As a single mom raising a son, I know the isolation that can happen when you are doing your best to balance it all. You can be surrounded by a group of loving friends, but it’s hard to find that group that truly relates to your situation. The last thing you want is for people to feel sorry for you. Instead, you want a group where you can vent and really be heard. It’s why I created the Single Mommy Tribe, a private online single mom support group.
The Stress of Single Parenting
Single parents juggle it all from making the money to keep the household afloat to every aspect of discipline and entertainment. The balancing act leads to extra stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and often depression or feelings of isolation. Many single parents are also concerned about finding the right role models, either male or female, to offer positive influences on the kids as they grow up.
As a single mom, there are simply things that I can’t teach or show my son. The same is true for single dads raising girls. It’s not as easy one would think to find the right role models that you trust with your child’s upbringing, after all, they likely have already been dealt a bad deck with mom and dad not being together. Extra care and concern is natural. And while family is a natural surrogate, it isn’t always feasible when families live hundreds or thousands of miles away as was the case for my son.
Finding a Tribe
I never found a great tribe early in my divorce. That isn’t to say I didn’t have friends who supported me, took me out to have drinks, and listened to what was probably incessant venting. I thank God for them but the truth is I was the first in our Moms Club to get a divorce. For whatever reason, the other single moms I’d run into at school had completely opposite schedules than me.
The one place I did find solace was an online chat room, long before Facebook created groups and messenger. I’d show up there for hours and made friends from around the world, all struggling with breakups, but at different parts of the journey. Not everyone was a parent, but everyone was dealing with divorce – usually an ugly one of some sort. Today you can Google or find online and local support groups where you can have a place to share with people who are or have gone through something similar.
Choosing a Support Group
Be selective about choosing a support group. You don’t need to attend one just because it’s there and for single moms. You have to feel like you belong and the people there are ready to offer you love and support. Sometimes these groups do collective things with the kids; that means your child must feel comfortable with the people there too. You may find a co-ed single parent group such as Parents Without Partners or be more comfortable with only single mothers. Test the waters to find out.
A supportive environment is critical to making you feel comfortable and trust that what you share is not going to leave the group or be criticized. As the years have gone by, I’ve found more single moms and certainly have a little tribe that I can vent to though we aren’t an official support group. We’re just single mothers who have found each other and can relate. Some I see more frequently than others, but all are considered part of my community and tribe.
Kid-Aged Support Groups
As single mothers, the feeling of isolation is normal. But we must also consider the isolation our children may feel at times. I know there were family parties we didn’t get invited to because we were only a part family. It’s weird to be the fifth wheel and people don’t do it intentionally, but it happens. And while we mothers can understand it, our children miss out on playing with their tribe at times and can feel singled out.
When you find a good real life support group (not online), you may consider one that has kid-aged activities with moms. This not only provides you with the emotional support you need, but gives your children other kids that relate to them. It can also make for great exchange times where you can swap watching the kids so you can get some ever-needed “me time.” Remember that a community is needed to raise kids and a group where you are able to gather as a family without feeling like a fifth wheel is important.
Activity-Based Support Groups
Activity-based support groups can be a fun way to get out of your comfort zone. This type of community schedules regular activities such as hikes, spa days, and even rock climbing. One of the most empowering things single mothers can do is to find ways to succeed out of their comfort zone. That sounds like it is really a daily life goal and it is; everything is somewhat uncomfortable as a single mom on most days.
But if you want a group that will challenge you to rise to the occasion and reap the benefits of confidence from it, find an activity-based support group. Taking the time to do fun or challenging activities will show you that you have more strength than you realized. My son became really active in mountaineering and rock climbing. I’m afraid of heights yet I found myself rappelling down 100-foot waterfalls to be an active part of his life. Not only did it help us bond, it helped me overcome mental challenges I faced.
Therapy-Based Support Groups
Therapy-based support groups are a great way to save money on therapy for yourself during difficult single mom times, meet people struggling as well, and find the psychological resources to get out of the muck. You can often find therapy-based support groups through local churches or community centers. Some family therapists also advertise groups or workshops for single parents.
This isn’t the type of group that goes out to the park for the day, but you may find one or two people in the group that you really relate to and gel with. Don’t hesitate to take the friendship outside the group and grab coffee with the kids. In the group, you can get the emotional tools needed to grow while building positive relationships outside of the group.
Balanced Life Goals
When you get divorced, imbalance is the first thing that happens. It takes time and work to rebuild the life that you want. It might not look like the life you dreamt of before you got a divorce simply because marriage didn’t work out and now you’re a single mom. However, you can find a fulfilling life if you focus on your priorities and goals. Building the life that you want starts with setting your priorities first.
For me, it was a huge priority to build a career and buy a home for my son. This took time and the reality is I didn’t prioritize dating because I wasn’t where I wanted to be personally. Every time I stepped into the dating world, it felt like someone wanted to come in and rescue me and my son. That didn’t feel empowering. Now that my son is older and my career is doing fine and we have a nice home in Hawaii, my priorities are changing.
My single mom tribe, my community is there to help me stay focused on what is important and what is just the noise of the world. Everyone heals in their own time and there are parts of you that may heal faster than others. Realize that and rely on your community to support you emotionally as you grow. Keep in mind that support groups are there to help you grow, venting is okay when something is fresh, but if your tribe isn’t helping you grow, seek out a new one.
The Single Mommy Tribe is a private Facebook Group where we allow venting, offer resources, and support single moms in their growth. We are a group from around the world who are at different stages of healing. Some are remarried for years while others are fresh in the throws of separation and custody issues. Join us so we can help support you.