When TV producer Joy Thomas Moore found herself raising three children on her own in the 1980s, she had few role models. Even today, she says, solo parents can be unfairly stigmatized.
“We need to change the narrative around single parenting—to be supportive of each other, as opposed to blaming all the ills of the world on single moms,” Moore says. In September’s The Power of Presence, she shares her experience as well as advice from other solo mothers.
As their stories show, there are as many approaches to parenthood as there are people with children. “Parents have to be comfortable with the fact that there’s no uniform solution to anything,” says Janelle Hanchett, whose forthcoming I’m Just Happy to Be Here discusses parenting while recovering from addiction. “There just isn’t some silver bullet to doing it right.”
Moore and Hanchett’s books are among several forthcoming titles that address parenthood in all its imperfect glory.
Amateur Hour by Kimberly Harrington (Harper Perennial, May)
In a 2015 satirical essay for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, “Is There a Parenting Expert on This Plane?,” Harrington parodied modern parenting culture in the voice of a beleaguered, fictional airline captain: “Is there a Tiger Mom in the house? Anyone raise their kid in France?” Essays in the book continue the gentle ribbing, taking aim at pregnancy, school bake sales, and more.
And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell (Little, Brown, Apr.)
O’Connell was living the millennial dream—she worked at Kickstarter and Tumblr—when an unplanned pregnancy at age 28 catapulted her into motherhood. The experience was far from what she saw portrayed on mommy blogs and Instagram, and in her memoir, she confronts those realities: losing control of her body, feeling like an imposter, and accepting her ambivalence about being a parent.
Bounceback Parenting by Alissa Marquess (TarcherPerigee, Apr.)
Marquess, a blogger and mother of three, assigns her readers what she calls secret missions—simple activities to engage with family members, such as “Ask your child to teach you something about their world.” She also offers journal writing prompts and worksheets that aim to reinforce resilience in the face of family problems.
I’m Just Happy to Be Here by Janelle Hanchett (Hachette, May)
Since 2011, Hanchett has published profanity-laced essays about parenthood at her Renegade Mothering website, ending a selection of her favorite posts with the phrase “fuck helpful parenting advice.” Hanchett crashed into parenthood unexpectedly at age 21, and in her memoir she describes her 10-year battle to get clean from drug and alcohol addiction while raising four kids.
One Day You’ll Thank Me by David McGlynn (Counterpoint, Jun.)
In this compilation of essays that originally appeared in the New York Times, Parents, and elsewhere, McGlynn, an associate professor of English at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, shares his idiosyncratic parenting solutions: repurposing a shower curtain rod as a tool to keep an energetic toddler in his room, for instance, or torching a Christmas list to restore a kindergartner’s faith in Santa.
The Power of Presence by Joy Thomas Moore (Grand Central, Sept.)
A Peabody Award–winning radio and TV producer shares her story of raising three children as a solo parent and profiles other single mothers who juggled parenthood and careers, among them a teacher, a magazine editor, and an entrepreneur.
Small Animals by Kim Brooks (Flatiron, Aug.)
After leaving her four-year-old son in the car for a few minutes while running an errand, Brooks faced legal trouble and found herself at the center of a national debate about responsible parenting. Her book blends personal reflections on her ordeal with a journalistic look at the culture of fear that causes parents to overcompensate, asserting that society has reached a point of what she calls “peak parenthood.”