Children Come First After Divorce

When we are married there is no earthly relationship more important than that between a husband and wife.  When one divorces however, things need to shift and your children become the most important earthy relationship, period.

I know several people who think I am crazy, I have literally been mocked because I believe that I should remain single.  I believe that remaining single will give my kids their best chance at a stable home.

For several years I use to teach a course at the Billings Family YMCA where I worked as the Family and Youth Program Director.  The course was simply called “Childhood Abuse Prevention”.  Although this course was directed towards childcare workers and how they could help a child who may be experiencing abuse, I learned a lot that I applied to my own life and my own reasons as to WHY I feel led to remain single.  This particular blog will focus on my #1 reason for staying single, I have several – but to me, this reason is a no-brainer.

Most resources will tell us that every year in the United States, over 3 million children are abused.  This abuse would include, physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect.  What is more difficult to find is a breakdown of WHO is doing the abusing.  One great resource that I had found is actually on the Department of Health and Human Services page here. Now, you have to read carefully and not just look at the graphs to find out exactly what the break down is.  For example, the graph will look show you the big picture – that 51% of ALL charged cases of abuse came from the biological father.  However, the breakdown of the percentages of what type of abuse comes a little later and shows us this:  50% were charged with neglect only, 26% were charged with physical abuse only, 7% were charged with emotional abuse only, 7% were charged with sexual abuse only, and 11% were charged with some combination of the above.

To me, being a single mom wondering about dating and someday remarrying, I was really interested in what percent of abusers were boyfriends and stepfathers.  Here is what they found of all charged abuse cases.

Boyfriends of the mother: 31% were charged with neglect only. 30% were charged with physical abuse only. 20% were charged with sexual abuse only. 6% were charged with emotional abuse only. And 13% were charged with some combination of the above.

Stepfathers: 20% were charged with neglect only. 34% were charged with physical abuse only. 30% were charged with sexual abuse only.  4% were charged with emotional abuse only. And 12% were charged with some combination of the above.

Moms, are you paying attention here?  In reality, The percentage points remained some what close – except in the area of neglect and sexual abuse.  Biological fathers are more likely to be neglectful and less likely to sexually abuse their children when compared to boyfriends and stepfathers.  HOWEVER, Boyfriends and Stepfathers are MUCH more likely to sexually abuse your child.  Much. More. Likely.

I want to also point out that these numbers are based only on those who have gotten caught and who have been charged with the crime.  According to the Department of Justice, only about 30% of sexual abuse is actually reported to authorities.  How much higher are these numbers really?  The point is, much higher than we think.

My choice for remaining a single mom is my choice.  I believe that protecting my children is more important than having a companion.  I am not ignorant to the fact that children are also abused by uncles, cousins, older kids, and even women.  As a mom, I have also done everything that I possibly can to prevent this from happening.  I also know that sometimes really bad things happen.  However, I have made the personal commitment to NOT bring it into my home and to keep my home a safe place for my children.

I think that if more moms are aware of these statistics, it can help them guard their children from abusers.  Take steps and the actions needed to guard your children because the fact is – once the sexual abuse has happened, it’s happened.  Their lives won’t be the same.

The real question is this mom, will you do anything differently knowing this?

Mother’s Day for a Single Mom

Let’s face it, sometimes “special days” can be hard on single moms.  For young children, daycare and school will often provide them with a special gift for their mom.  But when they get a little older (about 3rd grade for my kids), they are no longer given help or an opportunity to plan something.

When I was kid, my father would remind us that Mother’s Day was coming up and he would often help us “plan” something special, like hand-made cards and lunch out.  When we were a little older, he would take us to the mall so we could purchase a little something with our allowance money.

It can be tempting to feel down on days like this because our children may forget and didn’t make that sweet homemade card.  It is easy to feel disappointed, but we can’t put unrealistic expectations on our children.  We can however take control of the day and turn it into something truly special.

First things first!

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor moms.  That means it’s your special day and you can plan the day however you would like!  Make a plan, decide what special things you would like to do with your kids.  Maybe it’s having a pajama party and watching movies all day (because mom could use a break) with pizza and popcorn.  Maybe you would like to treat yourself to an afternoon at the zoo and finish it off with a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant.  Whatever it is that you would like to do, plan it!  Don’t sit at home all sad and depressed – take control and make it a fun day for you and your kids.

Announce it in the Morning

When you wake up your kids, ask them – “hey, do you know what today is? “If they don’t know – tell them with lots of excitement in your voice!  Let them in on the fun!  If they didn’t make you a card, you might find one later on your pillow.  Let your kids get excited and join in on the fun, trust me – they will be excited to share a special day with you.

Count your Blessings

Most importantly, count your blessings.  Be thankful for your children and for the many blessings that you have in your life.  It’s pretty difficult to be down when you realize just how much you really have.

Take the day to be thankful and to give back to others, celebrate motherhood with other moms around you.   Do you know other single moms who might be struggling on Mother’s Day?  Maybe you could plan something with them and their children, spread the joy and the excitement.  One of the best ways to feel celebrated and loved is to celebrate and love others!

Even though Mother’s Day may not look like the way you had always hoped and dreamed, you can choose to feel celebrated and choose to enjoy the day with your children.  Refuse to give in to feelings of disappointment and take charge of your day.

I would love to hear what you planned for your special day, post in the comments below!

Happy Mother’s Day and have fun!

 

Life After a Non-Traditional Student Graduates

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

Here I am, 38 years old and finally a college graduate!  Now what?

I have been asking myself this for the past several days.  I have been working towards this goal for the past 4 years.  To accomplish this goal, I had to go to school for 3 semesters a year.  Spring, summer and fall…so it has been a constant in my life for 4 years.  It gave me something to work for, a purpose – more than the usual day to day of going to work and caring for my kids.  I am finding myself empty right now, relieved – but empty.

I thought that after school, I would begin to look for my “dream” job.  However, I have become attached to my co-workers and the place that I work.  The schedule works out REALLY well for my children, I get home only a little over an hour from when they are out of school.  I have some flexibility where I am currently at, which is really important as a single mom.  I have some sick time and some vacation time – more than most moms in my situation.

The thought of ministry keeps coming to mind.  I have always wanted to help other single moms because when I felt that I needed some help and encouragement –  I found it lacking.  That was over a decade ago, is this something that is still needed today?

As you can see, I am struggling.  I guess I sort of thought that I would have it all figured out when I finally arrived at this point, but I don’t.  I might be even be more confused about my future now than I was BEFORE I started college!

I obviously don’t have a clear picture of what my future will look like now, but I do know that there is one constant in my life that will never change and that is the fact that God is in control.  He knows the desires of my heart.  He knows what is best for me and my little family.  He has a plan for me and even if it hasn’t been revealed yet, I know he has one.  And for now, that will have to be enough.

For now, I feel led to continue writing to single moms and to have an encouraging presence on social media.  I know that being a single mom – especially as a Christian, can feel lonely.  Who knows, maybe I will write a book and get to do all the things I had hoped for when I became a single mom.  Whatever the road I take, as long as the Lord is walking beside me, then I will know it is good.

He has plans for me.  Plans not to harm me…but to give me a hope and a future.  That sounds pretty good to me.