Tag Archives: single

Single Parent: What Does “Family 
Holiday” Mean Now?

November 19, 2013 by
Photography by Natalie Jensen Photography

The holiday season. I’m not sure if there is another phrase that can evoke such extreme emotions. In just one moment, it can put smiles on our faces and send chills down our spines. I could write all day long about how we have lost the meaning of the holidays, but I particularly want to talk about how we’ve lost our definition of “family holiday” during this traditional season.

Take Thanksgiving, for example. Before becoming a single parent, you probably cooked for your family—your spouse, your children, maybe even your extended families. Now, you might not even have your children on the actual day, which can be really lonely. We’re supposed to be thankful on this day, but that might be a hard emotion to muster when we’re at odds with our family situations.

This year, I’m challenging all single parents (myself included) to redefine what a “family holiday” is. After all, your definition of family has changed, so why shouldn’t your expectations for the holidays change as well?

One idea is to combine and celebrate with other single families in your situation. It cuts down on costs and is an interesting way to create new traditions. Another option (if it’s not your time with the kids) is to team up with other kid-less adults and enjoy a more adult Thanksgiving meal. Whatever you do, just remember that “family” doesn’t always mean the spouse, the kids, and the white picket fence.

I’m not going to lie. Sometimes, the holidays cannot be over fast enough for me, but I have to remind myself not to glamorize what the holidays used to be like. If I’m honest, they were usually just as stressful for different reasons. So try to see the good, and don’t forget to be thankful.

Single Parent: Consistency

September 24, 2013 by
Photography by Natalie Jensen Photography

“It’s not what we do once in a while that changes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”  Anthony Robbins 

It’s boring, I know, but consistency is a keyword to success in single parenting. Some of us come by this naturally; to others, consistency represents an uphill battle, especially when managing all of the parenting responsibilities on your own. But like everything else you do, just a little extra effort can result in big rewards.

Success always starts with goal setting. This can seem daunting because, when we first have our babies, we have grand plans and visions of them becoming great athletes or scholars, curing world hunger, and embodying powerful personalities with hearts of gold. And then you get into parenting, and you’re just glad that they can walk, talk, and clean their room. (Okay, most kids don’t clean their room. But when they do, it kind of feels like they cured world hunger.)

These are the goals that I have decided to make consistent in my family life: I want my kids to feel loved, so I make a point of setting aside time each day to tell them they’re special and priceless to me; I want them to look back at their lives and realize they felt safe, so I make sure that I do what I say I’m going to do to build security in them; I want to teach them responsibility, so I check grades every Sunday night to determine if they’re doing what they should be doing; I want faith to be a foundation for them, so we all go to church on Sundays, even when we don’t want to; I want them to live a healthy lifestyle, so we talk about portion control, and we go to the gym. Last but not least, I want them to be able to hold conversations with someone without looking at their phone.

Your idea of successful single parenting might be completely different than mine, but one thing is for sure—consistency is the key to parenting. Creating patterns and habits will determine who your kids will become.

Single Parent

August 16, 2013 by
Photography by Natalie Jensen Photography

“There are only two ways to live your life—one is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as if everything is.” – Albert Einstein

Single parenting comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it was because of a surprising divorce, the death of a spouse, or an unexpected, unwed pregnancy. Most of us don’t grow up dreaming about being a single parent. Usually, our dreams consist of a white picket fence, a harmonious house that smells of bread baking, a loving husband, and perfect children quietly playing in the background. Well, that life isn’t reality for a growing group of single parents in 2013. I’m hoping my column will give you a new perspective on single parenthood, as well as some much-needed relief.

I personally awoke from my fairytale five years ago. Suddenly, I was balancing my lack of income, providing a home, putting food on the table, and creating a consistent routine for three small children—not to mention walking my children through the effects of divorce and the stigma of being from a “divorced family.” My path consisted of living with my parents for three years while I finished my college degree. After those long and sacrificial years, I was able to buy a house and provide for my children on my own again.

Being thrown into the role of a single mom developed a sudden closeness between my kids and me. Not only did we share a room practically piled on top of each other, but we talked about things we’d never talked about before. It became a time of healing, but I also found out more than I would’ve ever known about my children if we had all been tucked away in our separate rooms.

Not having extra money led to playing a lot of cards, long walks, bike rides, and watching old movies together. But most importantly, the lessons about life that they have learned are the most valuable. Pain doesn’t last forever. Prayer gives you strength. They watched me go through the process of starting over with strength and determination. Those lessons have been the unknown benefit of losing all my material things and becoming a single mom because what we do have is each other, and that turned out to be a better dream than I could’ve ever imagined.