DISCOVER THE MANY STAGES OF SINGLE PARENTING...
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I am SO glad you found your way here. First and foremost – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It's here that you will find support, encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom (plus a few chuckles).
When I first got divorced, I went to the internet (this was 1996 when the web was a mere newborn). I started with an AOL home page, “A Day in the Life of a Single Mother.” And one day I bought the domain…."Making Lemonade", because “when life gives you lemons...” What do you do? YOU make lemonade to share with others who are thirsty.
There are many many stages within the single parenting process, and I hope to cover them all here. If I am missing anything - please let me know. The relationship between a parent and child changes all the time, but the love is always present in its ebb-and-flow style.
Lots of folks linger in a relationship, hoping that problems or issues will change or that wee can find a way to deal with them better. It's like wishing for magic wand to wave over the other's head or powdering their heads with fairy dust to make problems vanish so we can get on with our lives, and our fantasies. It's tricky - the fantasies we carry. The white knight syndrome and the barefoot and pregnant wife, many times those are carried down from generation to generation and they were never really our own. In days long ago, our parents would stay in unhappy marriages for the children.
When your child begins to act out, it seems like, in a business sense that your child is trying to be a President of the family! Some of that is okay because they are stretching their communication legs to state who they are (or think they are) and what they want from the family structure. Set Rules. The best way to circumvent this behavior from repeating over and over is to set rules within the house and also have a conversation with your ex (if you aren't really on speaking terms, then I propose you use e-mail). This conversation will be about creating the same rules in both homes. With consistency and same rules applying, there is less wiggle room for tantrums and mutiny.
The great thing about dating another single parent is that they know what it’s like to go through the challenges of parenting alone. I do suggest, however, you spare them your
marriage or divorce horror stories until a relationship has been a little bit established. There’s nothing like scaring off a date more than letting them know how you’ve suffered or what a jerk your ex is...that is a dating no-no for sure! However, dating someone with children is comforting.
Too Soon. It is very wise not to introduce your children to your date unless it is in a group or activity setting; and you should not introduce your date to your children one on one until you are very serious about your relationship. Don’t forget, your children have already suffered one loss; it is wise not to set them up for another if you introduce your dates too soon or too often.
Don't expect anything Story Book. Your ex may have been wonderful in the marriage, non-argumentative or sweet and caring. But don’t be shocked when those qualities you admired in them turn to anger, passive-aggressive or just plain mean and uncaring. Divorce has a way of turning the best in us to the worst. Buttons get pushed, fears arise, people are afraid they won’t get what they want or like what they get. Some of us are lucky and we separate or divorce as friends, working things out with the children in mind or deciding your friendship is important to keep after a marriage ends. It’s important to go into divorce with your eyes open and not expecting things to be as good as they were in the marriage....keep an emotional insurance policy by speaking to a therapist or friend to help you stay centered. Remember who you are dealing with.
The experts say it takes half the time you’ve been in a relationship to recover and heal and be ready to move on. It takes a significant period of time to find peace and learn to re-invent your life and love life. SO...depending upon how long and what the circumstances were, it could take at least as long as half the years you were in your marriage to let it go. In the relationship and marriage worlds, there is a general rule that it takes about 1⁄2 the length of your marriage, to "get over" it or move on – when it comes to an end. You’ve probably heard it before... if you were married for 10 years and then divorced, figure about 5 years to be ready to then "move on" with memories and maybe some ‘baggage’ in hand. It takes a good time out to review what may have gone wrong, heal enough not to make the same mistakes again or bring in a similar relationship, like the one that didn’t work out. There is a lot of be grateful for within each experience, whether it feels good or bad. Even painful experiences and the loss of our dreams make us grow.
The finale of being a strong and successful single parent is when we segue from solo parenting to the sans-child art of empty nesting. All the juggling acts of finances, balancing work, homework and play dates comes to an end as we send our child off to college. As much as that can sting, it also creates a new phase for us! Just know that teenagers try and separate from their parents in ways that might astound us and make us sad. We might even utter words our parents used, like "You don't appreciate all I have done for you". The truth is - they do, it's just part of the dance of moving away and starting their own life. Just as we have to set up our kids for their own new life, we must do the same for ourselves. As adults, we've had to begin a new life after divorce and now we begin OUR life; and it can be scary. Time to let friends know you are more available to go out, plan get-aways and ways to meet new people. Keep a Journal. Journal writing is great for cathartic reasons, but also allows us to feel our feelings without making our children feel responsible for our feelings in missing them.
Jodi Seidler knows how to guide single moms and dads to move beyond their challenges and prosper in all areas of life. From raising a boy to manhood, Jodi has earned her ‘Masters Degree’ in single parenting. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of single parents and their children and contributing her wise and witty guidance, knowledge, and experience.
She's been writing her entire life: from journal writing to articles, stories, lyrics, and poetry. She's worked for magazines in Minneapolis and again in New York. In her mind, it's all about being creative…like the things we do, or have to do, when we become a single parent.
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