Family Advocate Dissects Traits That Help Single Moms Raise Leaders

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 04:06 PM.

With single parents now the norm -- nearly two-thirds of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage – they’re also dominating the big screen.

This summer, newly single-in-real life actress Katie Holmes began shooting “Molly,” a film she co-wrote, is co-producing and stars in as the single mother of a daughter. In November, Tyler Perry began shooting “Single Mom’s Club,” a comedy about four women who meet through their kids’ preschool.

“I love movies about single moms because they often highlight the qualities that help single moms raise confident, successful kids,” says Cederick Tardy, founder of S.T.R.O.N.G., Inc, a non-profit that provides education and resources to empower youth and families.

“Having been raised by a single mother, I know the job can seem overwhelming. Mothers, especially moms of boys, may feel like they’re doing well just to get their sons through adolescence alive and with no criminal charges.”

Tardy interviewed dozens of single mothers for his book “The Seven Secrets: The Manual for Raising Boys to Men” ( and those who raise leaders share certain characteristics. They also take definitive steps, such as setting firm boundaries and instilling in their children a sense of purpose, that help keep their sons motivated and on course.

What are some of the other qualities they share? Tardy points to the movies and five of his favorite single moms:

    • “The Karate Kid” (1984) – Single moms should ensure their sons have strong male role models and, while Lucille LaRusso didn’t actually find Mr. Miyagi for her son, Daniel, she allows the relationship to flourish, Tardy says. “They don’t get better than Mr. Myagi, the Army veteran and Medal of Honor winner who teaches young Daniel karate.” It’s not enough to simply provide role models and hope some good rubs off, Tardy notes. “As with Mr. Myagi, there should be a plan, a mission, something specific your son can learn that will move him closer to his goals.”

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