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It’s time to cast off the guilt and judgment of solo motherhood
The social stigma of single motherhood is powerful and pervasive. In a recent study, researchers found that many people hold a negative view of Solo Moms based on a belief that there something inherently wrong with us or we are somehow damaged as individuals. Solo Moms don’t need to look to any scientific study to know this is true—we live it every day.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a disdainful downward glance from the perfect stay-at-home mom at the school pickup line when you are running a little late because you were rushing from a work meeting. Or maybe you have been on the receiving end of a not-so-subtle sarcastic remark from a teacher when a textbook your child needs is left at home or your class party contribution is store-bought instead of homemade. Perhaps you have overheard an exasperated sigh from a fellow shopper at the grocery store when your kids are being rambunctious and loud and are not sufficiently “under control.”
Maybe you have been doing some reading and have internalized all the statistics about kids raised by single parents being more likely to do this or less likely to do that and you second-guess your decisions and worry about your child’s future. As you continue along your Solo Mom journey and see what two-parent families have and give their kids, it could be that you start to feel like you aren’t doing enough, making enough, and giving enough to your children, and you are racked with guilt.
We need to take the opportunity to set ourselves free from the shame and guilt that can so easily beset the Solo Mom. Here are five suggestions on how to do just that:
1. Give yourself a break. It’s easier said than done, but try and remember that you are doing the very best you can, with what you have, right where you are. No one is perfect, and your kids don’t need or expect you to be. Don’t compare yourself to others because in the end, no one really knows anyone’s story or journey. Just keep going.
2. Mind your inner dialogue. If we aren’t careful, we can internalize the external judgment and negativity that we frequently receive as Solo Moms and become even worse critics of ourselves, worse than any critics we could find in the world. There is an inner conversation you are having with yourself all the time. When those self-deprecating thoughts try and sneak in, stop and ask yourself if you would say that to your best friend. If you wouldn’t say it to her, don’t “say” it to yourself.
3. Ignore the statistics. Statistics are just numbers. Research findings are not absolute truths, and these statistics also aren’t predictive of your children’s future. Studies do not account for the presence of a powerful Solo Mom like you, so don’t let those numbers get you down. Your kid will be just fine.
4. Understand there is no “right” way to be a good parent. There is more than one kind of family, and there is more than one way to be a family. Whatever decisions you make as a Solo Mom that are rooted in love are good decisions. The teacher, other mom, and lady in the grocery store haven’t spent one minute in your shoes, and they are in no place to judge. Ignore them if you can.
5. Love is all you need. When it gets right down to it, love is truly all you and your kids need. You must practice self-love and self-care so your love tank is full enough to share your best self with your kids. Wake up 10 minutes before your kids and do a quick yoga practice. Kids are watching a movie? Why not take a few moments to meditate? Schedule some time to take a long bath and read your favorite book. Buy yourself flowers. Talk a long walk. Call a supportive friend. Self-care looks different to different people, so find whatever restores and replenishes your soul, and do more of that. You and your kids will thank you for it.
In the end, we cannot control what goes on outside us, but we do have absolute dominion over what we let inside ourselves. Keep all that judgment and guilt out, and set yourself free.
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