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General

Is Single Motherhood Bad for Your Health? Why You Should Be Skeptical

In Singled Out, I debunked myths about single people. Many of my chapter titles make fun of specific myths and scare stories, such as this one: "Attention, Single Parents: Your Kids are Doomed." When it comes to single parenting, a lot of the singlist bashing is wrapped in a faux concern for the children. Poor things. They are being raised by single parents. They don't have that magical marriage in their lives.

The latest research is targeting single mothers. We are now told that they are doomed, too – to poorer health than those far superior mothers who are married. The basis of the claim seems, on the face of it, rather impressive – a study of more than 25,000 women from 15 different nations. The researchers documented who among the women had been a single mother before the age of 50 and then looked at their current health and functional abilities later, when they were over the age of 50. The first sentence of their conclusions, on the first page of their article, was used as the basis of headlines in stories that blanketed the media: "Single motherhood during early adulthood or mid-adulthood is associated with poorer health in later life."

The Today Show picked up on it, and if you read to the end of the article they posted on their website, you will find out just what they tell single mothers to do. Can you guess what it is? Oh, yeah – get married!

I'm here to tell you what you did not read in any (well, hardly any) other article or media spot about this study: (1) The sweeping conclusion – single moms have worse health later in life! – is not so sweeping at all. There are entire regions in which it is not true at all. (2) There are many factors, other than single parenting, that could account for the results. (3) The study did not – and could not – demonstrate that single parenting caused poorer health. Even when there does seem to be a statistical relationship between single parenting and worse health later on, single parenting may not actually be the key driving factor in the poorer health.

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General

What Do You Really Know About the Experience of Traveling Solo?

More than a decade ago, when I first started to study single life in earnest and not just live it, I took a look at how different groups and markets seemed to view single people. One of them was the travel industry, and wow, was I appalled. I found appeals written for the single traveler, but they all seemed to assume that people traveling on their own had just one goal – to come home coupled. Marketers touted all the eligible suitors the solo travelers might meet and all the wonderful social events on the schedule to bring them together. And if singles were charged far more for their reservations than couples, well too bad.

Today, much has changed for the better. There is no better chronicler of solo sojourners and their place in the contemporary travel industry than New York Times writer Stephanie Rosenbloom (also mentioned in previous posts here and here and here). In "Travel Industry Responds to Rise in Solo Sojourners," I found 5 fun facts that either surprised or delighted me. I'm presenting them in the form of quiz items. See how many you can get correct:

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Wall Street Journal Tells New PhD that a Wedding Is More Important

By now, you've probably seen the video of the white Georgia principal who forgot to give the valedictorian a chance to speak at the graduation ceremony. As people started to leave the auditorium (by some accounts, a white family was the first to leave), the principal said, in a snide tone, "Look who's leaving – all the Black people!" An uproar followed, in the room and then in the media.

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Tireless Advocate for Marriage Equality Now Wants Equality for Singles

I've been hoping this would happen for well over a decade. As I watched so many people put so much of their time and their effort and their heart into the quest for same-sex marriage rights, I wondered when some of those same people would realize what their triumphs would not accomplish. No matter how sweeping the victories ultimately are in the movement to legalize of same-sex marriage, people who do not marry – including people of all sexual orientations – are left out. Whether they are people who would like to marry but haven't found the right person, or people who proudly choose to be single, they remain second class citizens, excluded from the legal benefits and protections, and social status (misplaced, in my opinion) that comes from being officially married.

In what I hope will be one of many voices, a long-time advocate for marriage equality is speaking up. In the Boston Globe, James Lopata published an article titled, "Marriage equality is great. Now how about equality for singles?"

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‘Liberty is a Better Husband’ and Other Perspectives on Single Life

With Kate Bolick's Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own continuing to inspire conversations across the media, and encouraged by the interest in my review of the book here at Psych Central and in my post, 50 Shades of Single, I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes and insights from the book. And because Spinster does not include among the five inspirational figures from the past anyone who stayed single for life, I will also add a few words of wisdom from someone who did, Louisa May Alcott.

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Everyday Singlism and That Ton of Feathers

Prejudice and stereotyping and discrimination are most likely to grab our attention when they happen in big, fiery, dramatic ways, as when unarmed Black men are killed by police on city streets. Although those marquee incidents are the most visible and often the most consequential, all of our various isms, such as racism and sexism and heterosexism and ageism and, of course, singlism, manifest on a daily basis.

Singlism (the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against single people) does not reach the depths of viciousness of the worst forms of racism or homophobia. Yet everyday singlism, like everyday sexism or racism or any other ism, does matter. Those small hurts and injustices, sometimes called micro-aggressions, can add up. As activists and consciousness-raisers like to remind us, we really can get crushed by a ton of feathers.

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10 Fun Facts about Spinsters

I think I know quite a lot about single people and single life. I've studied single people for many years and have practiced single life my whole life. But I learned a lot of new fun facts from Kate Bolick's new book, Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own. (I reviewed the book for Psych Central and also wrote about it in "50 shades of single".)

Here are a few of my favorite fun facts:

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How That Shocking Episode of Grey’s Can Turn Out to Be the Most Affirming

[Spoiler alert: If you have not seen or heard about the April 23, 2015 episode of Grey's Anatomy, there will be spoilers ahead.]

I'm not such a devoted TV fan that I track the time left on my favorite characters' contracts, but if I had, I would have realized why the recent episode that has repeatedly been described as "shocking" was even more shocking to those in the know. Patrick Dempsey, who played Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy, had another year left on his contract, but now we know he's gone after 11 seasons. He got killed off at the end of last week's dramatic episode.

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50 Shades of Single

In my writings on single life, I have a lot to say about singlism, the ways in which single people are stereotyped and stigmatized and discriminated against. That includes – for single women, especially – the derogatory terms that have been hurled at them.

In her new book, Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own (which I reviewed for Psych Central), Kate Bolick reminds us that single women have not always been portrayed in entirely demeaning ways:

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