Forty years ago, Congress designated March 21st as National Single Parent Day in order “to recognize the courage and dedication of these parents who work to maintain strong family units and to be responsible members of American society.” Today, single parents like me are bombarded from the Right by studies “proving” that we have ruined our children’s lives and specious essays from the Left glorifying the abandonment of the “failed utopia” of marriage.

Pontificators on the Left and Right often imply that marriages fail simply because one or both spouses need to “find themselves.” This “Eat, Pray, Love” approach to prioritizing individual fulfillment above all else makes for best-selling novels, mildly entertaining movies, and high-profile essays, but it doesn’t reflect the heartwrenching devastation that many people experience at the demise of a marriage and the years of strife leading up to it. For every high-profile New York Magazine writer launching a GoFundMe plea to cover divorce costs because she doesn’t like her husband anymore (while also suffering from an alcohol-fueled mental breakdown), there are a multitude of individuals whose family lives have been blown apart by porn or substance addictions, financial abandonment, physical abuse, severe mental illness, extreme conflict, legal struggles, and/or infidelity.

Most shattered families don’t brag about escaping the “pyre of human marriage” like author Lyz Lenz. In her recent book “This American Ex-Wife: How I Ended My Marriage and Started My Life,” Lynz promises women that divorce offers professional success and the sweet freedom of “court-ordered 50-50 custody.” I have never met a divorced person who would agree with Lenz’s assertions that “breaking is our power,” “walking away is a strength,” and “there is power in giving up.” Lenz may be living her best life unshackled from the “violent prison” of marriage (her marriage was not literally violent), but her message distorts the reality that divorce is horrible. The people who evangelize in favor of divorce get book deals, while the rest of us are scrambling to pick up the pieces of our lives.

Lenz writes about an idealized “network of women who’d broken their lives apart and found freedom and happiness.” It might be a relief to not be fuming with resentment about your husband all the time, a dynamic Lenz describes in humiliating detail. But her pro-divorce message obscures the fact that divorced women have to do 100% of everything as single parents, and not just the domestic chores loathed by the women who author the “marriage is how women are disappeared”-themed essays, books, and social media posts. If single mothers do not have a substantial income that allows them to outsource those relentless responsibilities—domestic chores, caring for and transporting children, yard work, home repairs, and every single errand—divorced life can be very hard. 

While misleading messages from the Left glorify divorce, researchers from the Right regularly remind single parents that we have robbed their children of the two-parent advantage. We’re constantly informed that our divorces statistically condemn our children to a greater likelihood of adolescent depression, dropping out of college, ending up in prison, and lower lifetime earning potential. We’re told over and over that “households that stay together help build kids that perform better.” 

Yes, we know. Our marriages failed and now our children will suffer as a result. We get it. 

What is missing from the Right’s meticulously researched analysis and the Left’s gleeful celebration of divorce is a meaningful discussion of what can be done to provide the stability, support, and routines that children from broken homes need to survive and thrive. If only about half of U.S. children are living with two parents, as described in Melissa Kearney’s “The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind (a book that was not written by a conservative), there are a lot of American children who need support, rather than condemnation of their family’s structure.

By support, I mean meaningful actions taken by extended family, neighbors, and friends to provide children with stability by regularly spending time with them. Forming a close web of caring and meaningful relationships can help single parents ensure their children receive the support they need. Children can continue to benefit from routines if nearby families offer to help transport children to shared activities or invite them over for playdates and family meals.

The congressional declaration of National Single Parent Day praised single parents for struggling “courageously to raise their children to a healthy maturity, with the full sense of being loved and accepted as persons, and with the same prospects for adulthood as children who mature with their two parents together.” Thank you, 98th Congress. We’re trying.