This past Father’s Day, a number of the participants at a gym where I teach yoga, wished me a Happy Father’s Day. At first, I thought they were confused, but then I realized they recognized my dual role – that of both a mother and father to my daughter. My perplexity only lasted a second or two before I embraced the idea and acknowledged my twin roles. In reality, I had assumed those responsibilities years ago; I don’t think I ever openly acknowledged it. But as a single parent, I also have the responsibility of ensuring my daughter knows her father and spends time with him. Initially, my annoyance and anger at him made that difficult to do, but losing that rage, and coming to grips with the fact that the relationship between him and me would not work, has helped immensely.
Child support does provide much-needed income for single-parent families (See the Child Support Fact Sheet Series edited by Dennis Putze. But, if you’re a parent who doesn’t want, or cannot afford to involve the courts in your personal affairs, for any number of reasons, (hassles and delays, embarrassment, financial issues, governmental conspiracy theories, etc.), working out an agreement with your ex can help single parenting run more smoothly. The National Kids Count Data Center in Baltimore numbered 24,444,000 children in the United States in 2015, of those, 35% were being raised in single-parent households. Those numbers mean that nearly half of this country’s children would benefit if their parents maintained contact and a decent relationship.
Single parenthood – one broke, overly tired, and frightened parent raising one or several children by herself with little hope of success. That outdated idea of single parenthood is far less prevalent today than it was in the past. Raising children alone doesn’t have to sound a death knell. Rather, it means being mature enough to push hurt aside and engage in serious conversation with your ex-partner about how to parent going forward. And here’s another thing, single parenting doesn’t mean just mothers are parenting alone these days. Statistics indicate that less than half of single parents are fathers, so some dads are accepting responsibility for their offspring as well.
Seriously, it really is not just about you anymore. It’s not that you’re unimportant. After all, you’re both mother and father. Rather, it means that you recognize your child needs nurturing, guidance, security, love; and yes, male and female role models. With that in mind, you have every reason to stay in touch with your ex-partner if at all possible.
Several years ago, Sheila became a single mother after a medical insurance exam revealed her husband had been unfaithful with multiple partners. Their divorce was finalized years later, and she continued to allow him to visit their young sons at her home. Her friends couldn’t understand it. “Why? How could you allow him in your presence?” They asked. She calmly explained that he was her boys’ father and that the kids’ feelings had nothing to do with hers. “They need a relationship with their father,” she said firmly.
See part 2 of Single Parenting: Meeting Your ‘Ex” in the Middle.
Originally published at www.lifecoachmarcia.com