A New Perspective: The ups and downs of single parenthood

Courtesy of: Single Momm

A report in the last few years by the US Census Bureau says there are 12 million single parent homes in our country with 80% of those people being single moms.

So how is the workload for two, balanced by one?

Alison Neihardt is a licensed counselor who works with families and their children in Traverse City and she says half her clients are children coming from single parent homes.

"I would say when kids are pretty young, 3,4,5 years old they start looking at their other friends that have dads or that have that father figure in their life, and they start questioning where is my dad,” said Alison Neihardt, Licensed Professional Counselor.

Neihardt says kids are smart and the best thing to do when they start questioning - is to communicate.

"They overhear phone calls [or] they might read a text,” said Neihardt. “They hear conversations going on in the other room and so to try and hide information from your child is not really a good idea."

And whether you're a single dad, or a single mom, Niehardt encourages you to connect your child with healthy relationships.

"I have an elder friend at my church that has said numerous times, everyboy needs an uncle, every girl needs an aunt,” said Niehardt. "So, taking that little boy fishing or that little girl fishing."

But with being a single parent, it's not just about taking care of your children. It's also about taking care of yourself. Something Jennifer Finnegan Pool learned years ago.

"It was an overnight experience for me,” said Jennifer Finnegan Pool, Former Single Mom & Single Momm Founder. “My husband left and I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and so just that decision of what am I going to do? How am my going to provide for my kids?”

Jennifer ended up working multiple jobs and went back to school.

"In the beginning the crossroad was what I would say - just survival,” said Finnegan Pool. “It was figuring out financially what I was going to do."

But Jennifer explained that building yourself back up financially is only part of it.

"Confident wise, I would say I spent, you know, a couple years [in] this rebuilding phase and coming to the understanding that my life wasn't over” said Finnegan Pool. “And that came in through a lot of different channels. For me, I look at it as divine. I think there were lots of different people placed in my path at really great times."

Jennifer says it's critical for single-parents to have community but says beyond that, having the right community is even more critical.

And for those who don't know how to search for good community, she says start with those you admire.

"There is a dear family in this area that I did this with,” said Finnegan Pool. “I'm not even sure she knows how much I went and just kind of dug for just an understanding of, you do parenthood so well. What are the things that you do? What kind of vacations do you take? Where do you go? And how do you say no to the things that aren't healthy for your kids.”

And Jennifer’s story didn't stop with her. She started an organization called Single Momm and a program called Revive that reaches single moms across northern Michigan, in the state and soon nationwide.

“In my lowest moment, I pretty much thought life was going to be over and that I would be like that sacrificial lamb where my kids will be okay but that there was really nothing for me and that was a lie,” said Finnegan Pool.

Jennifer went on to say she is incredibly humbled her story is being used to help other women.

She also says no matter if you're a single parent or not, it's really about listening to each other's stories and embracing one another.

For more information about the organization Single Momm or the program Revive click here.