Empowered: The Single Mother, Only Child Household

By: Janet K. Nelson

My son is the most precious experience of my life. He is a treasure…my treasure, but never really a possession…just my responsibility as he was entrusted to me when I became his Mother.  Elliot is hope, joy and love. He is one of my best friends.

I could end this little essay right now, having said all that is really important. However, the experience from which these sweeping truths were derived may be a resource for analysis, comfort, empathy and hope in providing a little inspiration to other single mothers of only children and the communities that support them or ignore them. We are a significant population and have some unique advantages in the parent-child relationship. 

Let me make something very clear. This article is not intended to be a solicitation for a needy demographic. Rather, it is a celebration of success and the pain and joy that makes any success in life possible.

The single mother of one should not try to control her child. This parental convenience is not a practical option and has no value for the child.  The single mother of one child has no choice but to empower the child. This is a necessity. In the long run, you are both better off. Teach and don’t criticize. Just answer questions objectively.  This way your child will tell you what he/she needs to know in order to develop a skill. The child will develop the skill faster, efficiently and without emotional trauma.

You are both empowered. There is no need for control.

We became a single parent family when Elliot was three years old. It became impossible for me to do everything I wanted to do for my child. I hated the world for allowing this situation to exist. I had no choice but to teach Elliot how to do those things I could no longer do for him. 

There were many times I could not be present or could not afford the time to do things for him.  Instead, I taught him during the time we had together. We played learning games, like Suzuki violin lessons. Elliot and I had fun. I was his mentor, not his dictator.

Elliot learned to make choices. He was soon able to recognize when I was unable to help him and he took care of his own needs. He also recognized when I needed his help. His skills were critical for both of us and I let him know how much I appreciated them. We empowered each other when there were no other resources.

There was no lack of self-esteem. We knew what we could do and that we could do whatever we had to do. It was also evident we did not have to be dependent/victims of the lack of character of other people who maybe never did deserve to have us a part of their world.  Actually, we are now most grateful to those people for giving us the opportunity to experience what real love and real responsibility are all about.  After all, my son and I have each other because of each other. 

My son is one of my best friends. I am proud to call him my friend. He is very accomplished and capable. We both graduated this year: Elliot from high school and I completed my MBA. Elliot helped me with math. I helped him with writing. We are both musicians. Elliot graduated concertmaster of his high school orchestra…the flagship magnet school of the city of Chicago. Forgive me for bragging. We are very skilled at empowering each other. I doubt this will ever change.

Elliot is studying architecture at one of the finest research institutes in the country, right here in the great city of Chicago.  His guitar and violin are his favorite hobbies. 

Elliot lives on campus. Even though he is not far away, watching him walk out the door was hard…not because I am worried, but because I miss him so much. However, the time has come and he is so ready. This seems a very harsh reward for success. It is a smile through tears…a happy hurt, like when I gave birth to him.  I am so lucky to be his Mom.

Gifts for single Moms:

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