My parents divorced when I was ten. For the first five years, I had the experience of living with a single mother, and the last five with a single father. My experiences are merely my own personal case study. Not every single mother or father is like my parents, but having experienced both, having also learned of the unequal nature of men and women, I’m left with the conclusion that if one had to choose to send their child to live with one parent that men would be the better chance of success, for reasons. I know this flies in the face of feminism and female empowerment, and the culture at large which supports single-motherhood, but when has that stopped me before? Alrighty, let’s do this.
The core of my argument comes down to this: there are things that only a mother can teach their daughter or son, and things only a father can teach. Second, what a daughter gets from her father/mother is strikingly different than what a son gets from his father/mother. The sexes send different lessons to their offspring and each sex has a psychological blind spot that they simply cannot overcome. While the ideal is to have both of these influences simultaneously, and single parenting makes the best of a less-ideal situation, there are advantages and disadvantages to which sex does the single parenting.
The benefits and drawbacks will all make much more sense by putting the dynamics into a matrix. Disclaimer: this analysis makes a lot more sense on the assumption that each family scenario started intact but ended with a divorce partway through the child’s development into adulthood. It doesn’t necessarily apply to single families at the start, with children being born into that situation.
The obvious first: mothers teach their daughters about feminine gender roles from the most superficial like wearing makeup to more advanced lessons like social conduct. Mothers also teach their daughters how to navigate the female social matrix. The Red Pill Room did an extensive piece on the female social matrix that is definitely worth reading. In short, women deal with each other in a network that is overtly egalitarian but covertly hierarchal. In front of the group, they’re all equals, but behind each other’s backs there is a soft hierarchy that is determined by backroom alliances, underground consensus, and adherence to group rules. This is something that men just simply cannot grok and it is one of the things that only a mother can bestow.
With the family organized as a matriarchy, the daughter feels the full force of female power, which isn’t usually composed of outright displays of dominance but small jabs of passive-aggressiveness. If the mother understands and respects her power, the struggle between mother and daughter is relatively tame. However, the feminine imperative for safety and control can use that power to turn the matriarchy tyrannical, causing the daughter to feel the full force of feminine ostracism and shaming.
So while the power structure of the matriarchal family depends on the personality of its leader, a foundational problem of the single mother household is the lack of a father figure, or sometimes a chaotic father situation. Young women get their impressions of men from their interactions with their fathers. They see dad act a certain way and expect those qualities from their boyfriends and husbands. Good fathers leave a good imprint, while bad fathers leave a negative imprint. Some women in abusive relationships expect to be abused because their fathers did it, and they believe that that’s just what men do. It’s normal for them, and, unfortunately, they know of little else.
Without a father figure, there is no imprint, no expectation of what men should be. So how does a woman choose a mate without a filtering mechanism? Friends and family could show her the way, but there is large room for error. She could get the impression from mom’s boyfriends that transient men are the norm. If those men are scumbags then she could expect horrible things as a given. Stereotypes exist for a reason, and archetypal stripper with daddy issues exists for that reason.
This is probably the biggest hurdle that a single mother faces, and there is a little room for error and disastrous consequences if it happens.
Just as fathers leave an imprint on daughters as to what their boyfriends should be, the mother leaves an imprint on their sons as to what women should be. Children who do not have a good attachment to their mothers tend to have psychological problems later in life, and this is especially true for sons. A son needs to have an adequate concept of the caring aspects of the feminine. You know the stereotype that woman-haters have mommy issues? Well…
However, even with a good mother to support her son, the mother’s knowledge of the female social matrix is totally lost on him. I’ll go out on a limb and say that men don’t have the mental wiring to see the innuendo inherent in female social networks. We just don’t get it, because we don’t have to get it. Thus, the main benefit of a mother figure to daughters is unnecessary to their sons.
The biggest disadvantage the mother/son association has is that there is simply no male role model to show the son how to become a man. TV is a poor substitute. The mother’s new boyfriends fair better, but there is a barrier of apprehension between a son and mom’s new boyfriend. The boyfriend doesn’t see the kid as “his”, and is less likely to get involved while the son cannot form an attachment to the new surrogate like he could with his father. And given that a boy imprints his expectations of women from his mother, what kind of psychological chaos does a new boyfriend bring to the arrangement? The new boyfriend is not only a stranger, but, in the mind of the son, he is also a new source of competition. (And if you were to ask Freud, he’d say a source of sexual competition.)
The boy is left completely ignorant of the nature of women in ways many of us could once relate to. A mother isn’t going to give up the secrets of the feminine mystique to her son, that is if she even understands herself well enough to articulate them and, even if she did, what makes anyone think she’ll train him on finding the right woman, or more importantly defending yourself from the wrong one? What motivation does she have to throw her kind under the bus or reveal her deepest, darkest secrets to her son? The likelihood of a mother giving her son some real-talk is slim.
And finally, it’s incredibly difficult for a mother to keep order as the sole authority figure when, by the early teens, her son is far taller and stronger than she is. Authority without power is no authority at all, and it is why being raised by a single mother is a strong predictor for adolescent crime.
The mother/son scenario is probably the worst setup in the matrix because, aside from necessary parental attachment, a son has no male role model, no masculine identity, no insight into the nature of women, and no strong authority figure to instill a rigid set of ethical guidelines. He is the perfect vessel to become an omega male.
While women tend to assert their authority through passive means, males/fathers are more direct in establishing boundaries of acceptable behavior. They are the authority figure that sets up rules to contain the chaos. If these rules are reasonable then it conditions an ethical framework in the child, no matter the sex. The greatest benefit for daughters, however, is that with a good father she can form positive expectations of what future men should be. If he is a positive force in her life then she will not settle for less.
The downside to this arrangement is that, without female influence, the daughter is behind the curve in navigating the female social matrix or learning femininity. However, don’t write off the father/daughter setup yet. Women are adapt at building large social networks, so it’s possible to find that influence through her friends or her friend’s mothers, or even from her father’s girlfriend. Women are more open to female strangers than men are to male strangers, and I have no doubt that dad’s new girlfriend would be more accepting than mom’s new boyfriend. Obviously, exceptions exist but I believe that is the general rule.
Despite not ideal conditions, the father/daughter dynamic can still make it through better than the reverse mother/son situation.
To put it simply, this arrangement plays to everyone’s strengths. The son doesn’t need to navigate the female social matrix, so the missing lesson from his mother hurts no one. As long as he received the proper care from her early in life and the separation did not take place when he was a toddler, parental attachment shouldn’t take a heavy hit (though it could).
If his father holds sufficient wisdom then the son can learn how to be a man, or at least what it means to be masculine, and can potentially learn how to interact with woman as a man, learned from a man who has interacted with women. Such information could not possibly come from a single mother.
This is not without precedent. In many cultures, the idea of separating a young man from his mother to be led under his father was the norm rather than the exception. One could say that it is the natural course of manhood.
Also, dad bringing home a new girlfriend isn’t as traumatic for the son compared to his mom bringing home a new boyfriend, because a boyfriend for mom is competition while a girlfriend for dad is not. The feeling of ownership a son has for his mother, as a caregiver and prelude of female relations to come, is multitudes stronger than a son has for his father. Thus, a son can tolerate a dad’s new girlfriend or wife, making family formation easier.
The main downside, however, are the implications of severing the son’s ties with the mother figure. The first relationship a young boy has to the female sex is through his mother. Going even further, the first relationship any human has is to their mother. Breaking that bond too early can cause trauma for young boys. For adolescents and young teenagers, the problem with separation isn’t as pronounced. Again, this very thing was expected of young boys in many cultures as a rite of passage and historically isn’t beyond the pale.
All of this, of course, depends on the quality of the parents and children involved. The best single mother could overcome the hurdles of raising a son with better results than the worst single father doing the same (and vice versa), but, all things being equal, some situations are better than others.
Mother/daughter – moderate success, depending on quality of parent
- Good: has necessary female influence for development as a woman.
- Bad: lacks a stable father figure to base expectations of future men
Mother/son – poor chance of success unless purposeful strategy is involved
- Good: baseline caregiving
- Bad: no male role model
Father/daughter – moderate success, depending on quality of parent
- Good: can form expectations of future men
- Bad: disadvantaged at learning to navigate female peer interaction
Father/son – high chance of success, depending on age of the son
- Good: can learn masculine virtues and the nature of women
- Bad: severing ties with the mother can cause problems for young boys
The single father setup is the most advantageous for boys, while a boy being with his mother carries no real advantages and many more hurdles. Young girls can potentially do well in either situation, even with their fathers, because the particular disadvantages a young girl faces without a mother can be overcome by the networking with other women. So, in my view, if both parents are of equal caliber, then there’s less chance of failure by siding with the father.
I know that this will never happen since it goes against our cultural and legal framework, and is apt to hurt some feels, but it is the conclusion that my experience and intuition point me to. Feel free to comment if your experiences align with my assessment, or even if they go against. Let me know if I’m missing something, whether what I’ve said is wrong or incomplete.