For reasons I will not disclose, I became a single parent in 1992 after divorcing my husband thus leaving me with the full time care of three children. It was the greatest challenge of my life to single handedly rear these children in the best possible home life I could muster while impoverished and barely making scratch. I was the underdog and had no champion, no one willing to go to bat for me and my small brood; who were completely dependent on me to provide for them, entertain, educate and protect them.
As a young attractive single mother I had all sorts of opportunities to step out, date and party it up but I chose a route far far away from the ID me and placed my children in highest regard. I set boundaries for myself and my children in as much as we attended church several times a week, there was no fornicating, drugs, drinking and overnight stays of any sort away from home or in the homeplace. My leash was far shorter than any 20 something gal I knew at the time and I was okay with it.
Some have said I went to the extremes and quite honestly to me it didn’t seem to be enough. I was so caught up with the weight of my responsibility for my children that I often did not sleep. Without a man in the house to protect us I was up with every little sound. I didn’t just wear the woman hat but that of mother, father, provider, protector. I simply would not let my guard down and open my home to assault.
My children for the most part went along with the house rules but by the time my eldest was in the third and fourth grade they wanted more, demanded more and here the negotiating came into place. Sheltering my children for the most part over the financial struggle was no easy task when the other kids wore the current fashion, shoe wear and played with the most hip toys. How does one tell their child you can’t have a sleepover tonight because I don’t have enough food for your friend for dinner tonight and breakfast in the morning? And there were nights when I simply did not eat so that those overnight guests could come eat and be merry.
I relented on the no television in the home and finally bought a used console at a yard sale right about the time the sleepovers began.
I put myself through college while working fulltime during the same hours my children attended school. I did not trust to leave my children in daycare or private care after a few unfortunate incidences in both settings. In my mind and in my opinion no one would provide the same care and attention I do for my children and to expect someone to do so is merely disappointment waiting to happen.
Eventually, I completed my studies and the work field I chose lent some financial relief to my situation allowing for the many luxuries I and my children had done without for so long. There were violin, flute and saxophone lessons as well as little league and ballet slippers not to mention vacations up and down the east coast from Georgia to Massachusetts and most states in between. But for my eldest nothing seemed to keep their interest, floating from one thing to the next never satisfied. My second child seemed the most level headed and could see the bigger picture while maturing often the mediator in the house between me, the eldest and youngest child.
By the time my children hit puberty they each had decided their own course. My eldest ran away from home just before their 17th birthday. My rules were too much for them and they moved in with a childhood friend where they were allowed to experiment in ways that I would not allow. To date my eldest has not finished high school but is an amazing parent. My second child continued studies and graduated first in their class a few months after their 17th birthday. Now an entrepreneur and business owner. My youngest child a gifted artist made some really bad choices as a teen now with a criminal record which continues to haunt into their mid twenties.
In my opinion I do not believe there can be too much structure in a young person’s life. I do not regret the manner in which I reared my children. I provided for them in ways their own fathers chose not to. I have taken it on the chin each and every time my eldest and my youngest have blamed me and attacked me for their failings. I have no regrets. I have heard their version of the childhood they lived and I have been attacked by their spouses/significant others for falling short as a parent.
I do not call my children liars, they have every right to their opinion and to express however they recall their childhood. To presume that their version of the childhood they experienced is absolutely true with no room for error is ignorant on the part of their friends, spouses/significant others and even more ignorant on their part to call my parenting into question.
As a single parent my utilities were never shut off, my children never went without food, clothes and basic necessities. I was never investigated by family services for any abuses nor do I have a criminal police record. I love my children and provided for their needs above and beyond what the law requires. What they chose to do with their lives after I fulfilled teaching them right from wrong, living a becoming life and abiding within the realm of socially acceptable behavior…that is on them.
I have no regrets over the life I live, the example I set and continue to set. My children left my home with the ability to manage a household, to provide for their own needs and provide the same structure for their children which I initially instructed them in. Each with an awesome sense of humor and the ability to forgive a trespass.
Parents: If your kids are in their mid twenties and older and still blame you for the crappy life they currently live…the problem is not with you but with them and their inability to accept responsibility for their choices. Parents, be kind to yourself and stop the blame game. Make them accountable, do not accept blame or allow them to deflect responsibility for their choices. Do not accept a plate of guilt and regret when your adult child serves it your way…slide the plate in their direction, hold a mirror in front of them and remind them they are past the age of majority and the time for blaming others left the moment they moved out.
I did lend my children a structured environment, with rules, boundaries and consequences. I have no regrets and no one has the right to point a finger at me and assess my parenting skills based on unsubstantiated accusations, unsupported claims and misinformation from an individual who threw their life away on bad choices.
I dedicate this on behalf of my son in law who has demanded that I “write about it, own it and accept it”, it is done…
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”