Is this single mom thing easy? Hell no! Will it ever be easy? Maybe not, but it can and will get better. You’re struggling with feelings that have never before been experienced. Emotionally, you’re drained and your mental health is feeling the pressure. Even if you could forget about your emotions for a second, you’re more worried about your children. This separation has not been easy.
For a myriad of reasons, you have decided to call it quits with your ex. You and your children are not coping well with the grief, among many other things. Things have surfaced that you never imagined. For starters, the co-parenting guidelines you and your ex agreed on are suddenly not good enough for him. You’re being harassed by your ex in-laws. Add to the mix that two weeks after you and the kids left, your ex brought in a girlfriend. She doesn’t have children of her own and the time your kids spend with her is wearing on you. Rules are not consistent from one home to the other and you’re quite ready to just throw in the towel, pack the kids up, and find a one way ticket to Outer Space. Surely the aliens will understand and help, right?
To say the split has been anything less than traumatic would be a lie. The whole situation has you upset and uptight. You’re not happy; forget about smiling. The thing that hurts the most is watching your children act out due to pain. You have noticed that your happiness is not the only thing lacking. Your kids are showing signs of aggression, poor behavior, and you’ve heard from teachers that they are struggling with academics. It’s time to seek professional help before the lives of everyone you love spiral out of control and into oblivion.
Your kids, just like you, may naturally experience moments of highs and lows. These moments will no doubt alter moods and actions. If, given some time, you’re noticing that these behaviors are swinging the pendulum to land on more negatives than positives, then it is time to look elsewhere for guidance. It’s a difficult decision and one that is leaving you feeling more like a failure than ever before, but please, it’s important to recognize that there are professionals in this area who went to school for a long time studying and learning how to help you. Give them a chance. It shows your strength as a parent if you can swallow your pride and do whatever it takes to help your family.
In a perfect world (let’s face it, this is far from it), children have basic needs. They have a loving family and said love is given without conditions. They need to feel safe. The environment they call home should be consistent and with guidelines and expectations. They need to feel heard and their emotions desire to be validated. Of course, they need food, shelter, and clothing. What they crave, though, is positive attention and role models who support them and provide stability. Knock one of those factors off-kilter, and it could feel to the child that their entire world is crashing quickly.
So what’s next? You feel like you’ve done all you can do to create a stable and love-filled environment, but the second it all seems like it’s going well, it crashes in an instant. You’re trying to do it all alone, and against all odds. There are resources available to you. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to find help for you and your kids for little to no money, or even free - check out the Resources tab at the top of the page. Begin to build a network of support. Have a look-see at some options.
This avenue is sometimes overlooked by parents. Depending on the age of your child, he/she may feel uncomfortable asking for help. It’s important to instill the idea of self-advocacy in children so they begin to empower themselves at an early age. If they need help seeking help, be a guide. If they’re not willing to speak to the school counselor alone, then help them. Make an appointment and see if the school counselor has any advice or would be willing to help your child. Something important to remember is to follow up both with the guidance counselor and your child.
Therapist / Counselor
While your child may be seeking advice from a professional within the walls of his school, why not take the same steps for yourself? Sure, you are an adult and are thinking you should be able to handle all of this on your own, right? You have friends, after all, who lend an ear when it's needed. That very well may be working right now, but you may find that someone outside the circle of events and who is unbiased might provide a better opportunity for you to really reach inside and be honest. Find someone who is professionally trained to be a stellar listener, who can help you get to the root of what’s bothering you, and help you with solutions to move beyond the challenges towards positive changes in your life.
Types of Therapy
Types of Professionals
Obviously, there are many different avenues for therapeutic support. It’s important to do a little research before selecting the one that fits your needs. (You’re not stuck with the first one you try if it’s not a good fit.) There’s a common stigma surrounding the idea of seeing a therapist and that is that they only work with those who show signs of mental illness. This, in fact, couldn’t be further from the truth. Life has seasons and you may be in and out of emotional rollercoasters lately. Allow someone to help you conquer your life. It’s part of taking care of yourself in order to be the best version of you for your children.
Prepare for more than a session or two. It will take some time for you to feel completely comfortable divulging all that is in your heart. You’ll benefit from your sessions if you give it some time. Let the professional do the job she trained for. Together, you’ll come up with the best plan for your future for you and your kids.
Speaking of your children, it’s absolutely possible that seeking help within the education system may be enough. However, if the timing is inconvenient (summer months) or you’re not seeing positive changes in your child, you should feel comfortable seeking additional resources. The same types of therapists are available for your child, though some do specialize in helping children.
We recognize the struggles you’re faced with. We understand and so do professionals. For the health and happiness of yourself and your children, it could benefit you to seek help from a therapist or counselor. Don’t discount the services that can be provided to you. It may help make all the difference in you and your kids. Think of it as an investment; it’ll be very worth it!