My hat is off to single moms.
I’d always heard single parenting was hard, but I never really understood how it was hard until I was widowed four years ago. Suddenly, I was a single mom of seven and more worn out and stretched than ever before. In the years since, I’ve felt more isolated, overwhelmed and underequipped than at any other point in my parenting.
Your single mom friend may make it look easy. But trust me that she knows how many plates she’s had to drop to keep the important ones spinning.
While she may not tell you, your single mom friend needs help.
I’m so grateful for the times my married friends have stepped in to help; they’ve been lifesavers more than once! And if you have a single mom friend in your life, even your small actions could be a huge help.
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Here are 6 ways to help your single mom friend:
Be a listener.
Your single mom friend needs someone she can trust. She may need to talk about a hard day, wrestle through an issue or talk about how she’s feeling. Be a safe friend who your single mom friend can confide in. Listening well is a huge gift you can give her.
Be a trusted adviser.
One of the hardest things about single parenting is the sheer number of decisions that have to be made alone. The single mom makes hundreds of decisions by herself every day. I cannot begin to describe how helpful it is to have a friend I trust for advice. As a friend, you can ask questions to help the single mom work through a big decision or bring an objective perspective to her decision-making.
Going from married to single meant that my workload doubled. Between work, house, yard, finances and parenting, most single moms have way too much to do. Be understanding if your single mom friend can no longer do the things you used to together. If she can’t get out for coffee, bring it over to her house one night after the kids are in bed. Instead of the annual birthday shopping trip, offer to take her kids shopping for her birthday presents.
Be another driver.
This is a place where you can be a huge help. While my husband and I used to divide and conquer the parent meetings, practices, and lessons, nowadays I often have to be two places at once. You can always set up carpooling ahead of time but look for a spontaneous need as well. If you see her child at practice, text her and offer to drive her child home.
Be a supporter.
Married parents can lean on each other when making decisions or encourage on the hard days, but single parents are going it alone. This is where a good atta-girl goes a long way. Be specific. A good report on character shown by one of her kids or affirmation of how your friend handled something will give her a huge boost to dig down and keep parenting well.
When my husband died and I was suddenly single, I worried my friendships would change. Most single moms have already gone through a painful loss and the last thing they need with all the change and upheaval is to lose a good friend. It might look different, but find a way to include your single mom friend and make sure she knows that her singleness doesn’t affect your friendship.
This post was first published on iMOM.com.