Christina B. July 5, 2017
I was raised by a brave and loving single mom. Growing up I could see my mom’s job wasn’t easy but I knew she believed my brother and I were worth the sacrifice. In 2017 being a single mom is more common than ever before. According to a report by the U.S Census Bureau there are over 13 million single parents in the U.S today, representing close to one third of families in our nation.
Women become single mothers for a number of different reasons. In some cases a spouse dies, or there’s a divorce. An increasing amount of women chose to become single mothers through pursuing fertility treatments like IVF or adoption. Some women are tragically raped and decide to parent the child. Many women face single parenthood after a relationships ends mutually or they are abandoned by a boyfriend, partner or spouse. Whatever the reason is, know that if you’re a single pregnant woman, you are not alone!
We’d like to give you brave mama’s three tips to get you started on this journey:
Tip #1: Take things one step at a time:
You may be 6 months pregnant and just now accepting your reality as a single mom or perhaps you recently took a pregnancy test and are freaking out. Regardless, know that being a single mom is a way to classify a season of your life, not your total and permanent identity. In other words, being a single mom is part of who you are but it doesn’t solely define you. You’re a daughter, a friend, a worker and a unique woman with dreams and goals. This is a season of your life and in this season it’s important to take ‘one day at a time’. Five years down the road your life could look very different so focus on today. Leah Klungness, a NY psychologist and coauthor of the book The Complete Single Mother says this, “Forget long-term planning or strategy during those first sleep-deprived weeks. You have the rest of your life to plot and plan.” This isn’t a call to avoid preparing for your upcoming birth and the new life you’ll be soon taking care of. Rather it’s a reminder to not allow fear to take over regarding the countless things you can’t control. You don’t have to know right now how you’ll find male role models for your baby boy as he grows or what preschool you’ll put her in. All you need to focus on is taking care of yourself as you carry this child.
Tip #2: Who’s on your team?
One of the questions we ask women at our Pregnancy resource center is, ‘Who’s on your support team?’ It’s important to take time to look at the people around you and consider the role they play in your life. Do you have family members or friends that would be open to help you with babysitting, rides to the doctor or cooking meals when you return from the hospital? Are you part of a local church, synagogue, mosque or faith based organization in your city? Are you connected to Pregnancy Resource centers like ABC who offer monthly parenting classes and free material resources? You need a support system and sometimes in order to find one you have to look outside of your immediate circle and comfort zone. Psychologist Leah Klungness says, “You may benefit from a new-moms group; search the Internet for ones in your neighborhood, or look for bulletins in local stores. Mingle at a library story hour or a Gymboree class. I never imagined I’d be checking out women’s left hands for wedding rings, but I’ve done it! You can also meet single moms virtually through Web sites and blogs (some favorites: solomother.com, singlerose.com, and single2mother.org).”
Tip #3: Find Resources around you!
At the ABC Women’s Center we work to connect moms to the resources around them. We partner with mental health professionals, food banks, clothing rooms, pregnant women homes, domestic violence shelters, adoption agencies and more. As a single mom it’s important to assess your immediate needs and research places that can help meet them. Are you in a safe home? Do you need diapers or a car seat? Would you like to be involved in prenatal classes in your area? Along with pregnancy centers, there are Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Health Centers that offer many resources to moms and their families. There are 14 Community Health Centers in the state of Connecticut alone that offer resources such as free childbirth education classes, breastfeeding support, postpartum care and more. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to be vocal with the support you need. Be sure to also check out websites like www.singleparentadvocate.org for links to organizations that can help.
Every journey begins with a single step. You can do it!