From the November 28 Globe and Mail article titled The Inequality We Don’t Talk About, by Margaret Wente:
Two things happened in the 1970s. Family income began to stagnate and family structures began to change radically. Divorce rates soared and marriage rates began to fall. More women began to have children outside marriage, and the percentage of female-headed families began to climb. In Canada, about 25 per cent of babies are now born out of wedlock. In the United States, it’s 41 per cent. In Canada, just over 19 per cent of children live in single-parent families, mainly single mothers, and another 16.3 per cent live with parents who are common-law, according to Statistics Canada.
The article goes on to explain that single parent households tend to be led by women, and are four times more likely to be poor than two parent households. Moreover, children of single parent households receive less time with their parents than the time typical of two parent households. The effects are detrimental to the children, and to the boys in particular:
Upper-middle-class two-parent families can invest far more time and resources in their children than lower-middle-class single mothers can, no matter how good their intentions. But the impact of family structure on children goes far beyond money. Kids from lone-parent families do worse on many measures. And the marriage gap is reducing upward mobility and sharpening the class divide. “Because the breakdown of the traditional family is overwhelmingly occurring among working-class Americans of all races, these trends threaten to make the U.S. a much more class-based society over time,” writes Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution.
Canada is not the same as the United States, and distinctions are important. But the general trends apply to us as well. And the children most at risk in lower-income single-parent homes are boys. In a widely cited report published last spring, MIT economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman drew a direct link between the rising tide of fatherlessness and the growing failure of boys in school and the labour market.
“Males born into low-income single-parent headed households – which, in the vast majority of cases are female-headed households – appear to fare particularly poorly on numerous social and educational outcomes,” they wrote. It’s not just that the girls are outperforming them. It’s that the boys are doing worse.
I wouldn’t be sharing all of this doom-and-gloom if I didn’t see a silver lining. I know my share of single parent motorcyclists. They are some of the people I look up to the most. They aren’t pictured here, but they know who they are. They know the value of a ride together. They know that a few dollars of gas burned in their cylinders and smoked out of their exhausts with their children is money well spent. They know that few investments will earn as much interest in investing in memories of time spent – be it a ride, or not – with their children.
To all of those parents, thank you. Thank you for your sacrifices, and for your patience and perseverance. Thank you for not giving up, whatever the odds. I’m not the voice of a son of a single parent. I’m just the voice of a member of humanity, and a member of the motorcycle community, who wanted to call you out and show a little appreciation.
Ride safe. I’m cheering for you.
PS: As for me, well, this is the closest I plan on getting to parenthood, but hey, to each their own.