Everyone knows that being a single parent is tough, but unless you’ve lived it, you really have no idea just how much pressure single parents feel. Many single parents fall into one of two categories: the victim or the superhero. I’ve met single parents who continually play the “victim” card. They believe that life has dealt them a bum hand (and for many it has), and as a result, they believe that the world owes it to them to make life easier. Unfortunately, this often backfires and instead of receiving the support they need, people who might be willing to help often withdraw and avoid the victimized parent.
The other trap single parents tend to fall into is that of being a super parent. I confess, this is my temptation. I’ll never forget the first Christmas after Michael died. I was determined that Christmas would be the same as in the past, and that I didn’t need any help. Putting up my tree was no problem, but as I began to take apart my artificial tree, the pieces seemed stuck together. I was adamant that I didn’t need any help, and that I could take apart a tree all by myself. After wrestling with the tree for two days, I pulled and yanked until alas, the tree came apart. Much to my chagrin, it came apart when I least expected it, punching a hole into the wall in my living room. My stubborn refusal to ask for help left me in an even bigger mess.
Why is it that so many of us feel the pressure to be “super mom” or super dad?” Our kids have already faced difficulties and we feel like it is our responsibility to make up for their pain. We do everything within our power to make up for the missing person in their lives, when the reality is that we can’t.
I’ve learned to cry out to God, and to ask him to fill in the gaps where I fall short. I’ve also learned that it’s ok to ask for help. The Bible even tells the Church to look after widows and orphans — which implies that we need help. I’m still fiercely independent, but I’m learning to ask for help when I need it.
If you have friends or family who are single parents, show them you care by asking how you can help. I’m so blessed to have friends that I can call on in most any situation, but many single parents face the hardships of life all alone. Be a presence in their lives!