By Teri Worten, a single mom
Sounds harsh, huh? But let's think about it objectively. Now, what does a dumb mom do?
Here are a few symptoms:
She chooses a man over the well-being of her children.
The most important people in a single mom's world are her children. This means that their needs, safety and, sometimes even their desires, come before anyone else. Simply put, never allow men to mistreat your children. Some men think it's macho to discipline or criticize [other people's] kids. Some men even do it in a perverted attempt to impress the single mom. Don't fall for it and don't allow it. A wise, prudent man understands his place in your life and doesn't try to overstep it.
Here's an extra thought: never, ever - under any circumstance - leave your children alone with a man that you do not absolutely, one hundred percent know and trust. Too many children end up dead and/or abused because some unthinking mother leaves them unattended with a lover. Single mom, always be around when you're children are with anyone other than you. Further, don't allow any man to hit them or verbally abuse them - ever!
She puts her own needs ahead of her children.
We've all seen it, women who are sporting Versace and Gucci while their children are wearing worn clothes and outgrown. Always take care of your children's needs first. Use whatever is left to spend on your indulgences. A mother's first responsibility is to the child. Your hair can wait to be styled, and our nails won't fall off if you miss a week or two of pampering. Again, take care of your kids first.
Remember, your kids didn't ask to be born, it was your "act" that brought them here, so don't slight them by not properly meeting their needs.
She's not involved in the lives of their children.
Being a mom is more than just feeding and clothing your children. Take the time to get to know your kids. They are not "nuisances" or "distractions" in your day; they're your babies! They need your undivided attention whenever possible and as often as possible. Spend time asking poignant questions [of each child], like "what do you think of this or that" or "if red wasn't your favorite color, what would be?"
Get to know them and sow into the lives of your young people. You'll be glad you did later.
She puts down the children's father.
I understand the temptation, but as single moms, we have to be extra careful not to insult and demean our exs in front of our children. This can create a low self image in children and even lead some children to feel that they must chose between the mom and dad. Similarly, when a child considers the hateful sentiments his mother has against his father, the child could begin to draw the conclusion that they, too, are "bad" or "undesirable".
Taking this thought a bit further, never, ever blame your child for the deeds of their dad. Who could forget the mother in a popular motion picture about three African American boys growing up in the urban core? In the movie, the mother's character constantly insulted, and verbally abused one son and compared him to his "horrible" father. It was hurtful to even watch on the movie screen, but so many children live that reality everyday.
She yells at and humiliates her children.
We've all seen the crying, whining kids in the grocery store lines.
Although children should be disciplined when they misbehave, name-calling and striking are not acceptable means for public discipline. Regardless of my personal opinion on the topic, these actions are so demeaning to children that it can cause them to become overly shy and withdrawn in public places. Every mom wants their children to behave, especially in public. But we also we want them to grow into uninhibited, free individuals with confidence and vigor. Humiliating a child in a public place can inhibit this type of healthy development.
As moms, we are not meant to humiliate our children, but to build their confidence and promote healthy development. So, bear in mind that the ultimate goal is to teach the child how to conduct themselves in a public place, not to break his little spirit. Besides, public displays of screaming and hitting really make mom look ignorant, uncouth and silly. When these scenarios happen, there are always people [like me] rolling their eyes and wishing someone would call 911 on the out of control mom. Whew!
She spoils them rotten
We all know moms like this and, boy, is it annoying! Without consideration for boundaries, these moms give their children everything and anything they desire. The end result is a child with no respect for authority and no appreciation for hard work.
She blames the children for her current position in life.
The choices you made were the choices YOU made. Don't ever allow yourself to get lost in "la la" land dreaming of what your life would have been had you not had children. Face the reality that it's probably not your children's fault that you can no longer wear a size three! And it's more than likely not your children's fault that you can't "find anyone" and I'll bet its not the children's fault that you can't keep anyone.
Undoubtedly, there are shallow men out there that won't date a woman with children. But think about it for a moment. Is that the type of man you want around anyway? You know as well as I do that there are tons of single moms that have found wonderful relationships with men that love them and all that comes along with them as well. So, when the time is right and when you're ready, you'll find that right person and he'll love you and your children boundlessly. In the meantime, work on being the best "you" that you can be.
Remember, that none of us is perfect, but we can aspire to be better as moms - our most important repsonsiblity. Every day presents a blank piece of paper for us to re-write our stories, behaviors and aspirations. We can always start anew, change our habits and be the best single moms that we can be.
Originally titled "Don't Be A Dumb Single Mom," we changed the title due to a person(s) taking the title out of context, and feeling insulted. As one former single mom/mod from our forums said, when I asked for her counsel on this matter, the advice in this article applies to all caregivers.
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