Book Review: Raising Great Kids on Your Own

by Cate on October 23, 2012

Raising Great Kids on Your OwnThis past weekend, The Ex and I had a miscommunication about where we were meeting on Saturday. Even though I had confirmed it the night before. The end result was no big deal really. It just resulted in a harried 20 minutes and Madeline being a bit late for her soccer game.

Life goes on.

As I picked her up from Nick’s field to race over to hers, The Ex cocked his head to one side and said, “You know, sometimes I wonder about you.”

He was kidding, as evidenced by the smile on his face and the chuckle that followed. And knowing that, I didn’t respond other than a giant eye roll, masked by my favorite aviator sunglasses.

But inside? I bristled.

I juggle a lot. Two kids, two different schools, two sports teams, Cub Scouts, work. And then everything else. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, freelancing. Parent-teacher conferences, volunteering, permissions slips, homework. Orthodontist appointments. Annual check-ups. By myself. Some days I worry about what I may have forgotten. Other days, the kitchen might be an absolute disaster, but everyone is fed and bathed, and the day ends on a high note because of just that. Because that’s enough.

He meant no harm by the comment. I know this. He was kidding. But I don’t think he realizes how much goes on … on our side. The lion’s share of responsibility falls in my lap. He is able to get up, go to work, go home, eat, shower, sleep. Rinse, lather, repeat. Largely able to be responsible for himself and himself only. Except on the every-other-weekend that has the kids.

And that’s ok.

Because that’s the way it is.

But man, don’t wonder about me. Because I might forget something occasionally.

But I’ve got this.

In spades.

Raising happy, confident, kind kids that are self-sufficient, independent thinkers is my ultimate goal. And is that ever a lot of pressure. But it’s the most important thing entrusted to me. So I research. I read. I listen. I rely on instinct a lot. I make decisions based on gut. And what I think is right. And so far? So good.

I sometimes read parenting books. And sometimes single parenting books. Not necessarily because I’m seeking answers. But more so because more knowledge and more perspective is never a bad thing really.

I happened upon a book from David & Lisa Frisbie recently, Raising Great Kids on Your Own (A Guide and Companion for Every Single Parent), and just finished it.

I swear, by page 10, my notebook was out, I was scribbling in it, and seriously bristling.

The intro started by listing a handful of successful well-known names that were raised by single parents. Lauren Bacall. Ed Bradley. Alexander Haig. It was written with an element of surprise … surprise that someone could be successful AND be raised by a single parent. I suppose it makes it all that more noteworthy, because there might have been adversity to overcome, but it was presented as if their success was likely harder to achieve because they came from a single-parent household.

And that I have a problem with. My kids are from a single-parent household. But that doesn’t hold them back in any way, shape, or form. And I make sure of it. I don’t ever want our family structure to hold them back from anything. As a single parent, I have challenges for sure, but I figure out a way to do it so they don’t miss out. I am constantly pulled out of my (pretty big) comfort zone as a single parent, and I keep on engaging in sometimes difficult scenarios to make sure that our household statistic never hinders us from anything. And especially them.

Because it’s not their fault.

Their Dad doesn’t live with them. And that is perhaps the only thing they might perceive as different. Everything else is the same. They are not defined by the fact that their parents are divorced.

And I am not defined by being divorced.

Chapters from the book were equal parts depressing and unrealistic.

“Single parents have some of the worst eating habits…”

“Single parents are among the most under-rested adults…”

“Take a nap in the afternoon…”

“There may be ‘trigger events’ that detonate a high level of stress throughout a person’s immune system, slowing or reducing the body’s innate ability to ward off infection or serious illness. We may soon discover that the onset of abnormal cell growth (cancers fit within this broad category) is often preceded by highly stressful events or situations…”

All of the above quotes? Before page 58.

Way to pick people up, huh?

Look. Divorce sucks. Single parenting is hard. But there are countless ways to make it better. To make better choices. To surround yourself with love. To choose joy. There are bad days. Or bad moments. And good ones. Lots of them. Like millions. How about take-aways that show how to make a difficult situation better? How to parent with passion when you’re operating on little to no sleep?

It wasn’t *completely* negative, but the first half of the book had such a negative undertone, I had difficulty finishing it (although I did). I’m not always the “glass is half full” girl. But I am (or try to be) more often times than not. So I would respond much more favorably to a book that put more effort into showing you how to make the best of a sometimes challenging situation.

One thing I will agree with? The importance of having a strong network. And there was an emphasis on that in this book. Whether it be a faith-based network you find in your local church, or a group of co-workers that you bond with, or the local Moms club, it doesn’t matter if you’re a single parent or not, you’re halfway there with strong villagers in your corner.

What’s the latest book that you’ve read? Always looking for another good read to add to my (growing) nightstand stack.

Tomorrow? A new recipe!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joanne October 24, 2012 at 6:38 am

I have to say, I’m already irritated by this book. It sounds like it’s emphasizing mostly the kind of single mothers who have children out of wedlock…not single mothers with jobs and common sense. Plus I’ve never heard of being a single mother causing cancer. Ever.

For the record…you are an awesome mom. And I’m sure you were equally as awesome before the divorce. It’s just intrinsic to you.
Joanne recently posted..Recipe: Curried Red Lentil Burgers with Mango Slaw

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