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A Letter To All Single Parents At Christmas

A Letter To All Single Parents At Christmas

Dear single parents,

I am not a single parent (nor even a parent). I was not raised by a single parent. My mother and father, despite whatever difficulties they may have had, kept together out of a desire to keep their children together over the years.

So, I know right away that to understand the difficulties of a single parent is a challenge. Perhaps I could get away by murmuring my sympathies about what a horrible thing it must be to be a single parent – but that is the wrong thing to do.

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Today, about 30 percent of all U.S. households are single-parent households, with single mothers accounting for about one quarter of those households, while single fathers are another 6 percent. To not understand those households means not understanding almost a third of the American population. Society, as a whole, needs to understand both the plights and joys of its people.

Perhaps the first and most important thing which individuals like myself can understand is that single parenting is not an endless excursion of misery which churns out deadbeat adults who become drunks or criminals. Yes, single parents (as a whole) are economically worse off than married families since there is only one source of income. Yes, there are days where you just want to sleep but cannot. Yes, there are opportunities which you miss out on because you do not have someone else by your side.

That said, there is plenty of joy in parenting, whether single or otherwise. Whether you see your child win a baseball game or choose to spend an afternoon with him, you chose to have a child in the first place because you understood the joys which come with it. That joy still remains even if your spouse has not.

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You love your children, and are willing to do whatever is necessary so that they can be happy, healthy, and productive adults. However, the rhetoric which our society has about single parents does not acknowledge this. Instead, politicians talk about how “broken families” have led to all sorts of terrible social ills which afflict this country.

However, those politicians do not understand an obvious fact: no one forms a single family because they want to. They form single families because it is the only way out from a family which is already broken. By becoming single, you can gain new-found independence and autonomy which sometimes cannot be found even in a healthy two-parent household.

Just look at the example of Amanda Lamond-Holden, who discovered she was pregnant but is now running an emergency center in San Diego. Not everyone can be like her, but at the same time, a single parent is not inherently doomed to some miserable existence which will produce a miserable child.

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You work, you live, and you get by. You love your child and even taught them to use a porta potty. That love is the most important thing in the world. No one can take that away from you.

This love doesn’t negate the pain caused by hurtful remarks from others, like: “Oh, my husband is out on a trip, so it’s like I’m a single mother for the next week!” “Don’t your kids need a father figure in their lives?” “How do you do it? I know I couldn’t!”

I’ll admit, I have said things like this when talking with single mothers. I meant well. I was trying to relate, yet all I did was bring up bad memories or sound condescending. As much as I can try to understand what the experience is like, there is a massive gap between reading or talking to single parents and actually experiencing the whole thing for yourself.

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I can definitely understand one thing – the fact that you are single, does not mean that you are interested in bringing another person into your family. Far too often, others assume that a single parent is lonely and looking for company. However, for all of the reasons which have been discussed up to this point, single parents are often just fine with being single.

They are not looking to bring in anyone else into their lives, nor are they looking for a surrogate husband or wife. Some of you do, of course, and some of you do not. For at the end of the day, all of you are individuals with your own personal interests, experiences, and desires.

As Shawna Wingate from Huffington Post observed, I hope that your children, and those around you, truly appreciate the burdens and joys which you handle every single day. Parenthood is one of the most important fabrics for building this society. A strong single parent is worth a thousand thanks and hugs.

With the holiday season winding down, please try to get some rest, stay positive, and smile with what you have accomplished. God knows, you’ve earned it.

Featured photo credit: Erik Söderström via flickr.com

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5 Ways to Put Together an Event Without Stress

5 Ways to Put Together an Event Without Stress

We’ve all had important events that have required a lot of our time and energy to put together. Events like weddings, graduation parties, and birthdays often need planning, thought, and can be incredibly time consuming.

Fortunately, there are some ways you can plan an event without tearing your hair out. In fact, putting together these events can be quite fun when you have the tools in order to help your event run smoothly.

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Here are five ways you can make your event run smoothly and efficiently.

1. Plan far in advance

Oftentimes, the most stressful events are usually the ones that are planned at the last minute. If you know that you have an event coming up (such as a wedding or a birthday), and you plan for it ahead of time, you are less likely to find yourself running around at the last moment trying to get every detail perfect.

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It might be worth it to sit down and have a planning session or two in order to relieve some of the stress of planning an entire party or event in a short period of time. The longer you have to plan, the more your event will eventually look like how you have imagined.

2. Know where to give yourself a break

While you might have a certain idea of what your event should look like (and more often than not, it looks like it should belong in a magazine), you might not have the budget or the connections to make it happen. Accepting the realities of planning an event, such as using fake flowers instead of real ones, or folding chairs instead of designer-brand chairs, can greatly ease your mind. Likely, you will still have a beautiful event even if it doesn’t match your mental picture.

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3. Don’t invite too many people

One mistake many people make is that they often invite too many guests to their event. Not only does this sometimes create unnecessary chaos, but it also requires extra planning, time, and food for the guests.

Having hundreds of people at a wedding might seem like a good idea initially, but you might want to consider whether it is truly important to your day to have an extra hundred people attend. Not only does it run up the cost, but it can make your event all the more stressful—meaning you’ll be worrying more if there are enough canapés than whether you are having a good time.

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4. Ask for help

There are those who can put together an entire event on his or her own, and there are those who need a little help doing it. More likely than not, if you’re not a professional event planner, then it might be worth it to ask for a little help. Hiring someone to help you, even if it is just for some basic decorations, can take your mind off the little things, and can help you focus on the overall effect of the party. Even asking for a friend’s opinion can help you to feel like you have some control over the situation.

5. Take a deep breath

Remember, part of putting together a successful event is knowing that it won’t go exactly as planned. Being able to take a step back, relax, and enjoy yourself will not only help you feel as though you’ve done a successful job, but it will also help you to enjoy the special day that you have put together.

Part of the fun of an event is accepting the mishaps and mistakes – it makes the day unique. After you’ve completed everything, remember to relax and enjoy the party. You deserve it!

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