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Single Parenting Support: The Importance Of Finding Your Tribe

This parenthood thing is quite the journey. I found that as soon as I get the hang of how to handle something, then  BAM … a new problem surfaced and I’d be back to square one.

Without the other parent in the home to weigh out pros and cons, making decisions – both large and small – can be an exhausting, tedious, and frustrating endeavor to do alone. I found myself second-guessing my rationale and often felt like it was all too much.

Getting Support from Other Single Parents

Luckily, not long after my divorce, I decided I needed a tribe. I needed other single moms to spend time with. People who understood my struggle much more intimately than my married and/or childless friends could. Friends who knew of the delicate struggle I lived with every day as a single mom.

I think everyone can agree that having a tribe is a great idea. The problem is, how do you find your people? After my sons and I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska for five years, we moved back to our beloved Minneapolis. I assumed I would pick-up with my girlfriends without a hitch. And I did, for the most part.

But I’m not going to lie; it was difficult. Most of them were happily married and didn’t have much time or space outside of a lunch or happy hour here and there. We would definitely share parenting challenges, but since they had a solid relationship with their kids’ dad, they had him to strategize with. I didn’t have that, so I began to deliberately look for other single parents.

I struck gold at a large church that had not only terrific youth groups for my boys, but also a single mom’s support group that met at the same time as my kids’ activities. In a flash, I was meeting weekly with 20 or more other single moms who all needed support, love, and encouragement. I even found that I was far enough along in my journey that I could serve as a mentor of sorts at times.

It was in this group that I made some really great friends, including one of my best friends. We saw one another weekly, but really carried the friendship on during the week. Pretty soon, we were getting together on a regular basis for potlucks, walks, movies and of course, happy hours. In between were plenty of emails, texts, and phone calls.

They rallied around me when I had to go to family court. These women made all the difference in the world for me. They understood my walk, they praised me (which – let’s be honest – filled up my bucket in a huge way), and they made me laugh, hard, all the time.

More Single Parents

I met some other really lovely single moms too. I met one sitting at the same table during a professional awards banquet. We got to chatting and I laid out the line about raising boys alone and learned she was in the same situation. We exchanged business cards, then met for lunch and have been friends ever since.

All of this is to say, single moms are everywhere, and we all need one another (and single dads, the same holds for you too). Don’t be shy about letting people know of your situation. You never know who else is on your journey, or maybe has a sister or good friend who needs a tribe. Think of what a win-win this can be!

Sometimes the women you meet will be friends for just a short period of time, and that’s OK, too. Looking back on my life I can see how some friends were only around for a certain season of my life, and I am able to see how we were there for a particular reason. Others will be a huge part of your life for many years to come. Don’t force anything; the best friendships happen when both parties have an itch that needs to be scratched.

My tribe has shifted and evolved over and over again, especially now that my sons are young adults. One of my best friends is single with no kids, but she provides me with terrific perspective. I love her advice because it’s practical and always from her heart. I always know she wants the best for me and, what can I say, that’s a pretty amazing friend.

Tell me about your tribe; where did you find your people?

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.

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