LOS ANGELES – Jennifer Aniston’s recent comments about how men are optional in child raising has sparked outrage from those who believe the 41-year-old actress has an unrealistic perception of what it really takes to raise children alone.
“(Promoting single parenthood) might be the norm in the Hollywood, but the rest of America believes children deserve and need a mother and a father,” Nathan Burchfiel of the MRC’s Culture and Media Institute told Pop Tarts. “Life is extremely difficult for single moms, with about one quarter of them living below the poverty line. But of course Jennifer doesn’t have to worry about that given her financial resources.”
Lynda Powell of the Bethel Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to support single moms attain housing, rehabilitation and mentoring, echoed Burchfiel’s sentiments that the “single life” is far from glamorizing or gratifying.
“Jen needs to come back to the real world of where the average, everyday mother does not begin to make the money to provide adequately for her children,” Powell said. “We work with single mothers everyday where the father is absent and we see the sadness this brings into the family. From my own experience as a single mother, I know that having a positive male in the family unit makes a huge difference in that child's life. Our prison systems are now overloaded and many that are in the prison system did not have a male role model in their life. We need to stop and think 'What are we doing to our children by choosing to have a baby without the family unit intact?’”
A CBS poll conducted last year showed that the children of single and/or unmarried parents were impacted significantly harder by the economic recession. A 2006 study conducted by the National Center for Juvenile Justice also found that juveniles who lived with both biological parents were less likely to join gangs or break the law than their single-parent or orphaned counterparts.
Aniston, who plays a woman that opts for single parenthood by choosing to become pregnant via artificial insemination in her new film “The Switch,” also blasted the value of the classic family model by stating that family life has "evolved" from "the traditional stereotype” defined by “a mother, father, two children and a dog named Spot.”
“A woman can have children without a father to raise them, but it's the children who pay the high price for that decision,”said Wendy Wright, President of the conservative political Christian action group, Concerned Women for America. “Hollywood celebrities have long been in the forefront of mocking social norms, to their own detriment and the shattered lives of those who follow their example.”
“Traditional family values may be boring for Hollywood celebrities, but they develop stable, secure and healthy people,” Wright added. “Children need a dad. No amount of insisting 'but I can do whatever I want' can changed that fact.”
While many disagree with Aniston’s liberal views on parenting and the family structure, she has also been applauded for empowering women to take control of their own destiny without their reliance on a sexual partner.
“It is terrific that, in today's world, women have the choice to start a family when they are ready, and that might be before, or after, they meet the person they want to marry,” Jane Mattes, Director and Founder of Single Mothers By Choice, which provides information and emotional support to women in these situations, told us. “It's a big decision and needs to be given careful thought, but it is definitely do-able if the woman has the emotional and financial resources to support herself and a child on her own.”
Eileen Koch, who raised a daughter on her own due to divorce, agreed that no woman should have to bypass the opportunity of having children of her own for the sake of not meeting Mr. Right.
“If a woman doesn't find love in her child-bearing years, she should not miss out on having a family. If the children are fortunate enough to have a loving mom and the mom's extending family, they will be just fine,” Koch said. “It would be nice for all of us to have everything, but sometimes in this world it just doesn't work out for all.”
Deidre Behar contributed to this report.