Parenting solo: single parents share their stories
Pippa Naude spoke to four single parents who are doing a spectacular job raising their beautiful children and building a loving family and home.
*Lisa (37, Johannesburg) is a mother of three; an 11-year old, a 9-year old and a 17-month old.
I met my husband when I was 17 years old, so a lot of my teenage, adult and professional life was spent centred around him. The first opportunity I had to really find myself was when we separated a few years ago.
This was a tough time. I thought that I could do everything, but I didn’t realise the level of doing everything! During my marriage, my career had stagnated while I tried to be a good wife and mother. When I left my ex I suddenly had to take full financial responsibility for my children.
He has occasionally given me small amounts of money, but it is erratic and unreliable so I have abandoned the idea of getting regular maintenance from him. We had to move out of our home, and my two older children lost the lifestyle they were accustomed to and went from a private school to a public one.
I’m so proud of them today because they have come through all of this and are what I like to call “holistically happy” people – well rounded individuals who, although they don’t get everything they want, are learning to thrive. This has shown me that adversity can motivate people to be better.
I’ve come out of the divorce knowing myself and being free to lead the life I want to, while watching my children grow and prosper. I started a new job this year, and am optimistic about the future.
My advice to other single parents is to accept as much help as possible. If someone offers childcare, or groceries, or money – just say yes! Sometimes people have too much pride. Accept the help, as you can always pay it forward later.
I get all the love!
*Sarah (36, Durban) is a mother of a 4-year old.
I love that I get all the love and attention from my daughter. I don’t have to ‘share’ her with anyone else. I get to decide how to raise my daughter so that there are no conflicting ideas. There is nothing better than seeing my daughter smiling and knowing that I am fully responsible for her smiles and her happiness.
My daughter’s father has not seen her since her first birthday, so my biggest challenge is dealing with the emotions of a father who wants nothing to do with his child. This includes the knowledge that, at some stage, my daughter is going to have to deal with this too.
I don’t think there are too many issues unique to being a single parent. Being a single parent comes with all of the challenges of being a parent, only double the struggle. My daily battle is a child who has decided that today is the day she doesn’t want to do anything on her own, like getting herself dressed!
My advice to other single parents is that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Your best is good enough.
The joys of fatherhood
*John (39, Pretoria) is a father of a 9-year old, a 5-year old and a 4-year-old.
The mother of my first born left home when my youngest child was only six months old. I was left to raise her alone. It was daunting, but I had no other option. I bought a book on raising kids and I followed all of the advice. That helped a lot.
I now care for all three of my kids. I wash them and take them to pre-school early in the morning (5am) and pick them up late after work (8pm). It’s hard but you just get used to it. It’s just how it is.
Lots of people who know my story ask me, “How do you manage?” My answer is just as simple as I love my kids and I would do anything
My biggest achievement is seeing my children loving the fact that they are with their dad. Kids like spending time with their fathers more than we think. They’ve made me realise how important dads are. Because of this, I joined Dads in the Picture last year (www.dadsinthepicture.co.za), an organisation that encourages active and positive parenting among fathers for the well-being of their children.
This is why my parenting advice to dads is: you have a vital role to play in your children’s lives. Stay involved. Be there. Help them grow up.
*Jane (25, Durban) is a mother to 2-year-old.
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 17. It’s a chronic disease where my immune system attacks my own body, so my joints get inflamed. It’s incredibly painful.
I had a high-risk pregnancy due to my disease. Fortunately I was in remission throughout the nine months of my pregnancy, but after the delivery it flared up again and I found it difficult to deal with the chronic pain. I never thought I’d be able to work let alone raise my son by myself, because this illness can make you feel depressed and useless. But my ability to have a positive mindset has made things work for me, and I’m now doing both of these things.
Having a baby made me stronger, and seeing him healthy and active keeps me going regardless of any pain.
My advice to other single parents is to never give up and feel like you are not worthy of anything, because you are!