Single-parent holiday spreads love
Manitou Springs man writes blog for support
By JANE REUTER THE GAZETTE
Gone are the days when a single parent was a social oddity, but that fact can seem like cold comfort to those facing daily parental challenges alone. Jim McQuiggin’s days are a merry-go-round of trials and delights. On a recent chaotic morning, he pried dried Froot Loops from his kitchen floor. Then he found his 2-year-old son in the living room tearing covers from two cherished books. Almost simultaneously, his 6- and 4-yearold daughters broke into screams of outrage when both reached for the same doll. “It can be harrowing sometimes,” said McQuiggin, a thera- pist who lives in Manitou Springs, “but it’s a constant joy.” McQuiggin’s a prime example of the many moms and dads who Janice Moglen had in mind when she proposed Single Parents Day. Moglen started the tribute, celebrated in Colorado today, in the mid ’80s. Moglen, 63, raised her two now-grown children largely on her own. She struggled constantly to find child care, which was not readily available in the 1970s. Her circle of friends repeatedly saved the day. Moglen had sporadic success in gaining recognition for Single Parents Day. Congress declared Single Parents Day in 1984. Since then, Colorado’s governors also have recognized March 21 as a day to honor single parents. Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera signed a proclamation supporting it. Moglen’s goal is to make it a national event celebrated the third Sunday of every March. About 9 percent of American households are run by single moms, another 2 percent by single dads, according to 2000 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and other national agencies. The figure is lower in El Paso County, where single moms run 7 percent of the homes, 2000 census figures show. County figures do not include single dads. In 2002, 28 percent of the nation’s children lived with a single parent. Moglen believes those parents still face fading stereotypes that they live at or near poverty level, and that their children are less successful adults than those raised in two-parent families. “The majority of single parents are middle-class women living in suburbs who raise their children to be happy adults,” Moglen said. Her son and daughter are both happily married with successful careers, she said. She points to a long list of wellknown single parents, including Virgina Kelley, mother of former President Bill Clinton. Colorado Springs School District 11 board member Willie Breazell incited some debate about family structures last year. He asked the board to adopt a resolution that the district make a central goal “the definition, defense, maintenance and nourishment of stable, heterosexual, twoent families.” Breazell said he had no intention of slamming single parents. His son and daughter are both raising children on their own. “I know examples of single parents who’ve been very successful in raising their children,” he said. “But if the situation were ideal, I think the child benefits from the traditional man/woman relationship.” Moglen agrees. “Two happy individuals working together to raise the children — that’s the best of all worlds,” she said. “But it’s not the reality in many cases. We have to focus on the healthy family, rather than the number of parents. Where there’s love, a family is whole. Where there’s love, no home is broken.” McQuiggin says the environment in which his children now live — spending about half their time with each parent — is better than that of the home he shared with his ex-wife. “The traditional makeup is worthless unless there’s an emotionally stable and loving environment involved,” he said. “I think they’re better off in a household where there’s peace and consistency rather than the chaos of a marriage that’s crumbling.” McQuiggin shares his thoughts on single parenting on a Web blog, www.fatherknowsnothing.blogspot.com. Other single parents chime in. It helps, he said, to know he’s not alone. Someday, Moglen hopes greeting card companies will make cards celebrating Single Parents Day. Meanwhile, she suggests there’s an ideal Single Parents Day gift. “We’re not looking for chocolates or flowers,” she said. “Give us baby-sitting.”
JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE - Jim McQuiggin greets his daughter, Lillian as she comes out of the pool after her swimming lessons. Marni and Ezekial sit on their father’s lap.