This is the first in a series of articles that I wrote for a Feature Writing class at Kennesaw State University in the Fall 2002 semester. The link where the article was originally published can be found at the bottom of this entry. Feel free to comment. (Also keep in mind that any links at this point may or may not be accurate.)

Single parents breaking the traditional family mold

By Brekke Ferguson

Cheyenne is five years old. Her parents are divorced, and her father shows little interest in her life or her brother’s life. On parent teacher night, her mother Kelly was speaking with Cheyenne’s teacher about “Doughnuts for Dad” day. Most people would think that since Kelly is a single mother, she would be allowed to attend the event with her daughter.

Most people would be wrong. Kelly was informed by her daughter’s teacher that this was an event for the children to have a male figure attend, and that it would not be proper for Kelly to attend herself.  Instead of thinking about the child, all the teacher could think about was that Kelly’s attendance would be improper.

Single parents are both the mother and the father. Their role is to care for their child’s needs, provide love and support, and provide the best atmosphere for their children to grow up in.  Thirty-eight percent of single parent families are from divorced couples, and 35 percent are from never-married parents according to a brief issued by the US Census Bureau in September of 1997.

Single parents fall outside the “traditional” family sphere, yet this is no reason to discriminate against them or their children. After all, children should be the people who matter, and their well-being should be the focus, versus the idea of “traditional” and “non-traditional” spheres.

On the upside, single parenting is not all hardship. Because people so often just see the difficulties, it often comes as a surprise that many single moms and dads find being a single parent rewarding. One mom, Jennifer, mother of a two-year-old girl, said, “It’s a bigger reward than a two-parent family, because it is all yours for the taking – the joys and the sorrows. It’s not easy, but nothing easy is truly worth it.”

Single parenting isn’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination. One person must take up the responsibility of two people, often having to juggle to find time for full-time work, housework, alone time, and, most importantly, time with their kids. Some parents even add the pursuit of a college degree to the mix. With all of this responsibility, it is easy to feel isolated and alone.

Thankfully, there is hope and help. For instance, there are many Internet resources online for single parents and for two-parent households. Parenting is a tough, often thankless job, and sometimes parents need a helping hand.  Here are a few examples of the resources available:

M.O.M.S. – Moms on a Mission Single is one such organization, “dedicated to providing resources, support and information to all single parents.” With several options for communicating, such as an e-mail mailing list, message boards, and chat rooms, there is definitely a great base here. The mailing list is especially helpful with questions and support. (http://www.singlemoms.org)

Making Lemonade – The Single Parent Network is another such organization: Created by Jody Seidler, Making Lemonade offers helpful advice and humor; they also have a mailing list and a newsletter. (http://www.makinglemonade.com/)

Parents Without Partners – P.W.P.: An international, non-profit organization, PWP works to get single parents together by having chapters located around the world. Looking for a support group in your area, check outhttp://www.parentswithoutpartners.org/ for more information.

La Leche League: This group provides support for breast-feeding mothers. La Leche League began in 1956, and has chapters in most cities around the country, and also in other countries as well. One of the most easily recognized names in the mother support field. (http://www.lalecheleague.org/)

There are countless other resources available, and a quick Internet search can guide one in the right direction. The real point, particularly for single parents, is this: Do not feel alone for one more day. Reach out and find support, because, chances are, there are other people in the same position as you, and often they have the same questions you have.

All parents move along a road of ups, downs, and in-betweens. There is no such thing as an easy parenthood. Parenthood turns one’s life on end, and one has to start over with the appearance of a child. Whether you are a single parent or in a two-parent relationship, the journey is very similar, and it is important to find support, and to support each other.

Remembering that single parents are in the same game, and that they need the same help along the way, helps us all. The focus should be on the children, not on the supposed mistakes a single mom or dad made, or on why a marriage didn’t work. Children need support, and helping support all parents is a big step in ensuring that children receive what they need to grow into healthy and happy adults.

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Brekke Ferguson is a single mother of six-month-old Kerowyn.  She is an active writer, and an active participant in several single parent groups.

Copyright © 2002 by Brekke Ferguson.  All rights reserved.

 

http://www.kennesaw.edu/themagazine/Ferguson1.htm

 

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