Ladies, take out your notebooks. I’m about to divulge one of my biggest dating secrets. You want to find a truly amazing partner? A grown-up guy who’s got his you-know-what together? A dude who will rarely let you down?
Marry a man who was raised by a single mom. Don’t believe me? Ask Michelle Obama how single-mama-raised President Barack Obama is working out as a husband.
Pundits like to decry single-parent families as the downfall of our civilization. Many studies have focused on the difficulties children raised in single-family homes face (including school troubles, substance abuse and divorce later in life), although many of these studies fail to control for the lower socioeconomic status of the children involved. Rarely mentioned? Despite all their hardships, single-parent families can also produce strong, solid and immensely marry-able men.
I’ve lived with male roommates for many years. Whenever my friends drop by, they can’t get over how clean and tidy our house is. “You live here with four guys?” they ask, incredulous. “Yep,” I respond. “They’re usually neater than I am.” I attribute the boys’ superior household habits to their amazing mothers, who raised them (mostly) all on their own.
They’re the guys I call if my car breaks down, a date dumps me or a spider creeps into my room. These single-mama-men do what they say they’ll do, show up where they’re supposed to and almost always remember to change the toilet paper roll. What more could you want in a husband-to-be?
Manhattan psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona cautions against taking these individual stand-outs and making generalizations about all men raised by single moms, reminding us that “a mother who has very poor parenting skills or is abusive and neglectful can create the opposite effect and make it much more likely that the man will grow up with serious problems relating to women and in relationships.”
However, he adds, “Men raised exclusively by women may have an advantage over those who are not when it comes to things like effective communication, insight into emotionality and expressiveness.”
My own (terribly unscientific) theory is that these men had a lot of practice taking care of themselves and taking care of women – or at least being on the same team as the women in their lives. They learned from a young age much of the “husband training” most men learn oh-so-late in life from their exasperated girlfriends.
In case you’re still not convinced, here are six reasons why men raised by single moms are great guys to date … and maybe even marry!
1. They respect women.
“Men raised by women might be more likely to develop an egalitarian world view when it comes to gender and be less inclined to chauvinistic thinking and opinions,” says Dr. Cilona. These single-mom-guys spent years working as a team with their mothers, which is phenomenal practice for the cooperation and compromises required in romantic partnerships.
2. They’re neat and tidy.
They were probably loading the dishwasher and folding the laundry before they were riding big-boy bikes. They also know that grocery shopping, cooking and bathroom cleaning aren’t done by magical elves. They’ll do these chores because they need to be done; no nagging required.
3. They’re good communicators.
“Being exposed to more frequent, nuanced and direct expressions of feelings and emotions might help [these] men develop stronger skills at both understanding emotionality at a higher level and identifying and communicating their own emotional experience,” explains Dr. Cilona. It seems to me single-mama-men always know how I’m feeling before I say a word – they’re gifted at reading women’s emotions and are often braver than most guys about sharing their own feelings.
4. They don’t whine.
When there’s a job to be done, these guys aren’t afraid to step up to the plate, not a whine in earshot. They understand the intrinsic rewards of a job well done. In short: they don’t need you to be their mommy.
5. They can fix things.
Having to be the “man of the house” at a young age is a lot of responsibility. But one of the advantages (at least for the women they date!), is that these men are often very handy with household repairs. They’re also not bad at mending broken hearts and bruised egos.
6. They’re responsible.
These guys grew up in families that, by necessity, required them to pull their own weight. Without the luxury of two parents double checking that lunches were packed and homework was complete, they learned to take their own responsibilities seriously. They’re careful about the commitments they make, because they almost always keep them. The last thing in the world they want is to let you down.
Have you dated or married a man raised by a single mom? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Carrie is an alum of the Groundlings Comedy Theatre, where she performs, teaches and habitually abuses her position of authority. Her comedic essay “Outsourcing Love” – which documents the shameless hiring of a virtual assistant in India to manage her love life – was recently optioned for a feature film. Carrie earned a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University and a minor in nerdalism from high school engineering camp. She regularly contributes humorous essays, videos and features to the New York Post, Cosmopolitan, the Tyra Banks Show, BettyConfidential.com and GuySpeak.com.