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For Single Parent Families

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In September, Single Parents, among other families, are experiencing the “Back to School” Bliss, or is it better said, “Back to School” Blues!

I always, always hated being separated from my son.   I was always wanting to be the best ROOM MOM at school, or TEAM MOM in his activities.   I wanted to be there when the CARPOOL LANE opened. But, the fact is, I WAS WORKING. Working, Working, Working, and then there was, well – Working.

My son, was often the last kid to be picked up. His mom was never there for class parties, cub scout popcorn sales rallies, or soccer practices.   I relied on “my village”.   In fact, I thank God for that precious village of people and families who surrounded him, and in turn, who surrounded me.

People from school, sports teams, church, and daycare who went the extra mile to help my son and I overcome the odds personally. I see their faces, and remember wanting to contribute so much more than I did.   Don’t get me wrong – I brought orange slices to the games, and attended a few things, but always carried guilt when I didn’t really have the skill set or the band width to be the “parent” I wanted to be during the school year.

This year, my son is going into his senior year of High School.   He has big dreams, and a strong foundation that is built on this foundation of love and community. If you were to meet him, you would see that God has moved mountains for him through the people I let into his life.

Many single parents; however, isolate. It is common that this happens due to lack of resources (time & money) – and also due to guilt and possibly shame.

My heart goes out to parents who stack the cards against themselves.   While I know the “why” behind this behavior is noble – it is not really effective in raising our children with a positive and productive legacy.   They need to be empowered to go beyond what we can often achieve “for” them. They need us to reach out and use our resources and welcome safe and inspiring members of a “village”.   In fact, the truth is, we (single parents) truly need the same. We need empowerment and assistance to go beyond what we can often do “alone.”

So, if you are a ministry leader, team mom, or a room mom – how can you help?   I would encourage you to create ways for single families to participate in your respective communities that are achievable for their family style.   For instance, is there something they can do at home to help prepare for group events that don’t cost a lot of time or money, but are significant to their child’s environment? This helps build self-worth in the parents, and also in the children.   It is very important.

And, if you are a single parent, possibly having similar feelings, I have a word of advice for you – GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!   You are likely working at your job, working at your home, and contributing incredible amounts toward your own “village” at home.   This is a huge task and an incredible achievement.   One of my favorite reminders is a picture frame that I got.   I put a photo of my son and I in it that was taken when we became a single family. It says, “A Family is a little world created by Love”.   Let me encourage you to let the people around you into that special little world so that together, you and your child can reach beyond any limitations you may be experiencing, and leave a positive and productive legacy that you are excited about.

 

Me and Chris when he was young family defined online

 

 

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Successful ParentsIt’s 7am, my son knocking on my bedroom door: “Mom, I need a Christmas shirt - do you have one I can wear to school today?”
Quickly I run to my closet and dig through shirts, gym clothes, and unmentionables to find nothing; my insides stirring, I look up and see it - The Answer! Quickly I leap across the living room and grab last year’s Santa hat and reindeer antlers draped on the mantle and rush to present them to my son; after a few seconds inspection he says, “… I guess that will work…” and walks out to his car, tie-dyed backpack on his shoulder and festive hat/antlers on his head. After we trade caring “Love You’s”, I hang for a second on the moment – a pause to watch him get in his car and drive away. I think about how he’s always been flexible with me, as if he just knows I am doing all I can for him, and for all of us. My mom-eyes fill with mom-tears, and I’m forced to let the moment go and rush off to work myself.

 

This year, at our annual Christmas Banquet for Single Parent Advocate, our topic was heroes. We asked parents and children to identify the heroes in their lives.

Hero: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

Many families talked about their coaches, teachers, parents, and role models at work or in other places of their lives. Some turned to their faith and express God’s heroism, of course.

But I could not help but think about our children – the kids raised in single parent homes. There are so very many of them. 25% of America’s youth, in fact. These kids stick it out with their parents in overcoming significant loss, crushing economic challenges, and time crunches that keep them racing and sometimes on the sidelines at school and in life.

While there are many statistics that talk about the negatSingle Parent Children are not Hopless they are heroesive things that become of children raised in a single parent home, I have to say, that while those things might be true – there is an alternative occurring. It is very real.

Many kids raised in single parent homes overcome incredible odds and become incredibly successful, creative, responsible, and cooperative human beings filled with grace and resourcefulness. What a gift to us. Our children truly are our greatest gift. I acknowledge them for being brave, for never giving up, for always being understanding.

So, this Christmas, we may not have been able to give the exact things we want to give, or our kids had in mind to receive. And this may really bother us, just like it did me earlier today when I couldn’t find a shirt for my son. If that is the case, I hope we can grow past it, and remember what heroes our kids are, and what gifts they are to us. I hope we are brave, and we ask for help in providing for their needs and wants from God and from area resources.

But I also hope, we are humble, and give them the gift of recognition – and acknowledge what is good in them. Give them the gift our time and attention. Listen to their hopes and dreams. And above all else, give them the gift of Faith, and fill them full of God’s Word and His promises.

• Proverbs 17:6 (NIV)
Childrenʼs children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

• Psalm 127:3 (NIV)
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

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Fathers Day for Single ParentsAfter many years of being a single mother, I have been looking back on my thoughts about Father's Day.   If I am truthful, it has been a difficult day for me, and I can see it is also a difficult day for many others.

You see, my son was born on Father’s Day weekend. Each year, I re-focused my whole heart and mind on my son’s birthday, and avoided Father’s Day, because of the absence his dad has in our lives, and the far distance we live from my own dad. It just was easier to send a card, and place a nice phone call to my dad, and then just avoid Father’s Day as a whole; then party on with birthday fun and festivities.

But now, I am re-married. My husband invests in my son, and in our home, and I want to make Father’s Day an occasion for him. And, my dad, although still far away, is more important to me than a phone call and card can express, and I want him to know how much I love him.

So, I am changing, and I am growing, but I have still find myself struggling with Father’s Day.

Maybe I am over complicating things, but between my volunteer work with Single Parent Advocate and the families we care about, and my own life, I have had to answer questions of all kinds, like: Who should we involve/honor? What do we do or say that is meaningful? When should we connect? Where is the best place to eat? How should we celebrate? What should we give? ….all these are questions being asked by many people. It is unexpectedly complicated. So, on this Father’s Day, I invite you to explore this with me.  

Who should we honor?   This question has been a loaded one.   Many children grow up with no father in the home, so it is a question that is not easily answered by all. We honor Fathers, Step Fathers, Grand Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Ministers, Caregivers, Coaches, Teachers and/or Managers. Even Single Moms acting as “both” parents have been brought to my attention. I think we should honor fathers of all kinds; however, I agree with the idea that Father’s Day is the time of year we honor our Male Role Models. If you ask yourself and/or your child(ren) who are the male role models in life that make them/you feel safe, special, smart, and hopeful, you will know who to honor in addition to the biological fathers and grandfathers, etc.

What do we do or say that is meaningful? I am going to speak for my own dad and my husband here – and tell you that quality focused time together with a good meal means the most. In the case of a male role model, a special note and/or thank you card alongside a nice phone call might be the best approach.   I have even thought about framed photos, certificates/awards, and/or gift cards.   One question I have asked myself is to take time to notice more of the little things that the men in our lives do, and acknowledge them, thank them, and bless them with recognition and something to remember that by.

When should we connect? Where is the best place to eat? How should we celebrate? What should we give? All of these questions are important, but if we start with the small stuff, we will never get to the significant.   All of these types of things are the small stuff, really.   Our dads just want to be loved, and need to be reminded of how important they are to us.  

God, the Father, and Father’s Day? I am also going to say something along the spiritual lines here as we are reflecting on Father’s Day.   In sharing our family’s story, I shared about my dad, my husband, my son, his dad, and now I will share something heavenly that has been a truth in our lives as well.   My son and I would go to church and I would be reminded of a scripture in the Bible that tells us that God is a father to the fatherless, and a husband to widows. I have always found comfort in that promise.   I have reminded my son of this, and told him that he has a Heavenly Father that is always by his side, by our sides. This is a truth for us that not only has been an incredible comfort, it has also been an incredible reality from practical perspectives. So many worries have been wilted by our answered (and some unanswered) prayers.   So on Father’s Day, it is also very appropriate to pay tribute to God for His love and faithfulness too.

If your father is missing in your life, it is difficult to identify with these thoughts.   It is also frankly very surprisingly emotional to think about Father’s Day. But I encourage you, to redirect any negative thoughts or emotions and do something positive by acknowledging the male role models in your life on this day. You could not only improve your own reality, you could really impact the world around you with positive and life giving change.

Huffington Post has a great article about Single Dads I recommend everyone read.   You can CLICK HERE to see it – it is called “12 Things No One Ever Tells You About Being A Single Dad”.  

To all of the single dad’s out there, and all the male role models for our kids who also mean so much – Happy Father’s Day!! We honor you!! Let’s make it a good one!

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Great Reads:  Finances Aren’t The Only Consideration Single Parents Face When Choosing a College for Their Child

Finances are a huge concern when choosing a college for your child when you’re a single parent. You worry how you are going to pay for all the expenses: tuition, books, housing, meals, transportation and more. Can you find scholarships for your child so they can attend the school of their choice?


The safety of your child should also be at the top of your list of considerations. You’ve seen the headlines: school shootings, sexual assaults, underage drinking and more. Colleges want to downplay the crimes on their campuses so they can attract the best and brightest students.

Do you Know how to Find a School’s Crime Statistics?

You won’t find the information on the Home Page of the college’s website. You may be met with reluctance or blank stares if you ask for that information in person. In the book Stay Safe on Campus, the author, Marcia E. Kelley, tells you how to find this valuable information. “You may need to dig to find the security and crime statistics information for your desired school. Check under Campus Police, Security, Student Services, Admissions, or just type in “security” into the Search box on the school’s home page.”


Why is this important? Jeanne Clery was a student at LeHigh University in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The Clery family had decided that Jeanne should go to a different school than her two older brothers, who attended Tulane in New Orleans, because a murder had occurred near that campus. Her parents thought Tulane was “too dangerous” for their daughter. She was raped, and then murdered, in her dorm room in 1986 by another student . The Clery’s later discovered there had been 38 violent crimes at LeHigh in the previous three years. In 1988, Pennsylvania created an act requiring schools to make crime statistics from the last three years available to the public. The Clery family later created a non-profit advocacy group called Security on Campus.


There are other dangers to be considered as well. Do you have a child with food and beverage sensitivities? Do you have a child with a disability? Do you have a child facing sexual orientation challenges?


Prepare yourself and your child. Stay safe on campus.


Go to Amazon Smile, choose Single Parent Advocate as your charity of choice and a portion of your Amazon purchases will support this organization every time you shop.

Stay Safe on Campus was written by Marcia E. Kelley in November, 2015 and is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats. Kindly leave a review.

 

 Peterson, M. (2011, April 5). Murder at Lehigh University Shocked the Nation 25 Years ago. Patch

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Each single parent family is different. The specific challenges are always unique to the family, yet there are some common themes with most around not enough time, money or emotional support. As a single mother for 10+ years, have had many of the same challenges.

In this series, I'll share what I've learned along the way and hope it can help you too as you successfully single parent your family.

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