Is Your Family Broken Because You Are A Single Mum?
“If being single makes me whole then I’ll take being single over any fragmented relationship.
When I sit alone with myself I can listen to the beat of my own drum.
I can go down paths I never knew existed and forge my own way.
And in that I return to a place of love.” - Fiona Ng
I had some one contact me not so long ago when she learnt of my separation.
“I really hope you don’t mind me sending you this but I just wanted to say that I think you’re so brave to follow your dream and go it alone.
It must have been a really scary decision but my mum left my dad when we were about your kids age and it was the best decision for everyone. We were just all so much happier apart. I think it can sometimes feel like people must be judging you but whenever I see women do it alone I’m always so bloody impressed. It takes some serious balls”.
It was a welcome reminder that listening to my intuition was the right thing and I could choose to ignore others unhelpful comments where I’d be told things like “Try and make things work for the kids” Or “But you were so good together, maybe you are both just stressed.”
Often such feedback is given as a separation/divorce challenges your beliefs as it did indeed challenge my own. I realised that what ever beliefs I held and carried around weren’t in fact my own but the ones pressed upon me from others partly from growing up adopting other people’s values and never defining what my own were.
But your children are going to grow up in a broken home?
But are they?
What is actually ‘broken?’
It has been said that should parents split up, separate, divorce that children affected grow up in ‘broken homes’ however it’s time to redefine ‘broken’ and look at this differently. It’s not the structure of the family that matters (parents can live apart/together etc, gay, straight, bisexual..insert own here )
Research actually shows family structure itself has LITTLE effect on a child’s on cognitive or emotional development (over 25% of kids are brought up in single parent relationships and they do no better or worse than children in a conventional set up)
Because we all know of parents that stayed together when they shouldn’t have done, perhaps even your own parents did? For many of us grew up with the traditional family structure where both parents lived and stayed together so outwardly looked intact however inwardly was far broken than others imagined.
The relationships we have are what we model to our children so it doesn’t matter whether you are in a marriage or whether you are a single parent. What matters is how parents RELATE to one another, whether they communicate positively to one another and also how they speak about one another.
“I grew up in a broken home. But not because my parents divorced. It was broken long before, when the love turned to hate. When they finally divorced, there was actually more room to breathe. All the energy that went into managing the breaks, could be channeled into healing. It’s time we reframed the shaming term, “broken home”. It is riddled with assumptions and judgement. And it neglects the fact that many single parents held their families together beautifully. And that many seemingly intact families are deeply broken. Because a home is not broken when parents separate or divorce. A home is broken when there is an absence of love. If there is love, nothing’s broken.”
- Jeff Brown, author of Grounded Spirituality.
Some of us as children experienced conflict and arguing more than we would have liked which not only affected us emotionally but also greatly impacted our nervous system and also provided us with a model which we were to later base our own relationships upon.
Of course there’s such thing as healthy anger and it would be impossible to go through life without experiencing conflict, however the question is did parents model to us how to positively resolve conflict?
Or were we subject to feeling the vibrations of a hostile environment and stonewalling by parents who themselves had no clue how to regulate their own emotions or communicate in a healthy manner.
The old adage “try to make things work for the sake of the kids” doesn’t take into consideration the type of children we have or the dynamics our children are subject fo facing on a daily basis.
Perhaps your child is highly sensitive and an empath therefore feels things deeply. They sense things in the room that others may not pick up on, they are very intuitive and pick up on the distress of those around them.
And regardless of what type of child you have, most children can be narcissistic in the sense they believe everything is about them. So when mum and dad argue they internalise that it must be their fault.
This isn’t to make you feel bad if you are arguing in front of your children as of course there’s many who positively resolve conflict and model that to their children. And there’s also parents who are conscious of the repair work after a child has been exposed to an argument. (The talking, the answering questions, reassurances, self soothing afterwards). Our children need to see we are human after all.
What I’d like to highlight here is that most parents who do decide to part ways don’t make that decision lightly and somewhere inside of them they have found the strength, courage, bravery to call it a day. Not only for the sake of their children but for the sake of their own wellbeing.
Or perhaps some single parents didn’t even have a choice but a series of circumstances led them to being a solo parent but through riding the storm and eventually coming out the other end they come out stronger and more equip to be the parent they need to be for their child.
My children are NOT growing up in a broken home.
For I am not broken. I am working daily to be a whole person. To model to my children ‘self love’, ‘self-care’ and how happiness is an inside job. Because what they model from me will lay the foundations for their own relationships.
Through the separation from their Dad, I can return to a place of love by connecting back in with myself.
“It takes great courage to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and admit your shortcomings and then do everything within your might to grow and change”
And of course my daughters are fortunate as they are blessed with an amazing Dad who is also committed to doing the healing work to be the Dad his girls need him to be and for that I am grateful.
So thank you J for your message which dropped into my inbox. Your words stuck with me more than you realise 💫