My whole life had become my worst nightmare and now I was tasked with blowing up my children’s whole world. As I stared at three pair of beautiful, innocent brown eyes, one of them being too young to understand the enormity of the situation, my heart sank to my toes. How do you tell a child that their father is never coming home? I finally just blurted it out and held them as they sobbed. In that moment I realized it was all on me; every tear would be wiped by me, every bit of discipline would be doled out by me, and every ounce of anger they had to muster would be thrown at me. Every statistic in my brain told me my children were going to become teen parents, alcoholics, and probably end up in jail before they could vote. I felt helpless, like nothing I would do would be good enough; but it is. A loving, selfless, devoted and courageous single mother can raise respectful, responsible, and kind children, so don’t you quit.
Children don’t have to grow up with a proverbial “D” on their chest. In a world where statistics say up to fifty percent of all children experience the divorce of their parents remember that no divorce is the same, no single-parent is the same and no child is the same.
- Research does show that when using a broader sense of the word father and providing children with a father figure in their lives they have “higher self-esteem, lower depression and anxiety, and marginally lower delinquent behaviors.” Active relationships with positive adult role models can bless a child with the love, comfort, and safety that might have left when their parents got divorced.
- The ideal family is made up of a mother and a father, but sometimes circumstances are out of our control and we end up a single parent and when a single parent really tries, they can make their home a place of love, learning, and security. For example, a 2009 study analyzed children from single parent homes and married parent homes. The study focused on not whether there were two parents in the home, but on the stability of the home. This study show that the only consistent advantage found to living in a married family home was a better home environment in terms of cognitive stimulation and emotional support, and overall the advantage was not enough to make a huge impact.
“My mother was a domestic. Through her work, she observed that successful people spent a lot more time reading than they did watching television. She announced that my brother and I could only watch two to three pre-selected TV programs during the week. With our free time, we had to read two books each from the Detroit Public Library and submit to her written book reports. She would mark them up with check marks and highlights. Years later we realized her marks were a ruse. My mother was illiterate; she had only received a third-grade education.” Dr. Ben Carson.
My ability to raise smart, kind, and stable children did not walk out the door with their father. As a single mom I still have the ability to positively steer my children’s lives. Those same brown eyes that broke my heart a few short years ago now look at me from the soccer field with a mile wide smile, or down from the bleachers while performing on stage in a choir concert, and for those beautiful brown eyes too young to understand, the wonder and joy of toddler life now shines through. There are still times when those sad eyes find my gaze, but we are learning to find joy together, the four of us.
So what can you do?
Continue to teach them the values that are so important to learn in the family; respect, hard work, trust and kindness. Teach them through your actions, the importance of family. So often the events that led up to becoming a single mother are fraught with anger, fear and confusion. It is important to remember that our children are feeling all of that as well. Let them know that their feelings are okay and work to help them learn how to handle their emotions in a healthy way. Make your home a safe place for them to land. Let them see you smile and laugh. Make new memories together, go on vacation together, go to the park together, go out to dinner together and continue doing the things you enjoyed before your world was turned upside down. Most importantly, don’t you quit. Don’t quit hugging them, don’t quit teaching them and don’t quit being their mother.
Kelly Shoroye is the mother of three beautiful children. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelors in Marriage an Family Studies. She loves spending time with her children going hiking, traveling, and having family movie nights.
For more research on the impact of divorce, go here: “Divorce: 100 Reasons Not to…”