Welcome back! This series is going to encompass candid conversations about what it means to be a single parent. We will cover the emotional aspects, the financial implications, the misconceptions, the mental and physical aspects, and much more. As a parent of two African American adult males, now in their early 20’s, I’d like to share some information that may help you along the way. Yes, I was part of the teen pregnancy epidemic, so I had an early start. My children and I grew up together. During this series, you will hear the perspectives of single parents and married parents in regards to child rearing practices that work and some that didn’t work.
What Does Single Parenting Mean to You?
Being a parent is one of the most challenging, rewarding things that I have ever done in my life. However, I don’t feel that way every day, and it’s okay if you don’t. You are allowed to take a mental break, meditate, or just breathe. Being a single parent presents a different set of issues. Did I mention that my children are young black men? Our community alone presents a different set of challenges that don’t apply to other ethnicities. People think that as children get older, life gets easier. News flash, it doesn’t. Sure they can use the bathroom on their own, put their clothes on, pay bills and are gainfully employed, however, they still need parental guidance to prevent them from making mistakes. The tone of our conversations has changed as they became adults. Instead of telling them what to do, I try to share personal experiences with them as to why something may be a good or bad idea. Also, I never act as “both parents.” I am their mother, not their father. I rely on their father, male family members and friends to give them advice pertaining to men.
Can You Raise a Child Alone?
Last week, I began watching the Black Love Series on Own. The first episode was titled “Motherly Love.” Single celebrity parents discussed what it was like to be a mom. Actress Tichina Arnold said one thing that resonated with me, “You can’t really do it alone.” As a single parent, I used every resource within my reach, and I hope you are able to do that also. I’ve worked rotating shifts so I relied on my neighbors and parents to look after my children while I was working. My children became latchkey kids, therefore, my neighbor and my parents had an extra key for emergencies. A stay-at-home mom from their school provided transportation to and from games because I was not able to attend every game. Food had to be prepared early during the week to ensure that they were able to eat without having to use the stove. Their father and his family and friends were also available. If anything happened, I received a phone call immediately. This is how I built an ecosystem. In turn, I would make myself available to others when I was off.
As a parent, I was responsible for ensuring that my children were present in school every day, their homework was completed, they were fed, taken to doctor’s appointments, and being held accountable if they did something wrong regardless of how insignificant it may have been in the grand scheme of things. If you don’t address the minor infractions, they turn into major issues. I also made sure that they participated in positive free activities outside of school.
I’ve always been very transparent with them, just like my parents were with me. In turn, they have grown to trust me, I think, and share things with me whether I want to hear it or not. I think this is important as the parent/child relationship evolves and they enter into adulthood that the lines of communication remain open. While they are not perfect, it was up to me and their father to build the foundation. However, I know some single parents who have no access to the non-custodial parent and were able to successfully raise their children. Keep in mind that successfully raising their children does not mean perfection. There are always bumps in the road. I also don’t expect everyone to have the same results. As parents, we do our best to ensure that our children are successful and become productive members in society.
If you have any suggestions for other parents in our community that you would like to share, please comment below or email me. I’d love to feature your stories during this series. We all face challenges and we have something to offer other parents. Let’s work on this together!