I was annoyed during most of last night's presidential debate, but when Mitt Romney insinuated that single-parent families are to blame for gun violence in America, my blood pressure shot through the roof.
I'm a single mother. A proud one. And Romney's remarks are ignorant, insulting and based on stereotypes that degrade the hard work single parents do every day.
When a member of the audience at Tuesday night's debate asked what each candidate would do to keep assault weapons off the streets, Romney launched a baseless diatribe about making sure we have more two-parent families in this country, therefore equating gun violence with single parenthood.
May I remind him that the shooter in the assault on Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the alleged shooter in the Colorado movie theater attack were both single men with no children? Can I point out that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the boys who massacred their classmates at Columbine High School in 1999, had parents who were married? Can anyone show me one instance of a single mother caught packing an AK-47 in her diaper bag?
This is not the first time we've heard a Republican candidate for president blaming solo parents for society's ills. Last March, it was Rick Santorum, who said on the record that single mothers were ruining the fabric of our country by "breeding more criminals."
Well, my little "criminal" just turned six-years-old. Her name is Angie, and she's learning how to count money and tell time. She was student of the month at her school and the top reader in the library's summer reading program. She's becoming a pretty good soccer player, too. Last week, she scored two goals in one game.
I've been a single mother to her since she was two-years-old -- not because I had her before I was married but because her father, after twelve years of marriage, decided he was in love with someone else and wanted a divorce. It happens. Life goes on.
Things get pretty hectic around our house, but Angie and I still find time to bake, read and do crafts together. That's what single parents do. We don't plot ways to break the law or riot in the streets with our pistols and semi-automatics (as a matter of fact, I had to Google "types of guns" just to write this). No, what we do is get our children off to school on time. We help them with their homework. We go to our jobs and our night classes, to our kids' parent-teacher conferences and band practices. And we watch presidential debates so we'll know who to vote for, who will have our best interests in mind.
I'm sick of the cliche that single parents, especially mothers, are lazy, society-sucking welfare cases, and that their children are growing up to be delinquents. The truth is 79 percent of single mothers and 92 percent of single fathers have jobs. Many live off low incomes, but most receive no public assistance. More than half are raising only one child. The majority of us are responsible people, and we are raising our children to be responsible, to be kind, to value education and pursue their talents. To assume otherwise is to feed the stereotype, to perpetuate the myth.
Ask President Obama. His own mother was a single mom, and she raised him to become president.
Perhaps Romney apologized for his ridiculous comments regarding single parents and gun violence in his closing remarks last night. I missed the tail end of the debate, after all. I had to turn off the television and put my daughter to bed -- because that's what real single parents do.