As I thumbed through my mental catalogue in search of a topic for this month’s issue in early April, I stumbled across the perfect subject matter; single parents. Why did I choose to reflect on this topic? I must admit that I am not surrounded by many single parents, but I have become acquainted with several. The few I happened to befriend are excellent at the tasks that come along with parenting as well as strive to be the best parent they can be with zero hesitation. I admire that, I always have, and I am certain I will continue to do so. I also thought that it was high time that we focused on a topic that could probably touch and inspire many of our readers; single parenthood. So, this is my ode to you, my way of saying Thank You for your struggles, hard work, perseverance, disciplinarian skills and experiences.
The one question that always crossed my mind regarding single parenthood is: “What would you say has been the hardest part in being a single parent?” A former co-worker and friend of mine (Tonya G, mother to a 17-year old young man) answered this question to a degree that I believe most single parents can truly attest to, stating, “Trying to keep all financial difficulties and problems away from him so that he doesn’t have to worry about grown up problems. I try my best to shelter those things from him so that he can enjoy being a child as long as he can. I can no longer call him a child let me correct myself, young man.” The power in her words alone describes just how focused she is in not so much sheltering her son from the major monetary issues (if any ever occur), but maintaining a financially stress-free environment for him. She has carried all of the weight on her shoulders just to allow her son the freedoms of the teenage world (after all, being a teenager is stressful enough).
Another question, I have sparred with in my mind is, “Who (if any) was there to help you when you truly needed it?” Heather S (mother to a 13-year old boy) states that, “God, family, and friends” have been there for her. Some of us may find this ordinary; one would think that your family and friends would love to help, would truly be honored to but, sometimes this is not the case. Heather is blessed because she has had a support system to assist her whenever necessary while raising her son, yet this does not take away from her efforts. It merely indicates that although the struggle was hers, she was not truly alone in the process. This particular happening cannot be said for some other single parents. There are men and women among us who have to search for after hour baby sitters because their second (and often part-time) job requires them there at a certain time, and so does each month’s rent. For them, the decision is a lose-lose situation. They lose out on the time that could be spent watching their child or children blossom right before their eyes, but if they do not take this route, several ends may not be met. A Dog-Eat-Dog World? No, more like A Dog-Barely-Getting-Fed World.
The United States Census Bureau (http://tinyurl.com/6hwfxa) exclaims that the average household in the year 2006 was made up of 2.57 people, which is a decrease by 0.57 compared to the year 1970. As each year passes, single parent homes are becoming more prominent in the U.S. than they were in the early to late 1970’s. Although the increase is slight, one would hope these numbers do not sky-rocket as we enter the future. The Bureau also states that in the year 2006, 67 percent of our nation’s children (those under the age of 18) lived in a “married” two-parent home. What does this say about our families? Is the two-parent home destined to be extinguished? I am no mind-reader, but I do not like the direction in which these numbers are heading.
When asked if they ever envisioned being a single parent, Bridgette F (mother to a 10-year-old boy), Tonya G, and Heather S all responded, “No.” I don’t believe I know anyone who would truly want to raise his or her child alone intentionally. I am a single, young, woman with no children and on most days, it is hard keeping my head afloat. I do not want to imagine operating at a speed twice as quick and hustling just as hard to maintain the well-being of myself and a child. I would want HELP, I would NEED help. There is absolutely no getting around this truth.
In an April 17, 2008 article, STL Today (http://tinyurl.com/4t6azd) has shone a spotlight on Kory Alexander who has made himself available to be a foster parent to teenagers in need of a parent. He began this new life at the age of twenty-four when he became a foster parent to a young man he knew. Since then, Alexander has opened up his home to several teenagers, and adopted three who are now adults. Alexander is truly making a change as a single parent, and there are more single men reaching out to those children who need a parent, but not very many. His situation is incredibly different from the women listed above; he sought out the role of single parenthood to offer those who did not have a parent or parents to “look up to,” still he needs to be mentioned. Without his somewhat call to action, those young men would have been parent-less for God knows how long. His efforts should be praised, as they were in the article linked above.
To any of you who are working to make ends meet and parenting your children alone, I salute you. If you are doing this with the mind-set that your child or children will benefit in the long run from what you have to endure, I salute you once more. You are my heroes and heroines. Your passion for a life well-suited for your young is inspiring and I commend you. This world may applaud your efforts here and there, but you certainly deserve your own cemented star. So to the single mothers and single fathers of this nation and all others, you have my total adoration and my utmost respect. Peace.