Parenting. It’s one of those hot topics. Everyone has an opinion, and we’re each passionate about our own. After all, we love our kids, and we love our parents, right? (RIGHT???) Too often, people are quick to judge other parents’ actions and motives. This seems especially true from the standpoint of a single parent.
A while ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to attend a lunch for a support group. It was a gathering of mostly newly separated and/or divorced people, some parents. Many of them were still “shell shocked” by their newfound situation. I didn’t feel like I needed a support group at the time and told her so. Laughing, she replied, “Oh, I know you don’t need us, but these people will feel better hearing YOUR story and knowing you survived!”
So here I am, sharing my story a piece at a time, in the hopes that I can offer some solace to others. Some might say divorced or single parenthood (however you may arrive there) is an epidemic, but it’s certainly not a disease. I’m no victim, I’m not broken, and I don’t think for a second that I have it worse than anyone else. Did I “go through hell,” as I mentioned last month? Sure. But don’t we all at some point? The trick is simply coming out the other side intact.
I first sought out Single Parents of the Triangle for my daughter, who, barely 4 at the time, thought there was something wrong with her because “Mommy and Daddy don’t live together anymore.” Even at such a young age, we can suffer from the judgment of others.
Now, two years stronger, we both know better than to judge anyone else, or to let anyone else’s opinions get to us. I hope to instill these values in my son as well. (Right now he’s young enough that we’re still working on “we don’t bite our friends,” but hey, it’s a start!).
I encourage the kids to understand that everyone has a story. For now, this might just mean the bedtime stories we read, but I hope I can help them grow up with a strong sense of empathy and a healthy dose of self esteem.
So far I think we’re writing a good story.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She also is organizer for Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly on Wednesday.