choose to adopt are finding agencies are more willing consider financially secure single women as adoptive mothers. Bhartiya Samaj Seva Kendra, which is based in Pune, operates a single mother's program, which provides accommodations, counseling and pre- and post-natal care for about twenty single mothers. Also, there is Vathsalya Charitable Trust in Bangalore, which provides a short-stay shelter for single mothers offering pre- and postnatal care.

Nirmal Roy, a single mother of two points out that although single motherhood has its stresses, there are several advantages too, "single moms avoid the need to discuss and negotiate around key parenting issues ... she can shape a child in her own unique vision."

Sen corroborates the view. She has reportedly said, "You don't have to worry about somebody else's views on raising your child. You are in control and that's great for the child who doesn't grow up to be confused."

That's all fine and dandy, but what about the children? Says Anjali Tripathi, 24,who's mother walked out of a bad marriage when she was 10 years old. "It was quite traumatic for me. I would keep blaming my mother for not working things out with dad.But as I grew up, I realised that the decision was for the best. I see my friends who come from "intact" homes, but their parents fight all leading the child to suffer from innumerable insecurities."

Prahalad has said that although she isn't quite certain how things will shape up with her twins, she prefers to cross the bridge when she gets to it.

Reema; a single mothersays, "Although it is perfectly alright to bring up a child on one's own, single mothers face several difficult problems while doing it. It is difficult not to be possessive about the child you have brought up. Though I don't wish to pit my son against his own father, neither am I very happy with idea of letting him be close to his father."

First Published: Mar 08, 2004 10:55 IST