An Unwed Mother for QuayleRICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS
Some readers may remember the squall over Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown.
readers may remember the squall over Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown. At that time
Maggie Gallagher published anon the op-ed page of the New York Times “An
Unwed Mother for Quayle,” and it deserves not to get lost in the memory hole of
yesterday's news. Ms. Gallagher, too, is a journalist and unwed mother, but in
the real world. After ten years as an unwed mother, she has some thoughts on what
it takes. For women thinking of raising children outside marriage, she says, it
Richard John Neuhaus
- Have relatively affluent parents who got and stayed married
themselves. That way you can rely on their marriage, rather than your own, to
give your child the emotional and financial emergency support system he or she
- Be able to choose a profession with flexible hours that
allow you to take time out and work from home, and be sure to get an Ivy League
- (This one is especially tricky.) Find a boss who
doesn't mind if you bring a sick 4-year-old and his dinosaurs to the office, which
will happen regularly.
- Accept that, even if you make a good living,
you are going to have far less money than anyone you know except for other
- Expect to give up all the advantages of single
life freedom, romance, travel and receive none of the advantages
of marriage emotional, logistical, and financial support.
for the nights when your child cries himself to sleep in your arms, wondering
why his father doesn't love him. (If your child is allowed to express his real
feelings, there will be many such occasions.)
The evidence that marriage
is the best social program ever invented for raising children is overwhelming.
A single woman with all the resources and assistance available to the privileged
will soon discover the pain of a child's awareness of the irreplaceability of
a father. Gallagher writes: “As Murphy Brown would find out if she were a real
person and not a Hollywood fantasy, children not only need a father, they long
for one, irrationally, with all the undiluted strength of a child's hopeful heart.
To raise one's own child without a father may, at times, be a painful and tragic
necessity, but it should never be just another lifestyle option...We have to stop
pretending that all choices are equally good that single motherhood is
just an alternative family form and that fathers are just another new disposable
item in the nursery.” St. Augustine somewhere writes about the undiluted longing
of a child's hopeful heart with respect to another Father. The two, we suspect,
are intimately entangled in ways that surpass our understanding.
Richard J. “Public Square.” First Things 29 (January 1993): 59.
with permission of First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life
published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, 156 Fifth Avenue, Suite
400, New York, NY 10010. To subscribe to First Things call 1-800-783-4903.
Richard John Neuhaus is Editor-in-Chief of First Things. He is the author
I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning, The
End of Democracy?: The Celebrated First Things Debate with Arguments Pro and Con
and "The Anatomy of a Controversy, Death
on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross,
Second One Thousand Years: Ten People Who Defined a Millennium, Evangelicals
and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission, The
End of Democracy?: The Judical Usurpation of Politics, The Best of "The Public
Square": Book One, The
Best of "The Public Square": Book Two, The
Chosen People in an Almost Chosen Nation: Jews and Judaism in America,
Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America.
1993 First Things