I’ve got a friend (let’s call her Nancy) who recently became a mom. She gave birth to her daughter about two months ago. Nancy isn’t married and doesn’t have a partner—nor does she want either of these things. She’s a self-described asexual person with one caveat: she’s always wanted to be a mom. Now she is!

Nancy’s situation is one that might seem a bit odd to some people, but she’s just one of a growing movement of women who are single mothers by choice. This movement has been gaining steam since the 1980s and has become more socially acceptable since the 2000s and 2010s. There are even organizations dedicated to single mothers by choice. I think it’s fantastic, and it’s something we’re going to see more of in the future.

The next step in female empowerment

One of the founding pillars of the mothers by choice movement is female empowerment. Women are having babies and raising children by themselves because they want to. Not because they need to be part of a nuclear family or because this is the situation they’ve been saddled with. They don’t need men to get pregnant, either. Nancy’s pregnancy was the result of IVF.

Choosing to be a single mother is a deeply empowering choice to make. You’re choosing to give life—the ultimate form of creation—and harnessing the strength, perseverance and willpower to do it alone. You’re taking full control over your life and deciding to do something outside the bounds of what many people consider “normal” and doing it in an extremely unselfish way.

Few things are so empowering.

Not an easy choice

After talking with Nancy about her decision, I decided to try and learn more about single mothers by choice. I found this great article on Health.com entitled, I Became a Single Mom by Choice at 40—Here’s All the Stuff No One Tells You. I encourage every single parent, every woman—heck, anyone—to read it. It’s an extremely enlightening perspective.

As a single dad with daughters, I have some empathy for other single parents. I came away from my chat with Nancy and that article realizing how difficult it is to be a single mother, and how much harder things are when you choose to be a single mother! The fact that more and more women are choosing to be single mothers is, to me, a testament to their strength.

Recognizing single parentage as a choice

Chatting with Nancy, I put my foot in my mouth more than once as I tried to learn more about her situation. “So, do you plan on being single forever?” Not my place to ask. “Did you pick the sperm donor?” Again, way too personal. Thankfully, Nancy was a good sport and helped me understand her choice. But I learned something valuable in talking with her. Here’s what she said:

“It’s a decision that I made for myself. I want to do this myself and I didn’t want to have to answer to anyone else. I know in my heart I’m going to be a good mother to my daughter and I’m grateful that we live in a world where this is possible. At the end of the day, I’m just like every other single mother out there—just without all the extra stuff that comes from divorce or separation or death.”