Navigating single parenting

When I became a mother, I was faced with conflicting feelings. I was so happy to have new baby girl in my life. My own daughter. But at age 19, I was also sad that I would have to raise her on my own.

Parenting is hard. Single parenting…well, let’s just say it’s not for the faint of heart. There is much to juggle, and it can be a very lonely road.

Many people look at my life now, married with five wonderful children and four, soon to be five, beautiful grandchildren, and they assume that I have it all figured out. But the truth is, my time as a single parent will forever be etched in my memory.

My journey as a single mom

I found out I was pregnant during the second semester of my freshman year in college. I was, and still am, a preacher’s kid, good girl, and oldest daughter. I was supposed to keep it all together. However, I was in a relationship with my high school sweetheart. We were in love during the time we were in college, and we fell into sin. He was not ready to be there for me in one of the most challenging moments of my life. It didn’t take long for me to see that I would have to do this parenting thing alone.

No young girl dreams of being a single parent and starting her life inviting unplanned difficulty. Getting pregnant was not in my plans. It was rough, but my faith in God, solid support system, and refusal to quit allowed me to push through the hardest of days.

After ten years of single parenting, I met and married my husband. But even after my husband and I got married, there were times that I felt like a single parent all over again. My husband worked hard and also traveled quite a bit for work. He would be gone for days or weeks at a time.

Because the corporate job I had when we got married job required a lot from me, we made the decision for me to become a stay-at-home mom, so there was a strong parental presence. We each gave each other the gift of a daughter on our wedding day, and as time went on, we added three boys to the mix. My parental responsibilities continued to increase when we decided to homeschool our children as well.

Because of my parenting experience as both a single and married woman, I know parenting alone can be hard being a single mom, to say the least. There is an abundance of responsibility, and expectations resting on your shoulders.

I know there are days when you don’t hear so much as a “thank you” from your children, especially in those baby and toddler years. You’re busy with the physical load of chasing after little ones who are unable to take care of themselves. Then the teenage years come and can be incredibly emotionally draining.

There are a few things that I learned about single-parenting in a successful and healthy way. 

How to single-parent in a healthy way

1. Start with a mindset shift

In order to parent well, you have to care for yourself. I know that you might feel guilty taking a little time for self-care or to do things you enjoy, but you must!

Whether you’re a single parent as a result of teenage pregnancy, divorce, being widowed, or any other circumstance, raising children requires you to take care of yourself consistently so you can take care of your children from a whole and healthy soul.

Single parenting also requires discipline. While my friends were going to parties in college, I spent my time studying for my classes and spending time with my daughter. My priority was to finish school so I could provide for her. I needed to discern who could be in our lives and who couldn’t because she was the most important part of my world.

2. Realize the power of support

Don’t apologize for needing support. If you’re close to another mom who is on a single parenting journey., your mutual support of each other can be just what you each need to keep going. 

Trust me when I tell you asking for help is difficult for most parents. I never wanted to feel like a burden to others as a single parent, but I couldn’t do it all alone. My parents were a tremendous help to my kids. Anyone who stepped in to help me was more than appreciated. 

Let the people who want to help you help you!

Don’t forget to seek out support from your local church. Many churches provide ministries to single parents that facilitate additional relationships with other single parents who understand your situation. These types of ministries often offer childcare (an invaluable resource). I remember turning to church activities for my daughter to get some time alone to recharge.

How to help single moms

And if you are reading this and wondering how you can be a blessing to another single mom in your circle of influence, ask that mom for specific ways that you can help. You can bring her a hot meal so she doesn’t have to think about what to cook for dinner one evening. Encourage her by telling her that things will be okay even if she can’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re close enough for her to trust you, offer to watch her children if you have the capacity for that.

More than your advice, single parents need your love.

Let them know that they are doing an excellent job with their children. If you’re a mother of older children, you can share resources for meal prep, time management, and parenting in general.

Some final thoughts

I have such compassion for single moms – mainly because I was one! If you are a single mom in need of encouragement, believe me when I tell you this – with time, life will become more manageable.

Whatever you lack, God will make up the difference. 

On those days when you want to give up, do all you can, but trust God with the rest. He is an amazing father to those in need of a perfect father figure. In the meantime, take courage as the mom who is doing the best she can!

One day, your children will remember your sacrifice and appreciate all you’ve done for them. 

Take it from me: you are everything your child needs. You got this, my friend.

Her children rise up and call her blessed.-Proverbs 31:28

Starting point:

She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You

The Sister Circle Podcast: #014-Ask Me Anything

The Sister Circle Podcast: #048-Ask Me Anything

The Sister Circle Podcast: #124-A She’s Still There Story with Chrystal

The Sister Circle Podcast: #126-A She’s Still There Story with Chrystal-Pt. 3