I was at a summer school session last weekend, and I met a woman who was getting an advanced degree in marriage and family therapy. I admire her so much! She is in her late forties and has two children whom she is raising alone. She has had to work full time while going to school, and supporting her family.
Her children have been very supportive of her, even though it puts more housework on them, and they don’t get to have her around as often. This has been a dream of hers, and her children have worked beside her, helping her to achieve it.
So how did she get such amazing children?
Well, when they were younger, she taught Baha’i children’s classes in her home one day a week. That’s like Sunday school for Christians. They worked on developing virtues such as generosity, kindness, and patience. The mom worked on developing virtues in herself as well.
As her children got older, she has maintained her connections in her faith-based community. This community has become the “village” for her children.
The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is true. In previous decades, multiple generations stayed in the same vicinity. Sometimes they were even in the same house. This provided a build-in support system for young parents.
These days, young families often move out on their own, taking jobs in cities far from their familial base. When they have children, parents can become isolated, exhausted, crabby, and depressed. Even with two parents, the energy it takes to raise happy children can be overwhelming.
I can remember many days when my husband got home from a hard day of teaching. He needed to rest, but I said, “I need a break. You are primary parent for a while.” He never complained (almost). I just needed a break, even if it was cooking dinner without interruptions. In order to keep a positive attitude towards your children, it is vitally important that you have the energy required. It takes a lot.
It is important for parents to develop villages for themselves as much as for their children. Faith villages are a good option, whether parents are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, or any other religion. The important part is the network of people with whom you, as parents, feel a certain amount of commonality. Villages can also be generated from common interests. For example, single parents who enjoy taking their children swimming might meet other parents would also enjoy swimming. Personally, I believe faith-based communities work well because there’s already a sense of love and acceptance, as well as the basis of the Golden Rule. All religions (of which I am aware) have some sort of quote in their Holy Writings that says to treat others how you would like to be treated. But you are your own individual, so I’m confident you can find someone to bond with. The important thing IS to bond.
This is particularly important for single parents. There are plenty of other single parents out there who would also benefit from working on developing a support system. Perhaps you and another single parent could find apartments close to each other. Maybe there’s already another single parent living near you. It might even save money to share a place, but it would be a really good idea to make sure you get along well first.
I used to plan that if I won the lottery, I would build or refurbish an apartment building for single mothers and their children. Daycare would be on site, and each family would have to be involved with helping to provide various services such as daycare, picking things up at the grocery store, etc.—things that a spouse is often asked to do. Even though I don’t buy lottery tickets, I think it would be a good idea!
Tressa Reisetter has a new book out for parents:
Getting to Know Your Child’s Brain.
Here’s the link: