Single parents often don’t realize how closely their kids are watching and learning from their positive examples.
Below, six writers share the most valuable lessons they learned from being raised by single parents.
1. I learned to do it all, but not necessarily at the same time.
“Though my dad has always been very much a part of my life, my mom had sole custody of me since they divorced when I was three years old. I’m an only child, so it was basically just me and my mom on our own throughout my childhood, which means my mom is my best friend — and my biggest role model. My very own Superwoman, my mom was able to raise an elementary-aged kid on her own while writing her dissertation and getting her Ph.D. She killed all the spiders, did all the housework and was still the best mom I could have ever imagined. She taught me that it’s possible to do it all, but that it’s also OK to do it all at different times. I’ve learned so much from her and she’s left huge shoes for me to fill when I become a mother someday. She taught me so much about independence, feminism and motherhood that I feel equipped to one day raise children that (hopefully) admire me in the way I admire her.” — Nile Cappello
2. I learned to be fearless and resilient.
“While raising the four of us, my single mother started her first business. We all learned how to be financially independent from her example. With pasted smiles, we distributed flyers under the sun, worked as backup staff members, dried her tears when business was slow and begged for celebratory ice cream when it flourished. I idolized my mom and learned how to become an entrepreneur through her. Watching her, I learned acceptance, multitasking skills, independence, how to forgive my absent parent and the complex realities of a relationship. I matured and learned responsibility at a young age. Growing up with a single parent made me the fearless, resilient woman I am today.” — Phoebe J. Mikneah
3. I learned that there’s no use in complaining.
“My dad died when I was four years old and that left my mom in a real situation. She was left with three teenagers, a toddler and a mortgage payment she couldn’t afford. What struck me most about our story was that she never griped or grumbled — at least not to me or my siblings. What did she do? She took the bull by the horns, got to work and made things happen for her family. She sold our house and moved us into something affordable, got her real estate license and became quite successful. She was flipping houses long before it became a popular genre on TV! I learned that no matter what comes your way, there is no use in complaining. Instead, when tough circumstances arrive, you figure out a way to conquer the circumstances.” — Chris Widener
4. I learned that gender doesn’t dictate your parental role.
“I grew up with a single dad. All throughout my childhood, he taught me that gender roles are a myth. He was strong for me when I wanted guidance and sensitive when I needed a shoulder to cry on. He did all the cooking and cleaning in our home while also supporting us through his work. Growing up, I came to understand that men and women have equal capacities for nurturing and sensitivity as they do for strength and leadership. My dad and I often talk about how his experience raising me helped him to learn and grow himself, so I guess we both learned a lot from the experience. Sometimes we joke about how he’s both my mom and my dad wrapped up in one parent. I am grateful he raised me to have confidence in who I am not only as a woman, but also as a person.” — Kate Fisher
5. I learned to love the imperfections.
“Growing up with a single mom, I learned to adapt to imperfections. Actually, I learned to love them. The only male in our home was a sock-stealing dog and instead of correcting his antics, we were amused. When the faucet in the bathroom broke, we used a pair of pliers to turn on the cold water. Hey, it was a cheap solution that worked just fine. And some of my favorite memories involve me, my mom and my sister standing in the kitchen, eating cold spaghetti with our fingers. Who needs an exquisitely set table and utensils? Perhaps we lived a bit like savages, but we knew what was most important. The end of my parents’ marriage meant we gave up the vision of what a family is supposed to look like. We embraced our own uniqueness.” — Tara Eisenhard
6. I learned that hard work pays off.
“I observed my mother survive as a single parent largely because she was motivated to make a better life for her children. I inherited determination from my mother and this helped me to be a successful professional and to weather the storms of life. Being raised by a single parent can give children an appreciation for the sacredness of love and commitment and a perspective that hard work and determination pay off.” — Terry Gaspard
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