We love to hear from our readers and take requests for blog topics (see our 'I Dare You' page for details). Today's topic comes from a reader in Vermont:
Blog Topic: We have a house guest who is a retired obstetrician. He was telling us that the number of babies born to single mothers has exploded in our society, in many areas well above 50%. He felt raising a child effectively as a single parent, while possible, cannot happen in the midst of other overwhelming life issues. As a society, how do we work on this? Welfare often seems to send the wrong message, we want to protect the child without treading all over individual freedoms, and we live in a world where success depends more and more heavily on education and highly developed skills. Help!
Being the co-creators that we are, we both felt compelled to respond.
Energetically, we can shift our collective mindset from one of stigmatizing parents (any person, for that matter) who need assistance to one of collectively lifting up those among us who face “overwhelming life issues” as the reader says. It’s not just the financially challenged who need help, and it’s not just about money (although money certainly helps). It’s a fundamental change in how we view the people with whom we create our lives. Society is made up of you and me, and our culture is made up of the individual choices we all make. Without reaching into our pocketbooks, we can contribute to the security of the people around us. How? By clearing stereotypes of people who receive assistance, by accepting that we are in this life together, and by allowing our spirit to connect with the spirits of others.
One more observation - how we define “effective” parenting and “success” are important. The measure of a person’s value to society is more than their financial net worth. Yes - people need money to navigate the world. But how much? At what cost? Perhaps if we more openly validate people who cultivate their connection to Spirit, and enthusiastically encourage people to share their innate gifts and talents, we would enlarge our picture of success and see that there is a lot more of it in the world than we thought. And perhaps then we would be more comfortable sharing support and love with those single parents.
I want to highlight that the topic is single parenting -- I would like to broaden the scope to suggest that even in committed relationships, there is a feeling of 'single' parenting as often a majority of the parenting falls to one parent in order to leverage work schedules to financially survive. Many times the parent left in the "single" parenting role works too; simply works less than the other partner making them the default 'primary' parent.
I spend the majority of my days single parenting. I have a loving and wonderful spouse who is as present and connected to our four children as he can be given the demands and circumstances of life. The demands of work take him outside of the home 10 to 12 hours a day during the work week. Part time single parenting is tough! I had a conversation just the other day with a full time working mom of one who commented how the majority of day care responsibilities fall to her even though she too is married to a capable, engaged, wonderful partner.
Support, support, support. Not to be cliche - it takes a village. I know for me personally the only way I manage four kids day to day while my spouse is working is through lots of help - babysitters, family, friends. And I still don't always do it perfectly and financially, well, we won't talk about that right now.
How do we create support? How do we do a better job fostering a village? How do we make it okay to ask for help? How do we make it affordable to have help? How do we engage collectively versus individually? How do we shift the mentality from that's your issue to that is 'our' issue? How do we foster a broader sense of community?
It starts with a hello. It starts with an offer. It starts with an interest. It starts with a shift in consciousness. It starts with honesty. It starts with asking. It starts with accepting. It starts with seeing. It starts with validating. It starts with a decision to help. It starts with deciding to participate. It starts with you and me.
And that is the answer: you and me. You and me creating consciously together. Choosing to support, help, aid, listen, guide, offer, accept, and be there as a community, together rather than single. That's how they did it decades ago...it's time to go back to simpler times and support each other - neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend.