I’m going to try something different here on Danoah Unleashed this month. I’m going to focus the entire month’s posts (4 total) all on the same topic. This month: different aspects of single parenting.
Single Parent Guilt
There’s this thing called Single Parent Guilt. If you’re a single parent, I bet you know it well.
It’s the guilt of not making all the life decisions that would have led to your child having a stable nuclear family right now. It’s the guilt of not having a more stable life right now. It’s the guilt of not being able to give your child all the same advantages and opportunities that they might have had right now. It’s the guilt of not doing what you needed to do to make it work with your child’s parent. It’s the guilt of knowing that if they had a stronger parent, they’d have two parents right now.
And don’t get me wrong. I don’t wallow around every day thinking about how bad I suck as a human being, I don’t wallow around thinking how bad my kid’s life sucks, and I don’t think a lot of other single parents do, either. No, I think my life is pretty great most of the time, and so is the life I’ve given my kid.
But every now and then something happens, or my kid says something, or the reality of everything hits, and I realize that in that moment, my kid’s life would have been better or different if Dad would have done things better or differently.
That’s when the single parent guilt sets in.
And there’s only one cure, really. Figuring out how to touch bases with reality.
Reality says that in or out of a nuclear family, there would be struggles and challenges that would affect my kid in negative ways. They’re just different in nature.
Reality says that life is never stable for anyone. Sure, sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking it is, but the rug could be yanked out from under any of us at any time.
Reality says that advantages and opportunity are in the eye of the beholder and the mind of the receiver. Some of the most successful and greatest people to ever grace mankind came from split families, rough conditions, and big disadvantages. And I bet every one of them would tell you that that was their advantage. That was their opportunity.
Reality says that your relationship probably ended because it couldn’t succeed. As single parents, we often forget that. We know so much more now and we forget that we didn’t know it back then. We have perspective, ability, and knowledge that we didn’t used to have, much of which came to us because of the end of our relationships. We can’t compare the person we are now to the person we were then.
And finally, reality says that strength has nothing to do with marital status. Strength has everything to do with character, integrity, and steadfastness.
Summed up, life is what it is. We are where we are. We have what we have. And we do with it all whatever we will. What we do with it is up to us, and what we do with it will challenge, shape, and define our children more than anything else.
If we can remember that, our moments of single parent guilt will be a lot easier to get through.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
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More of me on Danoah Unleashed:
My Kid’s Booger Problem Just Got Personal
When Mommy & Daddy Believe Very Different Things
I Bit My Kid’s Head Off For No Real Reason Today
For My Kid’s First Birthday, I Got Him a Facebook Account
Why the Heck Would it Be Where it Goes?