Cheryl is right - and, yes, single parents often do a better job
- Credit: PA
Why not have a child alone if you can't find the right partner, says Rachel Moore. And anyway, single parents do better than miserable couples every time
That beacon of hope over experience, First Dates, was back this week with a parade of eternal optimists hoping to find the person of their dreams in front of a nation of viewers.
People with lots love to give having a go in the last chance saloon to seek someone to walk through life with.
There's often more than a sniff of desperation; that maître d' Fred will deliver the long-sought path to build a family and sprinkle magic happy-ever-after fairy dust over their sharing pudding.
Owl-fanatic Krystal and undertaker James both wanted children but had never found the right person. James' new career had focused his thoughts on dying alone and wondering how long it would be until someone noticed he was gone.
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Perfectly logical that they turned to dating experts to find them a perfect match. Let's hope they did.
Now happily dating, we would love them to have found the Ms/Mr Right person and not Ms/Mr Will Do, and to start a family before it's too late.
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But coupling to have children feels as outdated and of another time as a tin of Spam and television servicing.
This week, the singer who now wants to be known as simply Cheryl (formerly Cheryl Cole) was lambasted for being 'selfish' for wanting more children as a single parent.
After splitting from the father of her son, Bear, Liam Payne, she is flying solo on the 24-7 demands of parenthood, so why would giving Bear a sibling and bringing him or her up alone selfish?
Lone parenting is the toughest situation for any woman or man, in some ways. In others, it's the most rewarding.
Increasingly, single women – and men – in their late 30s and 40s are wrestling with the issue. Do they or don't they grab the chance to become a parent while they still can, but on their own?
I have friends in their late 30s and early 40s. They are single, successful, busy, fun, vibrant big-hearted people with large networks of friends who yearn to become mothers.
They have never 'settled down' – how I loathe that phrase – because it has never happened. They feel the chance of becoming a mother slipping away.
What to do? I've witnessed their conundrums. Whether they have their own baby or adopt a child alone or forgo the chance of parenthood? Or are they being too fussy in their choice of partner and should they settle for someone because they share the desire to be parents ? Never.
The danger of settling – with their fingers crossed behind their back and rose-tinted glasses - is that it will disintegrate because it's not right and they'll end up as solo parents, or worse, an estranged parent.
Life is long. Living with a person for life who doesn't entirely float your boat because you might have children is a recipe for disaster.
These women are not willing to settle but believe they have much to give a child by themselves, with their large support networks.
Is that any more selfish than any other reason to have children?
Families come in different shapes. It's about the love, time and parenting of that child, not the shape of the family.
Selfish and parenting is a contradiction in terms. It's impossible to be a one parent and selfish without a charge of neglect.
Lone parenting is exhausting and tough. There's no one to ask 'can you just?', share baby's first step, discuss the minefield of issues every parent faces, the frustrations, anxieties and reassurances.
But there's no one to undermine your parenting style, bring conflict into the home and, if brought into the world by a lone parent, they're spared the pain of separation in a broken-down relationship.
It's not about depriving children of a second parent; it's about added-value of the one they have.
In an interview, Cheryl said a friend had two children using donors.
She puts it perfectly. 'You can spend ages looking for the right man, waiting for the perfect time to get pregnant, then the right man might turn out to be the wrong man.' And the other way round, of course,
Listen to the products of lone parents who find success paying credit to their mother/father for their job.
Cheryl's choices aren't on a par with Becky from Bowthorpe – money matters. She can afford help. But love, time and attitude matter more
Let's face it, it takes a near on miracle to make marriages work nowadays, especially when children are involved.
Marriages break up because one parent, usually the mother, focuses on the children to the detriment, often in the other partner's eyes, of him or her. They feel neglected and down the family pecking order – not an obvious jealousy but left out and less significant.
Parents often do it alone anyway; partners work away, feel disengaged. And then there are the rows about who does what and division of work.
A single happy fulfilled parent is better than a resentful unhappy one in a relationship for the sake of convention and public expectation.
Who really cares as long as everyone in that family is happy and functional?
Not the child, anyway, who is always the most important in the equation.