Many years ago, when I separated from my ex, I went through various emotions:
- Fear before leaving
- Liberation when I first left
- Isolation when the dust settled
I would have done anything to stumble across some single parent support groups.
Until a couple of years ago, I felt like I was walking through an empty desert where no one understood me. Most people within my circle were either dating, single without kids, or married with kids. This made things particularly hard during my ‘isolation days'.
Don’t get me wrong, my life was (and still is) great, but I had days where I desperately craved support from people who were in a similar situation to me, that understood me and reminded me that I wasn’t alone. Basically, I needed friends.
I spent lots of time searching for a support group that worked for me. I needed a happy place where I felt supported and uplifted. And I didn't want to dwell on the negative parts of single motherhood and hear about other people's arguments with their exes.
But I couldn't find anything.
In the end, I created my own group: The Single Mum Vine.
It felt crazy to have created a group just because I needed it. But, it turned out I wasn't alone in my desire for a positive single mum space. The group grew fast!
For myself and many other single mums, there was a sense of relief and comfort in knowing we could connect with like-minded women who understood each other, allowing us to provide support and wisdom to one another. And, of course, we could have a bit of a laugh along the way.
Being part of the group changed my life for the better. It gave meaning and comradery to my single mum life.
I wanted to know if other members felt the same so I surveyed single mothers in the group from multiple social, economic, relational, and career backgrounds. I wanted to see what they looked for in a single mother space and how their experiences as single parents had changed since joining the Facebook group.
Based on responses, personal experiences, and research from the resources, here are some excellent reasons to consider joining a single parent resource group.
You can actually find and make new friends
Single mother support groups are great for socialising and finding people who understand your journey. After all, they've actually been there and done that.
There's a lot of common ground. No one else can understand why you allow your kids screentime and/or junk food. Or why you need that much coffee. Or why you have a love-hate relationship with the idea of sending your kids to their dad over the weekend.
It simply feels good to be around people who you know will support you.
Get great advice from single parent support groups
I believe experience and wisdom have terrific weight and value.
As a single parent, I appreciate connecting with other single parents who have gone through similar experiences. Because let’s face it, some weeks the money is tight, the alone time is rare, the kids are being pains in the backside and it feels like everything is stacking up at a rapid rate.
There is no doubt about it: No-one can provide better advice than those who have been there and done that.
Only another single mum can really understand how the buck stops with us. This means the advice they offer will be bang on topic and genuinely helpful.
You can share your fails and know other mums have done worse!
It's impossible to become a perfect parent, especially with your struggles as a single mum. So many real-life stories show you that making mistakes is normal.
But don't you simply feel at peace knowing you're not the worst mum out there?
Parents - single or not - are humans and are allowed to screw up.
Single mother support groups are proof that there are sillier, funnier, and downright worse mum-ents than you've ever had. At least you didn't put beer into your kids' pancakes!
They are safe spaces where you can share
Life happens, situations happen, and there are usually tough times along the way.
There are moments when single parents experience complex family, personal and/or financial issues. It can be daunting and distressing to air such matters to someone who doesn’t understand the situation.
Depending on the nature of the support group, individuals going through these situations can seek essential advice anonymously and get referrals to necessary support from others who have gone through similar experiences.
Single parent support groups can provide a stepping stone to get support, when you might be to scared to ask elsewhere.
Single mother support groups are non-judgemental
Through the survey, many single mothers felt more confident in their parenting ability after joining a support group.
It’s pretty empowering to see the change in someone when others are willing to reach out and provide praise and support where needed.
Single parents appreciate being told they are doing okay and providing the best they can for their children. They have faced enough judgment and issues, so the last thing they need is to be made to believe that their status has negative connotations.
Thankfully, as more support groups develop, the amount of positive support for single parents is rising.
Discover resources for your single mum journey
Let's face it, the internet is overrun with resources for, well, pretty much anything you need. You can even find a course to teach you laugh more!
The problem being: How do we know what works? And, more specifically, how do we know what works for single parents?
Single parent support groups are filled with everything you need to navigate single parenthood. Think:
- Cleaning tips
- Make-ahead recipes
- Ideas for science projects
- Part-time earning opportunities
- What dating apps to avoid like the plague
The best thing about these groups is that mums (and dads) are very willing to share what they know to make others' lives easier.
No need to experiment and waste time with resources that don't deliver because there are already tried and proven strategies available.
Feel less lonely amongst like-minded single parents
It wasn’t surprising the number of single mothers admitted to feeling isolated before joining a single parent support group. Nearly every single mother surveyed selected this option.
Equally as unsurprising was that they felt less isolated once having joined the group.
Interestingly, the unanimous opinion was that you had to participate in the group to feel as if you belonged. Simply scrolling and not joining in can make you feel on the outta and therefore even more disconnected.
The message here is simple: Get chatting. Post, comment and participate whenever you can.
You will cope better if you are part of a single mum support group
Single parenting can be a demanding and stressful experience, and it’s not always easy to know how to manage the challenges that come with it.
Joining a single parent support group can provide a valuable opportunity to learn from the experiences of others facing similar challenges. This, in turn, will help you develop better coping skills and provide practical strategies for managing the challenges of single parenthood.
In a support group, you may be able to share your own experiences and hear from others who have faced similar situations. This can help you gain new insights and perspectives on how to approach the challenges you are facing.
You can celebrate milestones with people who understand the importance of them
We already know that people love to help more than we give them credit for. Another plus point for humanity is that we actually love to cheer on others.
Single mother support groups have people who experienced and survived the struggles and challenges you're facing. From successfully cutting your kids' bangs yourself to finally moving on from bitterness to getting even the slightest raise, you will find people who will be happy for you.
Without a doubt, the most popular posts on my group are the ones with a single mum and her kids standing next to the 'Sold' sign of the new home they have bought. We love to see a single mother sister finally get her forever home, and trip over one another to comment and congratulate!
Yes, these groups are the place to find many cheerleaders and advocates - you need that on this journey.
Being in a group can lower stress levels
Research has shown that social support can be an effective way to reduce stress levels.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that:
"Social support can buffer the adverse effects of stress and improve mental health outcomes. This means having a supportive network of people around you can help you manage stress better and reduce its negative impact on your overall well-being."
When you join a single parent support group, you are surrounded by people who understand what you are going through and can provide empathy, validation, and encouragement. This, in turn, will lower your stress levels and make you feel calmer in your everyday life.
Have a good laugh on single parent support groups
We all know children are funny. If and whenever you need a good chuckle, you're guaranteed to find funny stories in parenting circles, including single mother support groups.
And it's not just the kids! Us mums are just as capable of sharing hilarious mishaps and moments to contribute to the literature of hilarious parenting fails.
Not a day passes when I don't have a funny meme I can totally relate to pop up on my feed. That small smile and inward chuckle is enough to lighten my mood. I then love to share it with a few chosen friends to brighten their day.
Have a laugh and pass it on.
You will experience unexpected acts of kindness
Being a single parent can be very isolating. But it's heartwarming to know some people will go out of their way to help, offer support, and give helpful advice.
Sometimes, it's hard for us to seek help - fearing others discovering our struggles and imperfections. Or we feel we're inconveniencing others. But a Stanford research found that people love to help more than we think.
On the Single Mum Vine FB group we see extraordinary acts of kindness every week. From mums giving away clothes, toys and furniture. Often a mum will have spare show or concert ticket and invite another mum. And then there's the general support and encouragement - our members will take hours out of their busy days to help and uplift other mums.
If you open up and ask, many people will step up to happily assist you. It's very wholesome and shows a lot of hope for humanity.
Summary: Why single mum support groups will enlighten your life
Being a single mum is incredibly hard. In this culture of individualism and social isolation, surrounding yourself with like-minded people who share your experiences can be the key to making the challenges more bearable.
You don't abandon your friends who are unmarried, child-free, and happily married, of course. But also, participating in a single parent support group has heaps of benefits.
The Single Mum Vine and similar single mother support groups are great places to find support, help, and resources you need.
You will get to socialise with people who won't judge you for your parenting fails … especially because others have failed worse than you! These people will celebrate your and your children's tiniest milestones and be amused at your parenting stories. They help you cope with significant life changes, making you less lonely and reducing stress.
If you're already a pro in single parenthood, don't snub the good ol' support group. Here, you can share and help the new and struggling mums to make their journeys more bearable. That's another reason why I felt I needed to create The Single Mum Vine: We need to help the young single mums who can learn from our experiences.
As Thomas Merton said:
"We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another."