Stable Solo Parenting Trumps Two-Parent Turbulence
By Theresa Chevalier
“It is easier to raise four kids on my own than it is to raise them while in a bad marriage.”
– Theresa Chevalier
Raising kids solo has been a part of my lifestyle for over twenty years now.
Occasionally I’ve been privileged to glimpse into the lives of those families that have two loving parents and each are equally involved in their children’s lives. For a brief moment I may allow myself to picture what that must feel like. But dwelling too long on the “if only” could lead to self-pity and regret, so I quickly shut the thoughts down and focus on my reality.
Being the sole provider and caretaker is all I know — and when I think back to why I’m here — I know that for the well-being of my children and myself, it was the right choice.
Years ago I stated it was easier to raise four kids on my own than raise them while in a bad marriage.
I still firmly believe this. In those early years, I had two marriages that were both detrimental to our collective well-being. In my case, one of the men had severe OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and the other had a raging temper and money management issues.
Other women/men I know spent years in marriages with partners who were alcoholics, cheaters, abusive, and the list can go on. Some of these issues don’t show themselves until marriage — and then people feel very obligated to their vows.
As difficult as it is to leave these situations, my advice as a much older and wiser woman is: don’t waste another second. Get out.
It actually takes more strength to leave than to stay. The emotional damage our kids suffer during a bad marriage can take years to rectify and in some cases the trauma is there for life.
Early on we can see the special gifts our children possess. But as they age, with all the pain they’ve witnessed or had directed at them, you may see them wither and hide these gifts. It is one of the saddest things to see your child physically alive and yet all that they were — all their potential — has died.
So, how is it easier raising them alone?
The first thing that disappears is all the emotional negative tension in the home.
Once the kids realize they can trust that the peaceful lifestyle will remain, they are so much happier. Life becomes fun once more.
For us, although finances were and have always been very meager, I could manage and live on a budget. There were no longer the worries that someone had drained us completely and how would we buy groceries?
Maybe, for the first time, life can become about your children, rather than the constant emotional needs of this other person. Your kids can feel valued and important.
Many children living with alcoholics/drug addicts have said they always feel as though the booze/drugs are more important than they are.
Some couples I know, who are still struggling, have a hard time giving up the “money” of co-habiting. But a peaceful life is priceless.
I felt more alone and lonely in the marriage than I ever have living on my own.
We have expectations of our partner and when very few of these are met, it’s depressing. Whereas, when raising your kids solo, you set your own goals and expectations and you do your utmost to meet them. It’s very rewarding.
I believe you gain time as a single parent as you are no longer wasting hours of time arguing and fixing. This time can be used to focus on your children’s lives and dreams, as well as your own.
While raising four kids and working fulltime I managed to write two historical novels. People often ask me how I’ve managed to accomplish this. Here’s how:
5 Tips on Solo Parenting
1. The things you want to do the least, that are the most uncomfortable; force yourself to do these first.
2. Stop saying, “We’ll see” — say yes or no.
3. And if it’s yes, put it on a calendar that you check every day — this way you can be mentally ready for everything.
4. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by looking at the big picture of coping for twenty years — take each day one at a time.
5. Hug your kids, tease them . . . find things to laugh about.
Solo parenting can be a wonderful journey. There are days when you’ll be sitting in Emergency for hours or waiting to talk to the principal — and days when your kids will tell you you’re the worst parent ever. It’s not always easy.
But within all these chaotic moments there is still such an abundance of love. I have been so blessed with the opportunities to test my parenting and personal strengths to ultimately soar successfully on my own.
Theresa Chevalier is a single parent of four who works full-time in management. To give back to the world and show appreciation for all she has been privileged to experience, she writes meaningful, thought-provoking, historical novels. To learn more about Shameful Innocence and Green Hell, please visit www.theresachevalier.com.