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Lessons from Linda
What's Important to a Single Mom

When you've been a single mom for a little while, you realize what's most important in your life. You're family - through it all - is what you have - unconditionally- forever.

Unconditional love - I learned that phrase years ago. It's universal and I'm grateful for knowing what it means. I fully intend to make sure my daughters understand it as well.

People make horrendously stupid mistakes. We all do. What helps the most, what God intended for us, is that we have the capacity to forgive and watch out for each other.

This is important when your daughters get a little older and spend less time with the non-residential parent. The cultural, ethical and moral values are taught at home. I also have my extended family and which provides them with other role models and aspects of life different from their typical day at home.

Everyone in the family is an influence on the life of your children. Whether the influences are good or bad - they are there. Above all, we need to be honest with our kids and let them know how you feel about things.

I've been fortunate and my girls are great kids. This is partly because I have been very conscious about not speaking badly about their dad in front of them (no matter how hard this can be… and we know how hard this can be).

We need to remember something very important. Kids are a product of two people - Mom AND Dad. If Mom speaks badly about Dad - the kids feel the effects of it as well, and it makes them feel bad.

If you're fortunate enough, you might still be able to have a mom to talk to. Whether it's about your job, how to raise your kids or how your relationship with your husband or x-husband is. Maybe you don't have your mom to talk to. Maybe she's deceased, or ill or incapable of discussion for whatever reason.

I still wish I could go out to lunch with my mom. She's been gone nearly 17 years. I regret very much that my daughters didn't' get the chance to know her. I want them to know her; so I will talk about her and reminisce as much as I can. I find it can be painful sometimes because I still hurt from that loss.

Every child should have some sense of her/himself and their past, where they came from and who they are in terms of how they fit in their family, home, community, culture and city. More than ever, single parents have the burden to teach this to their children, because they don't have the benefit of realizing what a "nuclear family" is because it isn't an every day part of their life.

So, we single parents need to talk to them about it. We want them to know how a loving caring nuclear family can be - they need to know this for their future relationships.

I do want to say, life is very much what you make of it. You have a bad day because you let it be a bad day. I've driven home from work many times crabby about a day at work or maybe because I'm just angry about how my life is at that given moment. But when one of my daughters comes home feeling sad, life comes into perspective.

I want so much more for my girls. I want to teach them confidence and strength. They have parents and grandparents that are strong, caring and loving. Every parent wants their child to excel to a point greater than where they came from. As parents, we are obligated to push and coerce this, no matter how much our kid's rebel - we all should know - in the end - they will thank us for it.

So as single parents, remember we aren't doing them any favors by doing everything for them or indulging them too much. We need to allow ourselves to let them be independent and make their own mistakes. We did and we are better people because of it. We can share our knowledge and wisdom - at least to the point that they will listen.

I just went back to college to obtain my Bachelor's degree. I'm excited and nervous and it's not so easy. Time is precious. My 13 and 15 year old daughters still need me to help them at times with homework and I'm happy they ask me. I may not always be able to help them (yikes - math, I'm not so good at). But I am trying to do good things in my life for me and them.

Going back to college and volunteering in several community organizations is a good thing for them to observe. I know I'm showing them how to contribute and give of themselves.

So what I've learned about myself, as a divorcee for about 8 years now, I know I am independent, strong and able. I find that I want to learn so much more. We single parents need to stick together, gain strength and think more positively than we really want to. It's so easy to just relax and be numb.

Life can be very exciting if we allow it to be. We only need to open our minds and hearts for what's "out there". I look forward to my future adventures and what life will bring me.

What we need to remember is, life is what we make of it! I know that I can only do this because I have daughters who laugh at me when I tell them I have homework or a test to study for, sisters to laugh with and reminisce about growing up and the power to know that if I am okay - my kids will be okay.

I know somewhere it's been written, when Mom's happy - everybody's happy!

So today, as I write this, I'm happy… not perfect… but happy!

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