Life Advice



Single File: Freedom First?

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: This is one woman's comments on the 31-year-old man (who has never been married and is successful professionally) with a puzzling situation. He wrote for your opinion because the woman he's dating has a young child and complains that he puts his friends and freedom first.

I feel I must weigh in on this matter. I think he should put his friends and freedom first! I'm a vehement supporter of both unmarried and child-free people. (I think you're a supporter of only the former, Susan.) The child-free are still fighting off the stigma that the unmarried have begun to shed. This is probably not what most people -- even you -- expect to hear. Many people expect a woman to castigate a man for daring to find his own life. That's why I've got to speak out and support this reader.

Friends and freedom first. What a wonderful way to develop as a human being! And becoming fully human need not mean "seeing the error of one's ways and deciding to marry and breed." In my writings, I've been (like you, Susan) mistaken for a man, but I'll never be mistaken for a stereotype. I wish this man well. -- Val B., Long Island, N.Y.

DEAR VAL B.: It's time for a rewrite! Yes, championing singleness is my mission -- in the cause of individuality and self-expression. I espouse it not necessarily as a lifetime decision but as a stage everyone should go through at some point in adulthood -- to learn about oneself and the world before making the marriage commitment. (I don't believe singleness or marriage is for everyone.) In a soured marriage, divorce is an option. But there's no divorcing a child. (To be sure, this ol' world already has too many confused young miserables.) No, Val, my slant on marriage and parenthood isn't anti-stereotype; it isn't against anything! My mission encourages individual choice, knowing your own needs well enough to choose the life right for you. The way I see it, not having children simply to avoid being part of the majority seems as misguided as knuckling under to pressure to have them.


But -- a huge one -- the unmarried should be very selective about whom they romance. If freedom and friends top your value scale -- and that's a very personal measure -- don't even consider dating a single parent. Children of divorce and death have already lived through enough trauma for a lifetime; they don't deserve the roller coaster ride of raised expectations and dashed hopes. Your walking away from a single-parent situation would be the greatest kindness.


Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at We've uncovered another treasure trove of "Single File" paperbacks -- in perfect condition, signed by Susan, ready to enjoy. Send $15 and your address: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.



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