Stacy has been separated from her husband for three months. He cheated on her, but is fighting her for sole custody of their two young sons. Stacy feels completely alone and has no family to offer support. She’s working as many part time jobs as she can, and each day she picks up her boys from school, she smiles at them and asks them about their day. She has no idea how she’ll find the money to hire an attorney to fight for custody, but she will do anything.
Sixteen years into their marriage, Jen and Max have decided to call it quits. Neither is happy anymore and now that their daughter is starting high school, they have agreed to get a divorce. They are still friends and Max has decided he won’t stand in Jen’s way when it comes to their daughter. He’s even agreed to pay more than enough in child support.
Tiffany is thirty-two. She has struggled with a drug addiction since high school, but has been clean for six years. Her husband is an alcoholic and in a fit of rage recently, he violently shoved Tiffany down the stairs in their apartment complex. To add to the drama, the baby they’re fostering and planning to adopt is showing signs of neurological disorders. Between Tiffany fighting for her sobriety, taking the baby to medical appointments, and keeping herself safe from her drunk husband, she feels like she’s losing it all. She is looking for answers as she fears what she cannot control.
Lucy and Eric were high school sweethearts. They got married when they were nineteen and didn’t waste any time beginning a family. Six kids and 11 years later, any onlooker could tell that this was a picture-perfect family. It was perfect until Eric lost his life in a tragic car accident as he was coming home from work one afternoon. In an instant, her whole world changed. Lucy is now left alone to raise their children.
As you can see, each journey to single-parenthood is different. Some have very clear cut paths while others suffer tragedy, loss, and much heartache only to arrive at loneliness. Money problems, infidelity, incompatibility, and addiction only scratch the surface when it comes to reasons as to why relationships become rocky and end. It’s for this very reason that you can’t compare your situation to your friend’s. While we can agree that each journey is different, here’s some common advice from those who have experienced the single parent life for a while.
Nuggets of Wisdom
(from those who’ve traveled this road)
*Focus on your children. They should be the reason you want to give them a better life.
*Lean on others for support. Friends, family, a counselor.
*Forgive yourself for the past. Focus on the future.
*Keep the opinions of others at bay. You have to do what you feel is right.
*Try to remain positive as often as possible. Negativity will continue to eat at you.
*If possible, try to work towards a mutual partnership with your ex. It’s for the kids’ sake.
*Remember to make time for yourself. Self-care is important for your sanity.
*Come up with a sensible routine and follow through with it. Kids need stability.
*No trash talking about your ex - especially if your kids are in earshot.
*Give yourself a break and stop being so hard on yourself.
*Think optimistically about the future. It’s yours to mould!
*When you’re ready, don’t be afraid to date. (Just don’t rush this step. It’s okay to be single.)
*Stop feeling guilty about what has happened. You’re here now. Pave a path for a bright future.
*Your life will go on. Even though it may suck right now, better days are in store. Hang in there.
*As much as possible, be involved and fair with your kids. They desire your presence and your interest in them.
*You are the rock in your little family now. Show your strength even on difficult days.
*Look at things through the perspectives of your children. Their viewpoints should matter.
*Use every possible opportunity to show your kids how much you love them. Don’t just tell them. Show them.
*Make it a point to have fun with your kids. Smile always and laugh often.
As you continue your own unique journey and try to navigate the rough waters, remember that you are your best asset. Sure, we can list these tips from others who’ve experienced similar things, but you’re likely going to come by your own set of rules that work for you. Don’t be afraid to try something new. When you lie your head down at night and you can admit that you’re doing everything you can to keep your family from coming apart at the seams, then you are doing your job.
Be proud of your bravery and keep those kiddos first. Embrace this new path and make the most of each day.
by Lyric Anders, writer