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Houston Breakthrough, May 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 19. May 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 15, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/620.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(May 1979). Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 19. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/620

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 19, May 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 15, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/620.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, May 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date May 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 19
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File Name femin_201109_550ar.jpg
Transcript Single Mothers by Andrea Bowen and Judith Broadhurst Being a mother is no easy task, but the job becomes much more difficult when you are both "mommy and daddy," when there is no father around to share the responsibilities and even the rewards of parenting. Emotional stability and maturity are essential to coping with the single-parent role. "The single mother needs to get in touch with herself. She needs to realize that she does not have to meet all the needs of her child or children. Friends or support groups are most helpful," emphasized Bette Graham White, former mayoral candidate and mother of a 19-year-old son. Mother of seven and owner of a bicycle shop, Joy Boone echoed White's views. "Any woman married or single or divorced needs to find her own personal identity." Getting in touch with her emotions was difficult for Grace Ramirez Moore, mother of four children ranging in ages from 15 to Vh years. "I knew long before my 31/2-year-old twins were born that my marriage was not steady. But, by the time my husband left, our family size had doubled," Moore explained. "I just fell apart emotionally. I did not want the separation, it was all my husband's idea. Realizing that the only way to make our family work was to take one day at a time helped me cope better," she continued. Moore's separation which is ending in divorce was like a death to her. "I went through the whole death process, the same as I would have if my husband actually had died. I grieved and mourned, but I am over that now." Friends or relatives are another important ingredient in making a single mother's role more bearable and even enjoyable. "The best thing a single mother can do is to have a lot of friends who will listen to her problems and help her with babysitting or running errands," advised Gloria Guardiola, mother of 5-month-old Robert Alexander. Guardiola, assistant director of the Association for the Advancement of Mexican-Americans, and psychologist Jeanne Zell, mother of 18-month-old twins, needed friends' help because they elected to go through the pregnancies alone without the children's fathers. Even though each was somewhat surprised to find out about the pregnancies, both women were delighted. "When I found out that I was expecting, I was happy. I never thought once about ending the pregnancy. There was no reason to, I was older, 37, and felt secure in my life," stressed Guardiola, an avid worker for rights for women and Mexican-Americans. Zell, equally thrilled to be pregnant, smiled, "I read and reread The First Nine Months of Life and other books on infant development, and kept imagining the baby, stage by stage, growing inside of me. A single friend of Zell's volunteered to be her coach for the LaMaze method of prepared childbirth. That friend also was at the hospital with her when the babies came two months ahead of schedule, thus ending Zell's course in prepared childbirth. "Since I work and sometimes not regular hours, I have to depend on friends to take care of my son. When he is ill, I often call them to go get some medicine for me," Guardiola expressed. Shrugging off one's pride enough to ask others for help was extremely hard for the community-involved White. . "When my son and I moved to Houston 13 years ago, I finally admitted I needed some kind of support and help to try to learn how to be a mother and a leader in the community," commented White. A church community in the east part of Houston was the answer to her immediate problems. It helped alleviate all the pressures of rearing a child by herself and allowed her time to go back to school and obtain a bachelor's degree in theology. After securing the much needed help of the church, the young mother and her son moved back on their own—and White worked in the administration office at the University of St. Thomas. "I sent Troy to private school at St. Anne's partly because we had been living in a sheltered environment and also because the school had an excellent sports program—my son always loved sports," she explained. Having a male role model is a concern expressed by several single mothers. The recreation program at Troy's school helped give him a male figure, but Moore worries about Benjamin, one of her twins, growing up without a man around. "I seriously am considering looking into Big Brothers to help with a male influence. My soon-to-be ex-husband helps financially with the children, but rarely calls them or comes to see them. Benjamin has no male figure," stated Moore who works as an aide to state representa- tive Lance Lalor. Guardiola also feels the need to expose her infant son to many other people. She also forsees the day when he, too, will need a male role model. While her son's father has never cast eyes on the baby, Guardiola struggles not to be bitter. "I have tried to keep a positive attitude toward my son's father. I never want him or my son to say that I kept them from seeing each other. I also hope I never pass my negative feelings about the father onto my child," she reflected. Zell's feelings about the father of her twins fluctuates from fondness to bitterness though he has not been around to share either. "I've become more aware of how other men view themselves as parents and their relationships with children. It has become a new test, what kind of parent would he be? It helps filter people out of my necessarily limited social life. The ones who are flexible, tolerant and able to hang in there are more my kind of people." As the mother of seven ranging in ages from 13 to 23 years, Boone also felt bitter towards her husband. "I was furious that he just walked out. I, too, wanted to duck out of my responsibility, but I just couldn't walk away from my family." Pondering her situation, she says, "Actually, now that I look back on it, my husband did me a favor. I needed the responsibility to become a more independent person." Boone, like White, recognized the need for support and assurance by seeking psychological counseling. Both readily admit that the counseling worked wonders for them and helped improve the family relationships. "Through counseling I have established my own personal identity. I would like to marry again, but I now know that if I have to, I can make it on my own with the children. I know, despite having six children still at home, that I need my own personal space. Gradually, the children have begun to accept this," continued Boone. In addition to learning their true inner beings, all of the women, except Guardiola, expressed concern over family finances. "I panicked at first. My initial worry was finances. Although I liked my job, I knew the salary was small and I felt insecure about the money. My twins early in life had many ear problems, which helped mount the doctor and hospital bills," stated Moore who finally thinks she is ready to take the giant step of looking for a better paying position. Zell's twins, Katie and Jenny, born two months early had to remain in the hospital for several weeks after birth. Though she had insurance, like many policies, it did not cover the babies' care while in the hospital. As a result of the unanticipated expenses, there still are a- bout $12,000 in outstanding bills. "The thing that really makes me angry is that my credit rating is destroyed. Even if I could save the money for a down payment on a house, I could not get the mortgage approved. Fending off bill collectors is a continual struggle," she stated. When Boone realized she could indeed pay the mortgage on her home and make a go of the bicycle shop, she breathed a sigh of relief. "We do not live extravagantly, but we never have gone hungry." White was not so fortunate. She can remember times when she did not have money for food and had to turn to others for support. Having and rearing her child practically alone has meant sacrifices for the 39-year-old college lecturer. "Only a few times did I work at regular daily jobs. I would speak and teach at various schools and organizations. I felt that my son needed me more than I needed a permanent career. A balanced life was important for him," recollected White who soon will be faced with the financial burden of college for her son. Although these women have gone through many of the pains of child rearing by themselves, none is completely opposed to the idea of marriage. Guardiola however expressed a fear that her husband, should she choose to marry, would not care for her son enough. "I have my own ideas about disciplining children and about how a child should be reared. I do not know if I could have the man impose his values and discipline on my son." She does not see marriage as a solution, but as a meaningful relationship. "I would never marry just to give my child a name. If I ever decide to marry I want it to be because I will be getting a better way of life." When asked if she would ever marry a- gain, Moore quickly replied, "Oh, yes. I know that I can live my life alone if I have to, but there is a great deal to be said for marriage." Zell, even though she adores her youngsters, does not recommend becoming a single parent. "It is difficult. I emphatically favor the two-parent-in-residence family with the extended and intentional families also being important." The mothers of older children, Boone, White and Moore, have discovered that the divorce and being reared by a single parent have had an effect on the youths. "Although my children do not talk about our situation much, I know that it bothers them. In 20 years or so I'll be able to say if our divorce and my raising them had a good or bad effect," commented Boone. White and Moore feel that it has made their offsprings more mature and knowledgeable about love relationships. '"My oldest daughter, Chela, is far more mature about marriage and children than I was at her age," Moore said. If any of these women could tell other single mothers a bit of advice, it would be to better their marketable skills. "If a woman stays in the job market, I firmly believe that she is more secure in her marital relationship," Moore contributed. Women should develop skills and at least try to work part-time at a job or volunteer post. Whatever she does, a woman should not let her whole life revolve around her husband. Moore continued, "All women need to acknowledge the fact that they may be spending parts of their lives alone through either death or divorce." Or choice. Andrea Bowen is a former reporter for the Orange Leader and is now a staff writer at the Houston Westside Reporter. Judith Broadhurst is a freelance writer. (Pictured above) Jeanne Zell and her twin daughters Katy and Jenny. Houston Breakthrough 19 May 1979