I am always looking for article ideas and one of the places I look are the search files for the single parents’ site on BellaOnline.com. One of the search phrases listed this morning caused me to stop and think. The phrase was very simple, “regret kids”. I have no idea as to the searcher’s intent when they keyed this phrase into the search tool; however, I felt immediate compassion for this person. Being a single parent is not easy, especially with today’s economy, and this phrase seemed to radiate confusion, stress, worry and despair.
Not all single parents are successful in being single parents. We try – we give it our all – we work and we struggle. We love and we nurture. We want the best for our children. But there are single parents out there who lose their jobs, their homes, and find themselves homeless with children. There are those who realize that they cannot handle the stress of the situation that led them to single parent status, plus a job, plus raising children. There are those with other problems that consume their time and their efforts.
It is not that they don’t love their children, or that they even blame them for their problems, but simply that they feel pain, shame or anger because they cannot take care of their children the way they ultimately desire. And regret creeps in.
Let me say again, single parenting is not easy. And just as some people are not meant to be parents, some people cannot deal with single parenting. Before that regret turns into something worse, they need to confront their emotions and their situation and do what is best for their children and themselves.
This is a difficult and confrontational topic. No matter how it is handled, someone is sure to object. I can hear the words of people I trust and admire state, “You had a child, now you have to buckle down and care for them.” I cannot say that I disagree. However, there are times and people who cannot just “buckle down and care for them.” Is the answer to struggle and allow the frustration and anger to grow? Not hardly. This will only worsen the situation. Frustration and anger over the situation in a family, the struggle to support children, the thought of failure, will only exacerbate the situation and often leads to depression, frustration, child abuse or neglect.
If you are one of those single parents who feels that they are at the end of their rope and that they simply cannot care for their children, please, reach out for assistance. Your local United Way supports family service centers which provide individual and family counseling on a sliding scale based on income. Give them a call. There is not shame in seeking out the local food banks if you are having a hard time putting food on the table. Better to ask and feed your children than listen to them cry because they are hungry. It can be very hard to admit that your situation is beyond your control, but it is very important to understand that there are people who care and who will understand. There are people who can assist you and will do so without judgment. Better to seek that assistance before the anger and frustration builds to a point where your actions are irreversible and damaging.
I must also admit that if you are in a situation as a parent where it is completely impossible for you to care for your children, leaving them with family or a trusted friend while you – find a job, seek professional help, get your life in order, whatever it takes – is not a shameful act. Sometimes it is through sacrifice that we can most show our love. In extreme situations, giving up a child for adoption can be a blessing in disguise, even when some will judge you harshly for doing so. There are some situations where pain in unavoidable; however, you must ask yourself if your child will experience more pain if the situation remains the same, or if it changes. If you cannot trust your own decisions, again, this is where family and experienced professionals can help you make the decision that is best for you and your children.
Without a doubt, I have to state that my desire is to see every family intact, healthy and happy. Work at keeping your family whole. However, being a realist, I know that families don’t always survive circumstances. In such cases, the most important aspect of survival is that the children be in an environment where love and safety are paramount. No matter how hard it might be, let that be your goal.