Single parenting is not child abuse

Story by Taylor Kuether

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Single parenthood is not child abuse. But according to State Senator Glenn Grothman (R.-West Bend), it is.

Grothman recently proposed a bill requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse
and neglect.

Grothman defended his thinking, saying that if Wisconsin is going to fund a program like Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board (really, Glenn? Would you prefer we not fund such nonsense?), the Board needs to spend that money on emphasizing single parents as contributors to child abuse.

“I guess as long as this state is going to fund a group called the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, at least that group could use the money that they have to publicize something that’s politically incorrect, but I think has to be said in our society,” Grothman said at a hearing about the bill a few weeks ago.

“It is a 1950s view and I’ll tell you I think in the 1950s we had a lot less problems than today,” Grothman said in an article on Milwaukee’s TMJ4 website.

Well, Glenn, your 1950s mentality is dangerous and backwards. Society progresses; it doesn’t regress.

Today, one-third, or about 31 percent, of Wisconsin households with children are run by a single parent, according to datacenter.kidscount.org. The majority of those single parents are women.

Grothman claims child abuse is 20 times more likely in households headed by single parents, and that fathers are more likely to prevent such abuse. Now, that’s just insulting. Grothman is insinuating that women abuse their children unless the biological father is there to step in, which is a ludicrous, offensive and grossly inaccurate claim to make.

I don’t know from experience, but I’m sure single parenthood is hard enough without being told you’re abusing your children just by being single. Grothman’s stance is also unfounded: family structure doesn’t affect the growth and performance of a child as much as a communicative, loving and connected environment. Such an environment can be created no matter how many parents a child has around.

Grothman’s bill attacks the very structure of the modern family. We as a society have grown beyond the nuclear family of the 1950s. Families are larger, smaller, broken, blended, non-traditional and sometimes run by same-sex parents. That doesn’t make a family any less of a family, and it says nothing about the kind of children those parents will raise.

While Grothman’s bill is an attack on parenting, it’s also an attack on women.

In the following statements, I am not implying that all single parents are parents of unwanted children; they are not. But shaming single mothers seems unreasonable if you’re also going to make contraceptives difficult to attain and abortions illegal. Women are not being given options other than single parenthood, and now single parenting is going to be legally frowned upon?

I’m sorry that everyone’s lives can’t be Norman Rockwell paintings, Glenn, but don’t you dare attack single moms. I guarantee they’re doing the best they can, and I bet their children would agree.

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