Single Parent Support

How one woman created her own support group

With divorce on the upswing and the original family foundation being divided, there is a growing population of single parents needing support and information on surviving the breakup of the classically acceptable family unit and the reincarnation into the new single parent lifestyle.

With the advent of this new family structure comes confusion and a need to find others going through the same transition who can share their experiences and gain strength together as a support system.

Single parents are no longer in the minority — in a poll taken March of 1996 – 52% of ALL parents in the United States are single parents – with different challenges than two parent homes. We are now the majority!

I was truly motivated to find some single parent support once my son Sam began school. Being newly separated, I was going through quite a bit of turmoil; in fact my head was spinning with fear, doubt and confusion. I felt alone in my challenges and my friendships had changed when my lifestyle changed from married to single.

But, dwelling on the challenges doesn’t change them – finding a solution and emotional support sustains and gives us strength to face challenges otherwise faced by two parents.

One supportive solution I have discovered is forming a single parent group within the school system. This group incorporates support for the parents, therapy groups for the children, child-care coops, lectures, seminars, social adventures, single parent discounts within the community and an emotional and career support network.

We have a monthly Forum with guest speakers and lecturers, we have counselors for the children, and we are forming issue-oriented weekly therapy groups for the adults.

I recall two years ago when I sent my son off to kindergarten, I found myself on the school playground eyeballing the ring fingers of the women and men standing around me. I was a newly single parent looking for support, and there was no way for me to discover who was a married and who was a single parent.

A year later I have surrounded myself with other female and male single parents, and have found a niche for myself and my son. And that niche is growing in size. So far we have 40 single parent men and women in our elementary school single parent group.

I was surprised to discover this group had never been organized before (even though it is no small feat). After attending a PTA meeting at our school, I was stimulated to form a single parent support group that catered to the special and individual needs of single parents…the need for child-care assistance, emotional and therapeutic support for themselves and their children, educational information in the form of lectures, training seminars, family and group activities, and social/ recreational activities for parent and child.

Our school was very receptive to the idea, and I very much encouraged other single parents and elementary schools to begin their own single parent groups. I have to admit that formation and start-up is gradual.

First you have to learn who is a single parent. I did this by creating a roster for sign-up at the PTA meetings and recruited people I knew were single parents. With the help of another very creative single mother in the school, we wrote a blurb in the school newsletter stating the formation of the group and the location of the first meeting, which was on-sight in the school library.

Our first meeting was incredible! The Vice Principal of the school (also a single mother) was there, and we had a single parent psychologist who facilitated a partial support/therapy group in the hour and a half meeting, which also included a speaker from the community. Child-care was arranged for those parents who had no alternative.

In the next monthly meeting we incorporated a support group for the children (ranging in ages from 6 to 9) in lieu of a sitter.

The adults went around the room and shared who we were, the age of our child/ren and what our direct issues and concerns were. The children, who met in another room, were split up by age, made collages about “family” and talked about their feelings on the level appropriate to their ages.

The concerns varied…the custodial father needed a female role model for his daughter; the sole support mother needed a strong role model for her son and tips on discipline and managing anger; everyone needed support regarding stress, financial issues, discipline, and re-entering the dating world. Mostly, we just needed a space to share our concerns about our children, listen for solutions and not feel so alone and isolated.

I strongly suggest those single parents looking for a supportive network start their own Single Parent Group – the benefits are gigantic and the truth is – we are a majority now!

Imagine setting up single parent groups within each school district and arranging monthly meetings for all the districts to meet and share concerns, experience and knowledge. We could really be a strong community support group… country-wide!

Tips to Single Parent Group Resources:

  • Don’t be afraid to call your favorite columnist, author or spokesperson to be a speaker in your monthly forums.
  • Also remember merchants in your favorite stores may be single parents willing to help with discounts.
  • Consider the directors of university psychology programs/clinics as excellent referral sources.
  • Contact local community newspapers or newsletters on and off-line to get the word out about your group.
  • Get tips from someone who has already established a group (or get connected with single parent groups on-line or in other communities).

Single parenthood is not a deficit…it is an opportunity to actively create extended family units that are both empowering and foundational to the future of our society. It does begin with you! begin with you!

Comments

  1. I am a singlemother,divorced March 16,2012.I was in an abusive marrige for 9 1/2 years. How could I not see that?I was blind i gather.My ex husband who wa sin teh airforce at the time, had two kids of his own, he wanted someone to actually care for them, so he lured me into what I thought”was a loving relationship” and got me preg,then married June 5,2002, a few months before our son was born.
    The abuse started with his oldest kid who was just bad all around, mouthed off, raised his hands to me more then once, fought non stop with his own brother, lied alot to his bio motehr about me to cause trouble etc.
    We moved to texas , a very small town where everyoen knew each other an dgossiped all teh time, so it was a new change.
    The abuse was so bad from 2004 through 2007,the oldest kid beat teh heck outta me, he’d throw me into walls, cursed me, yelled nasty things out a window, told his friends he beta on me”there’s no law that says I can’t beat my step mother” to bragging at school lunch he beat on me and when his friends told him that wasn’t cool he said”well it keeps her in line”,the middle kid wa sno better greta at lying to his father an dbeing his own father was told by people, police ,family that it was going on, swince his kids denied it he looked teh otehr way, it wa sjust as bad as if he laid his hands on me.
    The police were at my home from 2004 to 2006 65 times and more, I finally had enough in 2005 when teh eldest whipped me with a phone wire and I had a 14 yr old arrested, he spent 10 days in juvi, lot that did, i didn’t get to take the stand to speak up and he only got a yr probation, i was kept from family counseling as well by him, his brotehr and father,so i ahd no help.
    I seprated from my ex in 2006,i lived in a small apartment, was on food stamps and some finacial ehlp, got a small amount in child support, no help from the ex, i was alone, scared and wondering what to do next.
    Then in 2007 we tried again, what a waste of a marriage, he used me, he never loved me he wanted a maid, child care giver, cook and his sexual needs met but forget about mine, it was to teh point I said”no more” i stopped teh catering and that made him mroe mad.Then I left him august of 2011,he stalked me kinda, calling my family first, then when my so called friend told him where i was, i ran to my family, he lured me back again only this time I didn’t care, let him have his divorce, it’s what he wanted, however once a power struggle started,thats when he ran to his lawyer who had all teh paper work filed was just waiting for my ex’s call, seems i got crap, except 400 in child support a month which isn’t much take away teh 3.00 they take for records, i get 397 oh joy, he got everything, the house, motor cycles, his debts which i flat out refused to pay, eh tried useing it as a threat, if you don’t agree i’ll make you pay 10.0000 on my debts, to harassing me to agree to teh child support, lied to court about hw much money he actually gets and neve rinformed them of job changes,,I did it for him.
    Once divorced in 2012 i moevd to a two bedroom apartment, eh kept coming by when he felt like it without calling first, stalked on me, got mad when iw asn’t home, didn’t take his son for many visits or sleep overs, ignroed my son’s health when he got 5th disease and order me”to take him to a doc” however he had a truck, he has the same duties i have, i took him the next day to teh doctor, he didn’t help with anything, no school supplies, no cloths nothing.

    Since i am the parent custodial parent, i can move any where i want, set up primary residency which i have, my son loves his new shcool eh is away form the ex inlaws who ignored him and the ex, the one person whos suppose to love him, treats his own son liek he don’t exsist, eh didn’t even send him a christmas card with something in it, we had a bank savings account, he took my name off becaus enow he is getting 2.583.00 a month tax free from the goverment for va benefits, he had teh big ones to brag about it too,he has left his son and myself with very little all because he is selfish, my son doesn’t even acknowledge him as”dad” no more, i honestly belive my son is better off, my goal is to go to collage and
    learn law to helpw omen in domestic violence, to knwo what their rights are, the goverment needs to step up for mom’s liek me and give us a huge tax break once in awhile too.

    • I am in a similar boat. My husband was in the Marine Corps and is very abusive emotionally and verbally. Sometimes when he says things to me they just hurt so bad I shut down completely and just sob. I have a daughter and then we have a son together. He has been our financial backbone since we moved and I haven’t been able to find work. He always would say, “I want a divorce”, and “I love you, I’m just not in love with you”, amongst other things. I’ve been so afraid to leave because I don’t have anywhere to go and he knows that. I’ve been trying to be the good wife but all he does is keep me in the house, intimidate me, and only his name is on the bank account so I have no access to money. He filed for a divorce last year and then we decided to give it another try and boy do I feel dumb. Same stuff, different day. I don’t know what to do. I have no income, I’m not eligible for legal aide because he is not fighting me for custody, and he gets worse everyday. I’m afraid that it will escalate to violence and I don’t want to be here for that. He always says sorry but goes right back at it. I just wish I knew where I could go for help. When I ask for his help to leave he says, “when I can.” I feel trapped.

  2. Trying to figure out what to do.... says:

    Really don’t know where to begin…..have been in a loveless marriage for 20+ years. Have 2 boys– ages 27 (married) and 14. Their dad is a good dad and good provider, but there has been no love in our relationship for YEARS…..Over the years I feel that I have just become the maid/housekeeper. I do EVERYTHING (laundry, cooking, cleaning, pay the bills) as well as hold a full-time job. I have gotten to where I don’t want to be around him, don’t want him touching me, I tolerate him and him me. I wasn’t looking for any other relationship and was just resigned to my fate and trying to make the best of it due to my upbringing and religion and focus on the boys, but I went on vacation with an old friend from high school and unexpectedly reconnected with my high school sweetheart from 30 years ago. It was instant attraction all over again.

    Long story short….my sons’ father and I separated and I moved across the country to live with my former high school sweetheart for a year and a half. Happiest I have been in years! We have so much in common and love being together. I even was able to stop taking medication to help me sleep. Lived in a beautiful part of the United States and found a good job. Only problem was my younger son was now 1,000 miles away. He loved coming out to visit us over Christmas break and in the summer. He and Lee (my hs sweetheart) got along wonderfully. Lee’s adult children and I got along great as well.

    The problem came with my feelings of guilt over being so far from my 13 year old and missing all of his school activities — marching band, etc…. He never once cried or begged me to come home despite the fact that I was his primary care-giver and playmate all these years. We had and still have a good relationship. I raised my boys to be independent and well-adjusted/well-rounded. We did talk on the phone several times a week, but I missed the daily contact with him. So….I contacted his dad to see if I might go back home and try to make things work…..things haven’t worked — nothing has changed and I am more miserable now than I was before. My hs sweetheart understood my reason for trying to go back home and we didn’t have any contact the first month I was gone. I was really trying to make it work…..it hasn’t. We are both miserable apart…I miss the life we were making together — marriage was the plan. I miss the beauty of the state we lived in, my church friends I’d made, my job and co-workers. I really was making a wonderful life — it was just without my son and that was the part I struggled with so terribly.

    Well, papers will be signed before my son goes back to school in the fall.So my dilemma is do I stay here where I am miserable — There is nothing about my life here that I enjoy except my son– or do I return to my HS sweetheart and the life where I had finally found happiness and peace. Can I get through the unhappiness of being away from my son (now 14)and learn to live with seeing him 4-5 times a year? I don’t have any delusions….both my hs sweetheart and I have some baggage and neither of us is perfect.

    Please help! Need advice in the worst way! I am a good person, I’m not wild — I haven’t gone wild nor forsaken my upbringing….My former boss is willing to re-hire me, I have a wonderful church and friends out there and of course my HS sweetheart waiting……

    I might add that I have changed in the year and half I lived out West. I am surprised to find that I no longer care anything about the next bigger house, the new vehicle…I love spending time hiking in the mountains, fishing in mountain lakes, camping, photographing wildlife…I had no idea that girl was inside me…..but I really like her…..

  3. Luanne Van Diepen says:

    Your details are similar to mine in many ways. I’m just st gonna be frank…..don’t do it. Your son may seem okay w/your newfound happiness but believe me, it WILL hurt him and it come out in many unfortunate ways. Your son is your child, your flesh and blood. Parenting is about sacrifice and your son needs to come 1st before your new love. Your boy may b ed a teenager but he stills needs you present in his daily life. Don’t underestimate your power and importance as a mother! If your hs sweetheart really loves you and wants to make a life with YOU, then he should be willing to wait for you to complete the equipping, training, nurturing part of motherhood readying your boy to go out on his own and make it in this life when it’s time. Trust me, putting your child first, even if he is encouraging you that he’s “ok” and that you should move on and be happy, is something you won’t regret.

    Praying for you.

  4. Luanne Van Diepen says:

    P.S.

    I do want to say though that God, jn His mercy, gavd me 2 precious babies w/my 2nd husband and they are my everything! I would not do it differently if I could because of them. However, I do think perhaps the indescribable suffocating pain I endured/ endure at the hand of my now EX-husband I can use to minister to/assist other women about to go down similar paths. My euphoria of finally feeling happy, beautiful and desired by a man, loved, wanted, needed that “truly appreciated” my love and care of him blinded me and made it easy to excuse away his behavior that should have major red flags to me. I was deceived and couldn’t see he was a brilliant, deceptive, narcissistic, sociopath using me for his supply. His verbal, emotional, phsycolgical abuse was like living through a near constant personal terrorist attack. He was abusive on every imagineable level except for physical, which took a HEAVY physical toll anyway. He would abandon us often, disowned the kids, while spreading awful lies about me in our small community and so severely neglected our care that even though he’d earn $140k/year, the kids and I had to survive on welfare. He stashed money away to divorce me & buy a shark of an attorney who could successfully sell an image to the judge that he was a poor father being alienated from his children to get 50% custody for the monthly percentage reduction off of child support he’d be required to pay me. In the trial, he got away w/all the abuse & got everything he wanted and then some.

    I’m sure many gals can testify to wonderful 2nd marriage experiences and that is so fantastic. I guess my point is…..when you’ve got a young man, your son still at home, leaving him for a chance at a new life of long awaited love and happiness may be risking more than your now-happy-heart can see.

    Again, you’re in my prayers.

  5. Luanne Van Diepen says:

    P.S.S. I’m sorry….I’m not too tech saavy. My 2 previous comments were meant to be replies directly to the poster, “Trying to figure out what to do…..”.

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