Mindy Kaling got very honest with Meghan Markle about single parenthood during a recent appearance on the podcast Archetypes. The star, who is mom to 4-year-old Katherine and 2-year-old Spencer, opened up about raising her children without a romantic partner.
As a child, Kaling always expected to have a cookie cutter family dynamic when she entered adulthood. “I’m a highly traditional person, I came from a really happy nuclear family … I wanted that for myself, plus more,” she explained. “Growing up, I used to write in journals like, ‘I’m going to be married to a guy named Josh and we’re going to have five children and I’m gonna start having kids when I’m 24’.”
Once she was dating in her 20s, Kaling decided she didn’t want to settle when it came to choosing a mate. “I would be in these relationships and in the cold light of day when I looked at them was like, ‘would this be a person who I could share a life with?’ And the answer would be ‘no’,” she said. Instead, the actress/writer/director has created a different kind of life for herself, raising her kids with the help of her dad and a nanny.
Yes, there are certain stigmas about being unmarried — but Kaling is figuring out how to navigate them. “When you’re a certain age and you’re a single woman, if you go to a party, it bums people out,” she said. “And they want to set me up with some loser they know. And I’m like, I’m okay. I’m a rich, successful woman with great clothes and a nice family.”
There is the added pressure, Kaling noted to Markle, of being Indian and being a single mother. Sometimes she worries she’s bringing shame to her family and wonders what her relatives in India think about her decision. And then there’s the existential fears too.
“The idea of like, ‘Why not me? Why am I not the person that got married?’ I think that’s harder to talk about,” Kaling said. “I’m still examining it. It makes me emotional … I do know that that would be so valuable for my kids, you know, that they have a dad. It wasn’t our lot, our family’s lot in life, and I do think about it with wistfulness and then also fear what will they think when they get older?”
Kaling is far from alone in the complex journey of raising a child without a partner. As of 2020, there are more than 18 million children living in a single-parent household, according to the Pew Research Center, and that number is continuing to rise. The Never Have I Ever creator can take heart in knowing that there are single parents who are listening to this podcast episode and feeling a lot less alone.
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