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An Unwed Mother for Quayle


Some readers may remember the squall over Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown.

Father Richard John Neuhaus

Some readers may remember the squall over Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown. At that time Maggie Gallagher published anon the op-ed page of the New York Times An Unwed Mother for Quayle, and it deserves not to get lost in the memory hole of yesterday's news. Ms. Gallagher, too, is a journalist and unwed mother, but in the real world. After ten years as an unwed mother, she has some thoughts on what it takes. For women thinking of raising children outside marriage, she says, it helps to:

  1. Have relatively affluent parents who got and stayed married themselves. That way you can rely on their marriage, rather than your own, to give your child the emotional and financial emergency support system he or she needs.

  2. Be able to choose a profession with flexible hours that allow you to take time out and work from home, and be sure to get an Ivy League degree first.

  3. (This one is especially tricky.) Find a boss who doesn't mind if you bring a sick 4-year-old and his dinosaurs to the office, which will happen regularly.

  4. Accept that, even if you make a good living, you are going to have far less money than anyone you know except for other single mothers.

  5. Expect to give up all the advantages of single life freedom, romance, travel and receive none of the advantages of marriage emotional, logistical, and financial support.

  6. Prepare for the nights when your child cries himself to sleep in your arms, wondering why his father doesn't love him. (If your child is allowed to express his real feelings, there will be many such occasions.)

The evidence that marriage is the best social program ever invented for raising children is overwhelming. A single woman with all the resources and assistance available to the privileged will soon discover the pain of a child's awareness of the irreplaceability of a father. Gallagher writes: As Murphy Brown would find out if she were a real person and not a Hollywood fantasy, children not only need a father, they long for one, irrationally, with all the undiluted strength of a child's hopeful heart. To raise one's own child without a father may, at times, be a painful and tragic necessity, but it should never be just another lifestyle option...We have to stop pretending that all choices are equally good that single motherhood is just an alternative family form and that fathers are just another new disposable item in the nursery. St. Augustine somewhere writes about the undiluted longing of a child's hopeful heart with respect to another Father. The two, we suspect, are intimately entangled in ways that surpass our understanding.



Neuhaus, Richard J. Public Square. First Things 29 (January 1993): 59.

Reprinted with permission of First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, 156 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010. To subscribe to First Things call 1-800-783-4903.

The Author

Prior to his immigration to the United States from South Africa in 1973 Rabbi Daniel Lapin studied theology, physics, economics, and mathematics in London and Jerusalem . He is the founding Rabbi of the Pacific Jewish Center, a now legendary Orthodox synagogue in Venice, California. He and his family relocated to Washington State in 1991 to develop Toward Tradition and host a nationally syndicated weekly radio show. Rabbi Lapin has written for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Commentary, the American Enterprise, and the Washington Times, and has taught at the Christian Coalition, U.S. Army, Harvard Law School, and the Family Research Council. He also serves on the board of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, DC, and was recently appointed to a U.S. presidential commission. He is the author of America’s Real War, Buried Treasure and most recently Thou Shall Prosper. Rabbi Lapin is the author of Buried Treasure: Hidden Wisdom from the Hebrew Language, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, and Americas Real War. Rabbi Daniel Lapin is a member of the Advisory Board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Copyright © 1993 First Things
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