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Monday, May 12, 2014

Motivational Mondays: How Can Single Moms Overcome The Mother's Day's Blues

Thought for the Day: All day I have been having problems with internet connectivity. It is very frustrating, but while I am connected I will write a brief motivational piece. As some of you know I have been answering questions on a new Single Mom's website, Single Mom's Playbook. As I prepared my posts for Mother's Day it came to my attention how difficult Mother's Day can be for single moms.

So much of what makes Mother's Day work is dependent on having a supportive husband who helps the children celebrate their mothers. When there is no father in the picture or even worse when there is an ex-husband who is unsupportive, Mother's Day can become a reminder of how unappreciated you may be. This may lead to the Mother's Day Blues. One of my clients who had a contentious divorce and is battling with her ex-husband was not even sure if she would be with her kids on Sunday despite the divorce agreement. In addition, when finances are tight, there may not be any leftover money to celebrate. Should single mothers just ignore the holiday? How can they help their kids learn the importance of appreciating all they do for their children? What do you think? Have you felt left out and unappreciated because there is no father to teach your kids? Is it important?

I think it is a subject that is often neglected, but needs to be addressed given the fact that over 50% of marriages end in divorce.

     Ironically, the main reason that it is important is not for you, but for your children. If you have sons, how they learn to respect and appreciate their mother will impact on how they respect and appreciate their wives. If you have a daughter, learning to be grateful to their mother will help them develop self respect and learn how to expect appreciation for all they will be called upon to do for their children. This may feel like yet another burden for a single mother, but it is well worth the effort.

     Children are by nature egocentric. In an infant's mind, they are at the center of the world. Their wishes magically appear. They cry and mother appears and relieves their hunger, changes their diaper holds them and makes their discomfort disappear. As they grow they need to learn that they are not the center of the universe. They need to learn to wait and delay gratification. It takes time before they truly appreciate all that their parents and others do for them.

     In reality, there should be mini-Mother's Days throughout the year. We teach our children to say please and thank you. We remind them over and over again, until we hope it becomes a habit. We pray they will remember to be polite and thank those who help them, even when we are not around to remind them.

     I would propose that, if you are a single parent dreading Mother's Day (or Father's Day, if you are a single dad, for that matter), that you give your children a wish list of things they can do to surprise you and thank you. The wish list should be made up of things that they can do even if they have no money. If they have an allowance, inexpensive things can be included on your list. It will be good for them to have a way to give back to you, as well. They can do these things throughout the year, not just on Mother's Day. For instance, Tuesday nights could be mini-Mother's Day nights. You can come up with your own list & adjust it for the ages of your children, but here are a few things you could put on your wish list:
                 1) Make a cup of coffee, tea or instant soup and serve it to her while she rests on the couch
                 2) Bake a cake, cookies or brownies or make popcorn for Mom
                 3) Write a poem or a story about what Mom does for you that you appreciate
                 4) Pick some wild flowers
                 5) Cook &/or serve breakfast, lunch or dinner
                 6) Straighten your room without being asked
                 7) Vacuum or dust the house, take out the garbage without being asked
                 8) Draw something special for Mom
                 9) Take care of a sibling for 20 minutes to let mom rest or sleep late on the weekend
               10) Make something for mom from old toys or craft kits
               11) Ask an aunt, uncle or grandparent to help you do something nice for your mother

     As you can see, there are many things that children can do to surprise their mother and show that they are grateful. Even if you have not instituted these kinds of activities for your children this year, you can start some mini-Mother's Days now and by next year Mother's Day may be a more pleasant holiday for you and your children. The last idea, asking for help from family or firends will also help your kids learn how to ask for help from others, which will help them later in life as well.

     If you have other ideas to share or have had a difficult time on Mother's Day and found ways to overcome the blues or resentment that can arise while everyone else is celebrating, I'd love to hear how you resolved it.

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