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home : opinion : opinion May 24, 2016

1/4/2013 6:01:00 AM
Tough but simple rules for being a single parent
Your input is appreciated
I want to hear from you. Whether you're a stepparent, a single parent or simply one aspect of a strong family unit, feel free to call or email me with your stories. You can reach me at (928) 753-6397 extension 229 or at asherman@kdminer.com.
Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

Being a parent is rough, but being a single parent is often hopeless. It requires you to do the job of two while also making enough money to put food on the table, clothes on your child's back and a roof over her head.

But there are things you can do to make life better for you and your child. They're not easy, but they'll make you a better parent and give your child a chance to not repeat the mistakes you made.

I was raised by a single mother who didn't qualify for public assistance despite making roughly $5 an hour. She struggled to feed and clothe me, and I spent a lot of time alone. We learned a lot of lessons together, but by the time she had the skills to be a really good parent, I was out of the house. Don't let that be your story.

Stop searching for a savior

No man or woman is going to save you and your child's life unless you get lucky. So instead of betting against the odds, find the power within yourself to change your situation.

As a single parent, searching for a new man or woman to call your own should be as far away from your mind as possible. Of course, if you continue the search, there's a slim chance you'll find a person who wants to be part of your life and your child's, but there's an even greater chance you'll meet people who want romance without responsibility - and that's simply something you and your child can't afford.

Additionally, your child should not have to compete for attention with the flavor of the month.

My mother dated extensively when I was young. It seemed like I was meeting a new boyfriend every month. I became attached to several of them and was forced to relive the misery of losing my father when the relationships - as they most always do - ended.

My mother stopped dating when I was 11, and though she dealt with recurring bouts of extreme loneliness, she stuck to it. When I was 17 she met the man of her dreams - at a Laundromat. They've been married for 15 years, and if she hadn't stopped dating when I was younger she probably would've never met him.

During the process, though, she continued to be swamped by work and bills, but at least she quit playing fast and loose with our emotional well-being.

Irresponsible dating most likely put you in this position, and guess what? It won't get you out of it. You are your child's savior - not some man or woman you met at the bar.

If you're not capable of slowing your social life down to a crawl, at least refrain from introducing the people you meet to your child.

Improve your financial situation

Now that you've gotten your love life under control by doing away with it, it's time to tackle your financial situation.

That minimum wage job you're working isn't enough, even if you're getting public assistance to offset some of the costs of living. Social programs that help people pay for necessities, such as food, are supposed to be temporary.

That's why they're called safety nets.

Pick a realistic career, using research, that needs workers and pays a livable wage, such as nursing or welding, and then get yourself into college or a trade school. Take out loans, apply for scholarships and get all the financial assistance you can get your hands on - you're going to need it.

Combine what you can get for going to college with what you can get for being an impoverished single parent, and that should be enough to supplement your income while you pursue an education.

Things will be tight, but they already are, so what do you have to lose?

Remember that these financial assistance programs are taxpayer investments in you. The way you pay back these willing and unwilling taxpayers is to be realistic, put your nose to the grindstone and graduate from college ready to work and say goodbye to public assistance.

During winter and summer breaks you may need to find part-time jobs in order to get through the months financial aid does not cover.

During the school year, though, you'll find that you actually get more time with your child. Sure, you're going to be stressed and busy, but what matters is that you're working toward a goal and your child is there to see you do it.

It's much better than working more than 40 hours a week at a dead-end job that neither pays the bills nor allows you to advance.

My mother didn't go to college until she was in her late 40s and I was out of the house - a decision she still regrets.

No matter how tired you are, pay attention

Whether you just got off from a 10-hour shift at Taco Bell or you're in the middle of finals week, I don't care. You must pay attention to every aspect of your child's life, no matter how tired you are.

Single parents must help their children with their homework every night, develop working relationships with their teachers, speak to them about sex and drugs, and listen to them about their feelings, fears, dreams and daily drama.

I had minimal supervision. From the time I turned 6 to the day I left home, I was left alone while my mother worked. She rarely had the time or energy to actually help me with my schoolwork, and when I simply stopped going to school she was clueless.

I got in trouble with the law when I was 15 and dropped out of school when I was 16. My mother could've gotten me off the path I was on, but she was just too tired to pay attention.

Don't let that be your excuse. Even though I was able to gain control of my life in my early 20s, most kids who grew up the way I did never do.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Me Myself and I Mr. C,

@ Jack Shepherd, Denise Bensusan, Kelly Tanner and John Calmer:

Excuse me, for grouping all four of your comments together to respond too. Each of you have presented a clear and concise commentary on the issue of parenting, that's an important point to remember Be-cause each one is unique in it's own right.

After reading each and every one of your comments, the thought occurred to me, One of my sons who has two daughters also wanted a son, he wanted one to carry on the family name, Good reason right...LOL He has since given that more thought.....what started out for a search for a adopted child, Led him and he's wife to foster parenting. Which meant parenting classes given by the state, At the time My question was why? your already a good parent what could they possibly teach you? Answer, plenty.

Point, my hat is off to anyone who faces up to the challenges of parenting foster or natural. My son and daughter in-law Boy/Girl makes no difference, what makes the visual aspect apparent to me is there a child in need and can they make a difference in that child's life, a little better.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Jack Shepherd

Parenting is tuff by any standard, the failing of the family unit world wide has led to 33% single parents.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Denise Bensusan

Great article Aaron.... My husband died in 2001 when My son was eight. I raised a great son but it was tough.....tougher than anyone who hasn't went through it will probably never understand.

Being poor which many single parents are makes everything even harder. With so many (and the number is huge) absent parents NOT paying child support puts even more pressure on the single parent.

If you work (as I did) it makes it almost tougher....you dont qualify for assitance but your trying to teach your son that nobody gives you anything and you have to support YOURSELF and your family with no help from ANYONE else....especially the state. You do without, your child does without and you can only hope that the HARD lessons learned will give him a better life in the future.

Im proud to know any and all you single parents out there! HANG IN THERE!

AND please, pretty please tell the state and federal gov. to try harder in collecting child support from those who ignore their responsabilty to their own children.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Kelly Tanner

Great Article! All parents (single and married) struggle to do right by their children. As all of you know, they don't come with a "handbook". There are times when we can all use the extra help or tools to navigate the course even if it's one small idea or suggestion. There is a free program to families with adolescents aged 10-15 in Kingman. If anyone is interested in learning some new tools to help create a stronger family bond (whether you're single or not), please call me and we can get you signed up for the Strengthening Families Program! Sessions are held once a week and we provide dinner... Did I mention it's free? 928-692-5889

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: John Calmer

I know how tough it is to be a single parent. I myself am just that. I have learned how loving and how hatefull people can be. People that you think are there to help you disapear. I have also seen the love that people give. I wrote a letter thanking a local chruch for giving my son a Christmas. It is hard work being a single parent. I get no aid. It is all on myself. I have a good job. So that helps out alot. I also have. Loving parents that help take care of my son while I am at work. I tell people im both Dad and Mom. All I can tell a single parent is hang in there. And dont give up. I have done much cutting back. Trying to keep up on the rent and bills. I have my sons love. That is all that matters to me right now. My son is number one in life and will always be number one to me. People got to understand that.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: me myself and I Mr. C,

@ Jennifer O'Harra your interpretation of Ahron article unfortunately is not from him Yet, your assessment may, well be correct.

"Tough but simple rules for being a single parent" As you pointed out those rules where divided into three parts, consisting of three (3) rules. make no mistake about it, I agreed with those rules you & he put forth, where I disagree, do not stop at just three rules, life is a little more complicated then that and lets face it, more then one life is at stake here. If you can find any parent, any where that's perfect allow me be the first to say, that's a bag of crock. Those parents do not exists, not even in the movies.

Sadly some parents do not love their kids, not even a little and some are torture, raped and abused in ways you couldn't begin to imagine. Their little minds will never heal, not ever. Do you still believe, those three rules will ever help those children?

P.S. My generation was misunderstood, so why is your generation any better.......Just asking.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: Jennifer O'Harra

It amazes me the way the comments have blown this letter out of perspective.
Ahron was simply talking about self responsibility. He was obviously attempting to validate his points by sharing parts of his story. If you all go back a read this again you will find three very simple very true points. Let me take out Ahron's story and put it in the words I believe he was trying to convey.
1. Don't search for a savior: everyone complains that there are too many single parents that worry more about dating than their kids. Ahron's point, I believe, is that you need to be responsible for your situation and not rely on others to "fix" your situation.
2. Improve your financial situation: Everyone complains about the system being abused and Ahron simply stated that using the system for extended periods is wrong. He also said if your job isn't enough take the time to better yourself. Ahron's point, I believe once again, is that you need to be responsible for your situation and not rely on others to "fix" your situation.
3. No matter how tired you are, pay attention: Everyone complains that "kids these days" weren't parented properly, I think Ahron's point was that we need to pay better attention to our children. (and before you all miss understand this he was talking to those parents who's kids you whine about)

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: me myself and I Mr. C,

@ Ahron I'm somewhat confused about your what it is, your asking from us or from your self. There are so many aspect about being a parent, single or otherwise. My role models, that help shape my ideas on what a good or bad parent would or should be, came from all walks of life.

All my children are actually not children anymore and haven't been for many years. But, I still worry about them, they still try my patient, make me laugh and when they leave to go home after a visit they are given the usual cautionary request from us, let us know when you get home. If they fail to do so, I have no problem with letting them know how I feel about it.

Don't be hypercritical or a hypocrite, pay attention who your children's so called friends and acquaintance are. Forget the traditional roles of women vs men as it may apply toward raising a child.

Your mother is a remarkable individual and I have never met her, I would suggest you maintain that rapport you have with her. Your rule book for defining a good parent is not as simple as you might believe, But if it works for you and yours, stay with it remember "different strokes for different folks". If your children say things, like dad I know what I'm doing, It has been my experience, they usually did.

There is not enough time or space here for all of ones life experiences, on what constitutes a good parent Vs a bad one. If I was of any help let me know, if I wasn't let me know that too.

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Lucia Jorgensen

All parents should make their children their main focus as too many are to busy for the children they brought into the world! Hat's off to you for taking the time to share your story.

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

Wow, the person at the top of the list of "utter
nonsense" has spoken. We should all tremble in his wisdom and hypocrisy!

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: desert dweller

Maybe the secret is...."take your wedding vows seriously"! People slip in and our of marriage like a pair of shoes...If you make a commitment, make damn sure its right and "stay" with it. And yes...I am married and have been for over 50 years...."I took my vows seriously"!!

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Another Happy Single Parent

WOW!!! Nicely Written..direct and to the point.from a childs perspective...I am a signle parent that really enjoys the time I have with my young daughter. I am lucky to be retired, working part time and going back to school for my Masters. I have the time and finances to take care of my daughter and myself which makes it easier. Great article and I hope it will inspire those who are stuck in a rut or feel they can not make it on their own.

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Former Kingman Resident

@ Just One Opinion

"I believe a sudden death or rape is the only acceptable answer to be a “single” parent"

Gee... Just where does that leave those of us who, unfortunately, married someone PLANNED our child and then the other person decides they don't "like being married". Was I suppose to put a leash on him to make him stay?

@ Happy Single Parent
LOVED your post. Could have written it myself fits my situation to a "t". I don't date, don't even look to date... My life is full and blessed because of my child.

@ OK Seriously
Wow... I don't think you "got" this at all!

Thanks, Ahron! Really enjoyed this. You nailed it!

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

As a twice divorced single father life is what it is, no one is quaranteed a rose garden, and no one can predict tomorrow, it has not arrived yet, yesterday is gone, all one has truly is today! We come into this old earth alone we leave alone, all that is really worth anything we leave on this old earth are our kids, will they have perfect lives only god knows, life is never easy to predict nor can one work miracles in life, only one walked on water and I doubt anyone posting here can walk on water much less do anything about your kids futures all one can do is pray, try to lead by example anything else is mere fate and in gods hands!

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Ahron Sherman

To OK Seriously,
I'm sorry I offended you. I was not saying that all single parents are a product of irresponsible dating habits, I was saying that the majority of them are. That is not an insult, it is a fact in our society.
As for insulting my mother, you have to realize that she and I went through this together, and this column is a product of our struggles, conversations and lessons learned. She would not feel insulted. She would feel proud to read this.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: You Don't Say

@ Anson's Nephew

Your input is appreciated I want to hear from you. Whether you're a stepparent, a single parent or simply one aspect of a strong family unit, feel free to call or email me with your stories.

What part did you miss?

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Just One Opinion

Being a parent is hard, period. Doing it alone has to be tougher. However, I very seldom feel pity for individuals that are recklessly running around having unprotected sex, then asking for public assistance, or the parents that suddenly finally decide they are no longer compatible. Divorce doesn’t create single parents, just irresponsible, deadbeat ones. I believe a sudden death or rape is the only acceptable answer to be a “single” parent. With that all said, there are very responsible single parents out there and I applaud them.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Your opinion is not of any value to anyone on this subject.”

That’s rather harsh considering the number of people who show up here daily spewing utter nonsense.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Joyce Lewis

Very good article. I hope it can help someone in the same situation. I don't think it was an insult to his mom, just an honest insight

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: biker randy

OK seriously, since you are not and never have been a parent, you don't have anything to be offended about because you don't have a clue what this young man is sharing about his life. Your opinion is not of any value to anyone on this subject.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: OK Seriously

I'm not a parent but I am extremely offended.

Are you being serious or are you trying to be funny?

There are many reasons that people - men AND women - end up being single parents. It's not always playing "fast and loose" and "irresponsible dating". Sometimes it's because the parent is divorced, or widowed.

I realize what you and your mother went through was rough, but that isn't always the case.

And to top it off, you're insulting your mother by writing this article. Are you saying your mother played fast and loose and you are the product of irresponsible dating?

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Happy Single Parent

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article.

The day I became a single parent is the day I quit 'dating'. I have never been lonely without a man and have, in the past, found myself more 'lonely' in a bad relationship than being single.

My child and I laugh, joke, and talk every day.

Being a single parent (something I really feared) has turned out to be a joy... though, not always easy.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Original Southsider

What an insightful article and to the point. Thank you

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