As a man raised by a single mum (now deceased) I am repeatedly wowed by the resilience of women. There are champions and drop outs in both genders, but why is it so much more common for women to be picking up the slack for men?
I don’t doubt the scores of amazing men out there (I hope to be one myself), but on balance when worlds come crashing down it is women who save the day.
Single Mum’s Raise Some Amazing People
Here is a list of successful people who were raised by women. In each case the father was missing, deceased or willfully absent.
- President Barack Obama (met his father only once)
- Tom Cruise (he and his 3 siblings were raised by his mother)
- Bill Clinton (father died in a car accident 3 months before his birth)
- Bill Cosby
- Michael Phelps
- Demi Moore (father abandoned her before she was born)
- Angelina Jolie
- Julia Roberts (lost her father when she was 10)
- Oprah Winfrey
- Aubrey Hepburn
- Maria Carey
- Matt Damon
- Halle Berry (abandoned by her father when she was 4)
- Jodie Foster (parents separated before she was born)
- Alicia Keys (grew up without her father)
- Al Pacino (grew up in his grandparents’ house with his mother)
- Marilyn Monroe (grew up with no father)
- Barbra Streisand (lost her father when she was 2)
- Jack Nicholson (did not know his real father)
- Pierce Brosnan (abandoned by his father before his 1st birthday)
- Jonathan Rhys Meyers (parent separated when he was 3)
- Justin Bieber (his mother was 18 when she had him)
- Ryan Gosling
- Lance Armstrong
- Samuel L Jackson (met his father twice in his life)
- Jay-Z (abandoned by his father)
- John Lennon (grew up with no father)
- Charlize Theron (father was abusive and an alcoholic, mother ended up killing him)
- Shania Twain
- Kanye West
- Mary J. Blige (father left when she was 4)
- Adele (father left when she was 3)
Are Women Biologically Better?
Did you know that women make better fighter pilots? According to the British Ministry of Defence, they can withstand more G-forces and endure tighter turns because the proportionate distance between their brains and their hearts is smaller. India’s Air Force Academy also report that women consistently test better than men in fighter training exercises.
Brains More Resilient
The female brain is more resilient too. They are able to carry higher levels of genetic defects without contracting brain development disorders such as autism (American Journal of Human Genetics). Kind of explains why boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.
Women Live Longer
About 5 years longer on average, but up to 12 years longer. Even at the very beginning in the womb, women are tougher. Two and a half as many boys are actually conceived as girls, but they’re much more likely to succumb to prenatal infection so that by the time of birth the ratio is roughly 50%male 50%female.
None of this though explains why women are often so strong. Ever messed with a mama bear? Or a mama anything? There’s something fiercely resolute about mother instincts. I was crushed to find out that my childhood hero (the maned lion) was a lazy scavenger who left the hunting to the lionesses. In nature, females are also usually bigger, more active and more powerful.
Picking Up The Pieces
Women are statistically much more likely to fulfill roles that ‘pick up the pieces’ – nursing, counselling etc. Why? Are they built to repair and restore people and situations in this world?
I don’t know, but I’m impressed.
When fathers take flight, mothers step up to the plate and play both roles. Some do it poorly, some do it well, but so many of them take the challenge head on.