By Sherry Brantley
After having been married for seven years and becoming a single parent when my girls were 2, 4, and 6 years of age. I know full well how challenging it can be to go it alone. Since my husband didn’t work, I was not able to receive any form of child support for our three girls. For single mothers, always keep an open communication with your child/children regarding your love for them and stress how they can come to you to express their feelings of being separated from their dad. Sincerely try not to speak negatively regarding their dad—period, especially in front of them, and don’t sit idly by while allowing others to do so. Try to maintain a healthy, respectful relationship with your ex-spouse. If this is not possible at times, suggest he speak directly with the kids and remove yourself from a negative situation in a positive way. Perhaps you can agree to a safe and neutral drop off and pick-up point when exchanging the children from one place to another for visits. Be prompt and specific when talking of times and places to do this. Once you begin thinking ahead on these and other issues, you’ll be able to come up with positive solutions that will benefit everyone involved.
I must state: This in no way mean I advocate for or against separations or divorce. However I have seen atrocities subjected upon women for many reasons and many decades with the rationalization by many that because one is married, one must endure and therefore continue in such an environment. This simply is not true and people, women especially, need to be told this.
In an ideal society, children would have what they need—both parents. Many times I get an outburst of indignation from single female heads of households when I make that statement. I certainly am not looking to alienate this particular group. As is common knowledge, through divorce, I too, am a single parent and know firsthand the challenges being in this position entails. But the simple truth is: Children get or ‘learn’ certain qualities from both parents. This applies to girls as well as boys. I have said many times in my seminars that although a mother can teach a boy manners, respect, a good work ethic, and all the other things we’d like them to exhibit, a woman simply cannot teach a boy to be a man. We need men to do that part of the teaching. We have not had the male experience. We can’t know what it’s like to experience the many changes their voices and bodies go through. Try as we may we can’t fully appreciate when they first begin to become attracted to females—sometimes based solely on physical attributes. We can certainly talk with them, express to them what we think they may be experiencing as best we can, but we cannot fully understand how they think, feel or relate to their experiences. Let’s face it, there are some issues a male child would feel more comfortable talking with a male adult figure with. Not as an offense to the mom, but simply because he may feel we truly cannot, no matter how much we’d like to, understand the significance of his particular situation. And while I’m advocating men are needed here, the key word is ‘men.’ Not everyone that is a male—is a man! A man is one who shows his respect for himself by extending that respect to others. One who honors his word and has integrity in the world. In short, the type of male role models you want your male children to emulate. Someone whose ethics and morality you’d be proud for your children to possess.
And although we can teach girls to be women, girls derive certain qualities or teachings from their dads that we aren’t able to give. When a dad or significant male figure is absent from a girls’ household, girls oftentimes look for acceptance and appreciation from other males. A dad can teach a girl that no matter what she may experience or go through, she has his unconditional love and support. This keeps girls from looking for male love in all the wrong places. With a strong, positive, role model, father figure in the picture, girls have less of a need to ‘prove their love or self-worth to other males.’ Mothers can teach girls how to respect themselves and others, but a dad can show girls how a man should really treat someone that he loves on a daily basis. Fathers can show how a family should be supported not just financially, but mentally and spiritually as well. Another advantage to having a two-parent household deals with issues of stress, time, and the feelings of being alone as we do the ‘solo parent role’. Try as we may, when we have two or more children and both have a special event simultaneously, we cannot be two places at once. We must choose which will take precedence, while trying to keep a balanced schedule of events that would be fair for each child. With two parents, whether they are both in the same household or not, the opportunity at least exists whereby each parent could attend an event.
Flying solo means attempting to be involved in school events and other outside activities at different levels with siblings that are at different ages and stages in life. I was at a point in my life where I had a child in high school, one in middle school and one in elementary. A juggling act for sure, when it comes to attending parent teacher conferences.
After a period of time, this could, (but not necessarily) lead to heightened feelings of stress, resulting in other health related issues for the single parent. And frankly, there are times when single parents sincerely want to share life’s ups and downs with a partner. Someone to celebrate the family events and happenings as well as someone to bounce ideas from, assist in the rearing of children and many of the other decision making processes that having a family entails. Both parents add to and enhance the lifestyle and environment of the child when they both can contribute in positive, healthy ways to their upbringing. But when this is not the case, when you find yourself in a situation where either you or your children are constantly being abused, and/or neglected on a regular basis, then perhaps you may want to look at your beliefs and re-examine which ones you are clinging to. It has been said that everything that happens in our lives, we either promote, create or allow. Whenever you find yourself in situations that you prefer not to experience, ask yourself this question. What responsibility do I have in creating this particular circumstance to occur in my life? Am I allowing it? Creating it? Or promoting it? Then depending upon your answer, determine if you need to do something differently, or decide on a way to reach a resolution—and then, take action! What are you creating in your life?
Sherry Brantley is the author of several books, including the Best-selling author of STEPP- Start To Exercise Personal Power—How To Create Positive Change In Your Life! She is a dynamic leader and trainer, specializing in the areas of Goal-Setting and Goal-GETTING! Her website is sherrybrantley.com and email is email@example.com.
This column was printed in the June 26, 2016 - July 9, 2016 edition.