Single Parents: Building a Support Network

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Single mom without family - adopt a grandma?

Nov 2003

I am a single older mother with a 3-year old daughter. I have no family and would like to find out whether it is possible to adopt a grandmother, grandfather, cousines, aunts, uncles, etc.. Any suggestions? A

I don't know if you have any religious inclinations, but I always felt that the (very liberal) Protestant Church I attended growing up was a wonderful ''extended family''. In fact, our church even had smaller groups within the Church called ''family groups'' that met regularly, although I don't know of any churches in the area that have that particular set up.

Another possibility might be to get involved with a seniors group, either by volunteering for an organization that works with seniors, or maybe by contacting a retirement home or community. That way, you could get to know a number of people and see who you connect with, and who might be open to a deeper relationship with you and your daughter. I'm sure there are seniors in the community who may have no grandchildren (or they're living elsewhere) and would love to be involved with your family. Good luck. Lisa

Move to city ex lives so we can share parenting?

Feb 2003

I'm a single parent of a 4 year old boy and I need some advice! I moved back to the Bay Area about 16 months ago after my husband and I split up because my family lives here and I felt I needed there support. My ex moved to San Diego and my son sees him about once every 4 to 6 weeks for a few days at a time (definitely not enough time). I'll be leaving my job at the end of March and I don't know what to do. I am sick and tired of being a single, full-time working-outside-the-home, parent! I know others do this successfully but I just feel overwhelmed and frantic all of the time. My question is, do I move to the San Diego area so that I can share custody with my ex (we are in agreement on this) so that I can perhaps have some kind of decent, less stressed filled life (and of course the very added benefit that my son will spend time with his dad on a regular basis), or do I stay in the Bay Area so that I can remain close to my family (who help out when they can, though neither of my parents are very interested in being grandparents and my siblings have there own lives)? If I move to SD I could go back to school, then hopefully get a more fulfilling career, but I won't know anyone (and I find it's rather difficult making friends), but if I stay here I'll be stuck in the same relentless rat race that I'm in now. My poor little boy has to bear the brunt of my discontent and the thought of how this is affecting him makes me want to cry!

At the moment, I never have time alone and all I seem to do is run frantically between work, preschool, grocery store, dr's office, etc, etc, etc. I don't have time to exercise, read a book, stare off into space, do anything remotely creative, or just have fun doing goofy stuff with my son. I know this sounds like one big self-indulged pity party but I truly need some advice. What would you do? Just another stressed out mom!

I think you should go on and move to San Diego. Your ex is the best support that you have right now for your child. No one else will be there for your child like he will. You already have school as an option for yourself there too. It won't be long before you develop your own support network. You can come up here for visits a few times a year for family help. Have you considered childcre swapping with other single parents? Take care of yourself. anon
You don't really mention what your relationship with your ex is like, other than to say that you're in agreement about shared custody. If the two of you get along decently now that you're apart, and he's willing to help, it sounds like it might be better to be there with him around for your son, than here with people whom you describe as ''not all that interested'' and ''having their own lives.''

I think I'd sit down and make lists: for example, how much help (in terms of time) you have here, how much you'd have there (talk to your ex if you can). How much money you have here (what you earn, what you spend), and what it would be like there. Who your friends are here, and how often you get to see them, versus who you'd know there (doesn't sound like there is anyone, other than your ex). Be as realisitic as you can (of course it's impossible to know completely, but you can probably have a pretty good estimate). Then decide what looks best for you. Good luck. Karen

I absolutely hear what you are saying. I am a single mom of a now 7 year old boy and even though I do not feel overwhelmed as much anymore, it is still very challenging at times. My advise to you is this. If your ex-husband is a good father to your son, and you and him can work things out amicably, MOVE. It will not only make your life easier, as you already mention, but the main thing is that it will be much better for your son. My son's father lives 200 miles away, and even though he sees him every other weekend and during school vacations, it is never enough. I am confronted on a daily basis with the sadness of my son missing the ''daily'' interaction with his father. The only thing from keeping me here in the Bay Area is that I have a very fulfilling career, which allows me to provide adequately for my son and be a very happy mother at the same time. There are no career opportunities for me in the area where my son's father lives (not even a job that would pay enough for me to support my son), otherwise I would seriously re-consider. Ties with family are important, but your son's father is his family as well, and ultimately, when your son is happy, you will be happy too. another single mom
My husband and I have been living in the Bay Area for our whole relationship (8 1/2 years) and are DYING to leave. We have zero family and only a few acquantances here. This is the situation for a tremendously outgoing and friendly man like my husband is! We feel that most of the people here are so much into themselves and the rat race, as you mentioned. All of our parents (both sets divorced) have been begging us to move closer to one of them but we've resisted until now, hoping that we'd someday make a real home for ourselves here (and also so as not to offend the parents we didn't choose to be close to). Since our daughter was born in July 2000, and my husband's decline in health, it has become down right depressing to be here ALONE. I am married and my husband is a wonderful father, but I too NEVER get any time alone (I even take my daughter to my part-time job) and our marriage NEVER gets any adult sustenance due to the constant presence of our daughter. So we've decided to move close to my father and step-mother this coming June, with the promise of family support with the difficulties that come with my husband's health, as well as having good grandparents who really want to be a part of their granddaugher's life, and even babysit!

The reason I'm telling you all this is because I want you to know that I understand completely how you're feeling about your lack of support and time to be you, separate from your son. It doesn't mean you're selfish, it just means that you were a person before you had a baby and you still are! I love my daughter more than I can put into words, but I really could use a break from her company from time to time. Sooooo, even though you moved here because you thought being close to your family would help with being a single parent, it hasn't, right? If you and your ex get along well and agree that you could come up with a joint custody arrangement, it really may be in your and your son's best interest to move. If you're not getting the support or help you need from your parents or siblings, and your son's father wants to be able to be a hands- on dad, then I think that would be wonderful.

I too have a hard time making new friends, but having a child is an excellent ice breaker. You can join a mother's group, gym, church or chat with and get to know the other parents where your son goes to school. Being new in town should bring some offers of a few casseroles and shown around town.

Incidentally, we honeymooned in San Diego and I thought it was someplace I could live. I bet it would feel much less like a rat race and the people would be warmer than we've experienced here. Good luck! Jennifer

You're here bcs your family is here, but it doesn't sound like they are making your life a whole lot better. It also doesn't sound like you have a whole lot to lose by giving San Diego a try, and it also sounds like you'd be happier if your son was able to see his dad more often. See if your spouse will agree to a trial one year relocation and not contest it if you decide to move back here. anon
I am in a similar situation. I lived in Oakland and my ex lives in Castro Valley. Well I moved to Sacramento and my kids see their father every other weekend. So I do get some me time. The traveling is hard and I don't have any family out there but I'm not as far as you are from San Diego. But I keep one thing in mind when living my life and that is that I do for me and I do right by my children. Everything you do for yourself is not going to benefit everyone. But your child will benefit in the end. As a single parent, I know it gets overwhelming sometimes. Been there, done that....
You seem to have already answered your own question: You could either move to San Diego and ''share custody with my ex (we are in agreement on this) so that I can perhaps have some kind of decent, less stressed filled life (and of course the very added benefit that my son will spend time with his dad on a regular basis)''...or you could ''move to SD (where)I could go back to school, then hopefully get a more fulfilling career...(whereas) if I stay here I'll be stuck in the same relentless rat race that I'm in now.''

You may be lonely in San Diego, at first, but it sounds like the pros outweigh the cons. Also, you and your son could visit your family in the Bay Area (where your parents don't have much interest in being grandparents and your siblings are busy) rather than having your son ''visit'' his dad in San Diego every few weeks. Good luck