As the country looks for clues about what turned Nikolas Cruz into a cold-hearted mass shooter, many “experts” blame his violent behavior on a “broken home”. According to numerous media accounts, the shooter came from a fatherless home. Apparently, single moms are now the main cause of males becoming mass shooters. The unfair stereotype is still invoked: a single mom presides over a broken home that produces a troubled child.
As a single mom of three, I don’t agree with this popular prejudice. Many single parents do their job of parenting extremely well. My children are a good example. In May, my oldest daughter will graduate law school at just 23 years of age. Her sister is getting ready to graduate college, summa cum laude. At 14, my son is a straight “A” high school freshman. My kids love life, people, and animals. They are responsible, hard-working, caring human beings. I’m incredibly proud of them. Not all children raised by a single mother end up as mass shooters or drug dealers.
From my experience, when it comes to creating a healthy family, it’s not the number of parents in a home, but the quality of parenting a child receives that matters most. A home is only “broken” when healthy family dynamics break down: communication stops, love is absent, or destructive behavior sets in, for example.
What is true is that single mothers and fathers must take on additional family responsibility. However, by rising to this enormous challenge, single parents develop remarkable skills and strengths worthy of appreciation and recognition.
Here are just a few strengths/skills and ideas I have developed and (hopefully) passed down to my children.
1. Be resilient and never give up.
Since becoming a single mom, seven years ago, I’ve had to face all the challenges by myself. As hard as things sometimes get, my kids picked up some significant perks from watching me do so much. They’ve learned how important it is to come up stronger every time they have a new, painful experience. My kids know about the art of taking life’s losses in stride. Learning the skill to recover quickly from difficult situations goes a long way with the ability to adapt and persevere.
2. Be financially savvy.
In my house we don’t waste money or food. Learning how to stretch a dollar – a skill which my kids learned at a young age – seems to come with the single mom territory. My kids have developed a frugal mindset and have far less money stress than most people their age. These lessons go a long way in forging their path towards financial independence.
3. It’s ok to be alone.
People often ask me whether I date. The answer is “no”. I’m a happy, healthy, and busy woman, who doesn’t need a man to be happy . I tell my girls I may be alone, but I’m not lonely. Doing things alone can be a wonderful thing. One of the best things my daughter Christy did while interning in New York was explore the city by herself. She was alone and independent… and she was incredibly happy. Meanwhile, my boy has learned to value my and his sisters’ strength and independence.
4. Develop multitasking.
My daughters are two of the best multitaskers I know. From the day I became a single mom, they knew that between work, home, and after school activities, their mom is juggling nonstop. My kids caught this skill automatically and will reap the benefits all through their lives.
5. Enjoy the small things.
When life has more challenges than luxury, everything is much more appreciated. Every little happiness calls for a celebration. I urge my kids to live a full and vibrant life. No point in waiting for things to happen down the road. I encourage them to be passionate, to love deeply and to live every day fully. In our house, memories and special moments triumph possessions. You can’t buy true joy or love.
6. Women are as capable as men.
My kids have seen me do just about anything: from gutting a bathroom to changing car filters, to cutting trees and mowing the lawn, to paying bills, to decorating a birthday cake, to curling my hair and applying make up. etc. This has given them an enlightened view of gender roles.
7. Be independent.
Watching me take care of our family on my own has taught my children to value their education, career and worth in an everlasting way. My kids don’t rely on other people to take care of them. It’s important to be able to be independent and do things on your own.
8. Stay organized.
Single parents manage a lot of responsibility. It takes organization and routines to run a home efficiently. As a result, all my kids thrive in a clutter-free, organized environment.
9. Your siblings are your “forever” friends.
I will not live forever, but I hope that my kids will always have the strongest bond with each other. After all they have been together through awkward, embarrassing, joyous, and miserable times.
10. Raising children alone is the hardest job in the world.
It is always a privilege to be raised by both parents but sometimes life has something else in store for us. Sure, our lives would have been different with two parents. But that doesn’t mean they would have been better. My kids learned about sadness and frustration from me. But they also learned about joy, determination, gratitude and love. So much love for all of them.
What are your thoughts on this controversial topic? Are you a single parent? I’d love to hear your thoughts.