Thursday, March 18, 2010

Question From A Single Mom

My first question comes from a single mom we'll call Lisa. She has an 11 year old daughter and a limited income. She works full time and goes to school full time. Wow, what a schedule! Her problem is a typical one I've heard before. Dad is not involved, not emotionally, physically or financially supporting his daughter. Sounds like he has a drinking problem and is very inconsistent with work. She hasn't been getting child support for 4 months now, and is wondering what to do about it. So far there has been no legal arrangement made.

Lisa, I can tell you from experience, I've heard this story so many times. I've seen it work out a couple different ways. I've seen the mother pursue child support, and then battle the rest of her life with a man who is flaky, untrustworthy, and emotionally draining to work with. I've heard so many single mothers say "I wish I didn't have to deal with this, it is so stressful!". On the other hand, I've seen situations where the mother just let the father go, and didn't pursue financial support. Yes that put strain on her financially, but time and again I've heard women express that struggling to make ends meet is a different kind of stress than struggling with a father who's integrity and character are lacking.

Personally, when I came to the realization that the man who fathered my child (before I met and married Jon), was not interested at all in being there for me or my baby (financially, emotionally or physically), I cut the strings. At first it was scary. I had no idea how I would make ends meet, how I would support a child all by myself. But things always worked out, we always had enough. And 12 years down the road, I can't imagine how having someone like him in my life would have drained me and stressed me, (not to mention having to co-parent with a practical stranger, someone who's core values were obviously not mine).

Now, I don't know if your daughter has any relationship with him, I got the sense that there wasn't much of a bond there. I'm a firm believer that kids need healthy, balanced, loving people surrounding them. It sounds like you and your parents are more than sufficient in these areas. If it's money you're worried about, I say no need to worry. If you've read my story you know the ways that you and your child can have all your needs provided for and more! I also think if he is struggling to have a healthy life, it may be best to "cut the strings."

This is an important decision and I think deep down, we always know what is best for our kids. I know what worked for my life, and I have heard several women say it worked best for them too. But still, you have to weigh this decision carefully, and go with your best gut instinct.

Please keep us updated on how things turn out, my family and I will be praying for you during this time, that you'll be able to make the best decision possible.



  1. Thank you so much for answering my question! I love what you wrote. It is sad, my daughter and her father were close at one time and have been steadily growing apart for the past couple of years. His drinking has gotten progressively worse for the past couple of years. The child support thing is hard. Although as you pointed out,my daughter and I always have what we need. It is interesting that you write about cutting the strings. I think that is the best thing for me to do right now. I feel like when I focus on him and what he is not doing for my daughter that he continues his "bad" behavior. When I focus on my daughter and me, it is much better for my daughter and I. He actually starts to provide and work on himself, if that makes sense. I will definitely let you all know what happens and I thank you for your prayers!

  2. Thanks for your response! I'll never forget a Dr. Phil episode I watched where he advised a mother to tell her child the truth about her absent dad. If you don't let your children know that dad is "making some bad choices right now and needs our prayers", that child will almost always blame themselves for the disconnect. You don't have to go into the ugly details, you can share what is age appropriate and be general with the information. But it is very important for our kids to be reassured that it is not their fault, and that there is hope for mom or dad to change for the better. Best case scenario here is he gets sober, gets his life back on track, and gets re-connected with his daughter. Thanks again, this is such an important topic!

  3. I like this. I am not a single mom but I feel this is wisdom!