The other day, I saw something on Facebook that prompted me to write today’s blog. Another homeschooling parent posted that the government in her local area had passed a bill for 3-year-olds to go to all day preschool. She’d seen an interview on the news with two mothers who planned to utilize it, and the mother posting was disgusted that one said she didn’t have time to teach her child how to write her name, and the other was happy because it meant she could work more hours and therefore pay more bills. She ended her post with a question: Why have children?
As single mothers, I think we’ve all felt the brunt of someone’s judgment at one time or another. Whether it’s someone asking us why we had children because we’re single parents, or criticizing us for ending our marriage with our children’s father, or commenting on our decision to homeschool, we’ve all heard it at one time or another. This particular mother later claimed, when other parents suggested that she shouldn’t judge until she’s been in a single parent’s shoes, that she was once a single mother herself. I have no idea if her claim was true or not, and I’m not sharing this to debate that fact.
I am sharing this because I think it’s important that we all remember one thing: we’re all doing what we believe is best for our children. Whether we choose to homeschool or send our kids to public school, whether we work from home or work 40+ hours a week outside the home, whether we accept alimony from the ex or wish he’d pay his child support on time, all of our choices are made with our children’s best interests at heart.
If you’re not a single parent, and you came across this blog and have often wondered why a single parent would choose to have children, allow me to enlighten you a bit.
Most of us didn’t plan to be single parents. Most of us had our children when we felt secure in a relationship or a marriage and it later ended up not working out. Most of us didn’t know that we’d ultimately end up as single parents.
For those of us who did choose to become a single parent, whether through adoption or other means, that choice was made because we wanted a child more than we wanted to wait for a relationship that may never come. You don’t have to agree with that choice, but you should respect it. You found what you wanted (a marriage and then children), and that’s great for you. Others have to find what they want, and that needs to be great for them.
If you’ve never been in the shoes of a single parent, please don’t judge us. Until you’ve been in our position, you have no idea what it’s like to be the only one making decisions for your kids, nor do you know what it’s like to always be both the bad guy and the good guy. You don’t know how hard it is to not criticize your children’s other parent, no matter how much he or she might deserve it. You don’t understand the struggle of trying to make sure all the bills are paid, and knowing that if your ex would just pay his child support, that struggle wouldn’t be as bad – or wouldn’t exist at all. And for those who might say, “Hey, even us married parents worry about money sometimes!”, yes, you do. But you’re a couple. You can talk to each other, bounce ideas off each other, and you know that you’re both trying as hard as you can. It’s a far different situation than being in this alone, and doing the math, and realizing that the child support payment you didn’t get is exactly what you need to cover the bill that’s going unpaid, or the glasses your child needs, or the medication the insurance is refusing to cover.
If you’ve been a single parent and you’re married now, then you of all people shouldn’t be judging any single parent. You know how hard it is, you know the difficulties involved, and you know how it can happen to you when you least expect it.
Even without being single parents, just by being homeschoolers, we set ourselves apart. We get enough judgment from parents who don’t homeschool, from teachers, neighbors, and politicians. We don’t need to do it to ourselves. Nor should we judge another parent for making a decision that we wouldn’t. We know precisely how it feels, and for that reason if no other, we should refrain from judgment. Even if you can’t stop yourself from judging, you do have control over allowing that judgment to pass your lips.
Remember the saying: opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. It doesn’t mean you have to share it with everyone, or even a single other person.