Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™
CHILDREN: How Hard Is It Being a Single Mom?
How hard is it being a single mum just at the age of 19? I get negative feedback from my family that I ruined my life because the child won't have no dad and I won't able to give a good life to my child, because he will be depressed seeing other children with there dad.
I can easily understand how hard it is to be a single mother at 19, or any other age for that matter. However, I know you're far from alone in taking on the task. I also understand you family's impression that you're handicapping your son raising him without a dad, but I seriously disagree with them about that.
Even though I don't know where you live, I predict you'll find many other boys he grows up with, and goes to school with, will have non-traditional families; and while I predict that, I predict nothing else about your future. One lesson I've learned again and again, throughout my life is that it's full of surprises and unexpected changes. Still, chances are you will have to work hard and lose a good deal of sleep with your young son. My advice, therefore, it to get as much help as you can, from wherever you can find it.
I agree with your family, having men in their lives is good for boys; I don't think that has to include a biological father—indeed, I know it doesn't. If there are good, trustworthy males in his life, your son can thrive. But most of all he needs your own love and caring. And you own care will be far easier if you have lots of help. Naseema, I see you live in the UK, I live in the US but I was born and grew up in Birmingham. I want to emphasize that it's almost always better to look outward rather than inward as you raise your son. If there are public services and public nurseries that can help make sure you use them. I hope, too, your family will be there for you; and you are also able to hold on to your friends, and have a social life that allows you to make fresh acquaintances, especially with mothers of young children.
I know all this takes a lot of effort, you may often be exhausted, and wonder if the stress will ever end. Let me assure you the stress lessens, but your concern for your son will never end. Almost everything else does end. With a young child, change happens daily, then every so often something dramatic comes along, and you find yourself on a whole new track in life. When you look back decades from now, I know you'll discover your life has had many episodes that were lives in themselves. If you can make the best of each of them, you'll look back with pride and satisfaction. Please devote yourself to your son for a while. I want you to remember this time as hard, but rewarding. And it will be if there are hands to help you.
So, Naseema, be flexible, not rigid, and trust good people as you find them. Keep in mind the saying it takes a village to raise a child. I doubt you're in a village, but there's a community around you. Don't lose sight of it. Shrug off you family's fears, and enlist your male relatives to be role models for your son. He'll be fine if they help you out.