Monday, October 29, 2007

An Open Letter to Single Parents

Well, this is really not about single parents in real life, because I don't know many, and I can't say I've ever encountered the policy in real life. But it is everywhere in fiction. It abounds in category romances, and I just watched the episode of Gilmore Girls where Luke lets Lorelai throw April's birthday party.

The policy to which I'm referring is only applied to romantic relationships for some reason. Single moms don't want their kids to get to know the guys they date at all, or to know the women their kids' fathers date, because OMG the relationship might not last and the kid would be attached and they'd be devastated beyond recovery if they left.

So better not let your kid make friends. They might move away, or more likely, decide they'd rather be closer friends with someone else, and devastate your kid.

Don't let them go to school. It's sooooo easy to get attached to a good teacher and then wham, nine months later, they're out of their life. They'll never get over that, after seeing them day after day, more total time than they see their own family.

Definitely don't let them play sports. Attachments to coaches and teammates can be strong. And can you imagine, the trauma of a combined losing season and having to say goodbye?

Most of all, never, ever, EVER get a pet. Cats might be okay, if you get them young, because they can live 20 years. Unless, you know, they don't. They could get sick. So yeah, forget the cats. Big dogs only live to mid-teens, small dogs a little longer. "Starter" pets like hamsters have very short life spans. Stay away from those.

The point is, kids are resilient. My mother was a single parent from the time I was seven and my brother was four. She dated, and we met most of the guys, because it was important that if there was going to be a relationship there, everything fit. That we liked them and they liked us. All of them left our lives, and it didn't hurt us. It taught us.

The way to raise mature, well-adjusted adults who can handle change is to give kids reasons to adjust, changes to which they can adapt. Life has pain. We all need to endure it, and the only way to learn how is by doing it.

The flip side is that you may deny them, and yourself, something wonderful. And that's an even bigger loss.

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