The Most Valuable Commodity For Single Parents Are Other Single Parents
When I was 10, after my parents divorced, my mother basically became a single parent, raising four kids practically on her own. I still don't know how she managed at times, working and going to school, while raising the four of us. The one thing I can say that made a huge difference was the fact that even before Hillary Clinton spoke about "It takes a village," we literally had a village. It seemed as though, everyone on our street pitched in to help everyone else out. There were other single parent households, where at any given moment, you could find parents babysitting neighborhood kids. There were times when a random parent would take us out with their children to give my mother a break, and my mother would do the same in return.
Ten years ago, I became a single parent, due to unforeseen circumstances in my relationship. I was 23 years old, a recent college graduate and living on my own. I realized that life after my son wouldn't be so easy, but I knew that if my mother was able to handle four children, that one shouldn't be a problem for me.
Thankfully, I had a network of family members around me who helped me along the way. For the first three years of my son's life, not only did he have myself as a mother, but he had my two sisters and his grandmother as mothers. To say that I probably wouldn't have survived those three years, getting my career started and raising a child without their help, is an understatement.
By the time my son was four, I decided it would benefit me if I moved out of the area I was living in, even though it meant leaving my support circle. Even though I had a few family members in Maryland, I knew it wouldn't compare to the help I was receiving in New Jersey.
As I got settled in Maryland, I knew that if I was going to learn the ins and outs of the area, in regards to schools and such, I would have to find other people in the same predicament. Eventually, thanks to the good ole internet, I found a support group for single parents that consisted of men and women who were raising their child(ren) on their own. These parents proved to be a lifesaver. Many of them were already accustomed to the area and knew which schools to recommend, as well as activities for my son.
To this day, I'm still friends with many of the single parents I associated with when I first moved to Maryland. To this day, I realize that networking with other single parents was the best thing I could have done. Not only can you share your own experiences and issues, but you can also learn from others in situations similar to your own.
Do you have a network that helps you manage single parenthood?