Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Have you spent time as a single parent?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42474points) August 9th, 2016

Did you have any help from friends or family or the father of you kids, or the government, either financially or otherwise?
After 1993, when my ex moved 2000 miles away, for reasons I still don’t understand probably running from child support demands, among other things, I had no help from anyone other than a little government help. I received a boat load of food stamps and the kids had state insurance. Other than that, I paid all of my own rent, all of my own bills, all of my own everything, and even managed to keep my credit score very high. Things didn’t start easing up until I went to work for a wireless company in 1998.

Did you have any specialized skills or training? I had / have a degree in education.

How was the money situation?
Tight! Bad tight!

What was the most challenging aspect of it?
Bad, tight money! And trying to mitigate the damage my ex inflicted on the children by abandoning them.

So, share your story and add any details you want.

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32 Answers

LornaLove's avatar

I went through a tough time in the early 80s. I had my child and no financial support whatsoever. I think he was 2 at the time and I was recently divorced and very young. Their was no welfare support, including food or anything in the country I was living in. I learned to stretch a potato, I learned how to make excellent soup that was cheap and nutritious.

I learned to play with my kid instead of rely on TV or cartoons and I also walked a lot since I had no car. I worked all day, from early (7 am till around 6 pm).

I had no formal skills at that point. I worked as a secretary to a financial director in a large pharmaceutical company and he was a complete turd.

The bulk of my money I earned went on rent, electricity and my sons creche. So there was little left over for luxuries like a food budget or clothes soap etc.,

His father at that point had abandoned him and had gone to live in another country.

The hard part was making sure we had toilet paper, soap and washing powder, food to eat, the rest was tough but manageable. The other hard part was that my son was severely ADHD and I could not get advice or help on how to manage him. I think he also felt abandoned not only by his dad but by me too, since I worked all day. I’ve had tough times all my life periodically, I’d say this goes down as one of the toughest!

Oh and no there was no financial or other support from friends and family.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Who watched your son while you worked? How did you eventually pull out of it?

When I was newly poor I had never heard of government assistance. Had never heard of food stamps. I remember spending the last of my money on 3 large potatoes to split between me and the kids (we ate a lot of beans, rice, potatoes and corn flakes!) When I cut them open they were all rotted out inside.
I tried never to cry in front of my kids, but I just dropped into a chair and sobbed.

kritiper's avatar

Sorta. I had a dog.

Coloma's avatar

My ex and I split in 2003 when my daughter was 15.
She lived with me for a year and we did alright, but it was tough, working and handling things at home alone. I did get some alimony and child support but not a lot. I am grateful she was a teenager and not still a young child, that would have been really difficult I imagine. She moved in with her dad in her Jr. yr. of high school and then I paid child support for the next 2 years.

She wanted to be closer to her school and town and, also, her dad was bribing her with a carefree exisitence unlike rule enforcing mommy. It was hard letting her go but we survived all the drama of those few years. Of course, her dads luster was not so lustrous after awhile and now, 14 years later, she knows his and has seen his true colors and I am back in the primary parent zone. haha

LornaLove's avatar

@Dutchess_III Creche is where my son went whilst I was at work. If I was 5 minutes late, I was charged extra and for each 5 minutes thereafter. The creche took a huge part of my salary.

I eventually studied and also got into sales. I suppose this is where my career took off and I earned good money, but that was much further down the line.

I know about bad potatoes. Poverty can be heart breaking.

Coloma's avatar

I remember feeding the dog a bowl of shredded wheat and milk once, when I was flat broke and had no dog food money.

kritiper's avatar

@Coloma Did the dog eat it and how hungry was the dog when you fed it the shredded wheat and milk? If I recall correctly, I had to do stuff like that a couple of times. Harsh realm!

Coloma's avatar

@kritiper Yes, harsh reality. The dog wolfed down her bowl of cereal. It was adequate but not ideal. I have always cared for my pets very well and that was a very sad moment. :-(

kritiper's avatar

@Coloma I can feel it!

jca's avatar

Single parent here since my daughter was a tiny infant. Her father is deceased. Fortunately, I have a good job and money is not tight. My parents pick my daughter up once a week and watch her for a night or two and that’s great. I also pay over 400 a month for after school care till 6:30.

When she was in preschool, preschool and babysitting was over 1000 per month. Now, to pay over 400 a month is relatively cheap.

I am lucky and need to remind myself how lucky I am to have a good job that pays fairly well. I’m far from rich but we can afford vacations and little perks like that.

canidmajor's avatar

I have spent time as a single parent, but I was fortunate to be financially secure, so most of your details don’t apply to me. I did get a bit tired of people (mostly strangers) being angry with me for not suffering.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! They get angry with you for not suffering @canidmajor? Damn it woman! What’s wrong with you? Why ain’t you suffering?? (Could you provide some examples? That sounds interesting.)

Yes, that day care is a ball buster, isn’t it. I had my own for about 3 years, while I was finishing up my degree, to support the kids because I knew what child support he was paying…$1000 at the time, based on his income…wasn’t going to last long, so I knew I had to have a back up plan. I ran the daycare so I wouldn’t have to put my own kids in daycare. Most of my parents were single mothers and I kept my rates quite low for that reason. In fact, I got a couple of calls from other irate day care providers bitching at me for that, saying I was “undercutting” them. That was stupid. It’s not like you can take in an unlimited amount of children. It’s not like I could corner the market.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I had to feed my cat rice once.

canidmajor's avatar

I got a lot of comments like “Oh, it doesn’t really count as single-parenting if you can afford it.” Silly me, I had thought that “single parent” indicated a lack of a second parent.
Live and learn.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh brother! There are dumb people out there. I remember going to the grocery store, right after work, well dressed, heels, hair nicely done and using food stamps. We didn’t have EBT cards then. You had to use these big old books of stamps that were a little bigger than actual bills. I’d get dirty looks. People were sure I was scamming the system. Everyone knows poor people are dirty, stupid, too lazy to work, and have no clothes.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Horrible! I’ll tell you, going through some of my hard times has really opened my eyes to the stereotypes of the poor too.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah. It was a tough time but it made me a better person, more compassionate. I was far from poor growing up, and had every expectation that my financial comfort would continue for the rest of my life. If it had, I may have been clueless and judgemental.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yep, I hear ya, I am struggling with reconciling who I am opposed to my outer circumstances these days too. It’s a mind fuck for sure but dies deepen ones compassion.
The happy golden years are now the tarnished years. lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

I struggle with reconciling where I am with where I expected to be by now, even after the divorce and everything. So frustrating and so disappointing. But it wasn’t from laziness or lack of trying.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Exactly. I thought I’d still be married too and be retired now with a pony for the grand kids and plenty of cash for travel and leisure. hah! lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hell, I just wanted to build a damn retirement fund! Ferget the pony! Well, maybe a pony.

I sometimes compare myself with my sister, who went to work for Boeing in the 80’s, after she got her Computer Programming degree. She’ll be grandfathered into their pension fund. She’s set. I sometimes wish I had done the same….but….then again…..my kids and grandkids wouldn’t be who they are today. And she had to sacrifice a lot of family time for business trips and overtime.
IDK.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yeah, I wouldn’t trade my daughters younger years for some big ass career either, but still, our generation was really programmed for the American dream which is, for most, a fantasy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was thinking about that today! How good our parents had it. Man, the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were just booming, economically. Just booming. You got a job and you could count on retiring from that job in 30, 40 years. Maybe some places that’s still true but Lord…I went to work for Rubbermaid in 1996. Thought I could work there forever. Then, boom. Six months later they transferred my department (customer service) to Wooster. (If I’d been a factory worker, maybe it would have been different because the factory is still here and has expanded.)
Then I go to work for Cell One and 4 years later they sell out to US Cellular. There went my job.
My last job, in teaching, which I lost because my boss was an idiot, would have been lost anyway, a year later, because the program shut down, due to budget cuts thanks to our idiotic governor.
And during their retirement they had us baby boomers contributing to their SS. It was secure. Not any more.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yep, truly the good old days when you could have a nice home, 2 cars in the driveway, maybe a boat, family vacations and a nice retirement plan all on one salary too!
My moms house cost 26k in 1956. She sold it for 300k in 1981!

Dutchess_III's avatar

My folks built a house for $35K in 1968, sold it 13 years later for…I think $175K.

My Aunt and Uncle in Washington bought 10 acres of land in 1962. He built the 5 bedroom house himself (my aunt took me through once, in 2006 or so, bitching about “See this? See how crooked?!” Damn Dutch women! ~) It was probably really cheap at the time. I bet less than $50, land and all. Well, it’s in the Bill Gates area so it’s worth millions, millions now. And it is BEAUTIFUL! The land, surrounding it especially. It seems so secluded still, but of course all kinds of crap has sprung up all around it.
Sometimes I want to cart my $80,000 home to the Seattle area, plunk it down on a lot so I can get a couple of million for it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My ex and I, on the other hand, bought a house for $45K in 1982 and I sold it 13 years later (after the divorce) and I could only get $48 for it…and the realtor took every cent of the equity and every cent of the $3000 “profit.” Every. Single. Penny. That was one of the biggest blows in my life. It was a shock. I had to excuse myself at closing, when I learned, and went into the bathroom and, oh God. Cried. Cried so, so, so, so hard. Packing up the kids, moving to a new town, almost literally penniless. Oh, God..the stress!

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III I wish I had bought somewhere else years ago, CA. R.E. is outrageous. I remember back in ‘06, right after I got settled in my new place I started looking at homes all over the place. I remember there was a 12 bedroom, ex-victorian girls school on like 15 acres in Iowa I think for like 100k. Insane! I should have bought some bizzarro place in Iowa. I could be trapsing around my gothic mansion right now. haha

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right? I think about the “should haves” too. Bleh.

As soon as I proof read my house-selling post though, I thought of something else….we / I owned that house for 13 years, paid $400 ~ $500 a month, for 13 years. Sold it for all of $3000 more than we paid for it…and the realtor took it all? Do you think I was ripped off??

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: It depends on a variety of factors, as you know. The economy for one. The condition of the house is another biggie.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know. Other things too. But it did sell for $3,000 more than we paid for it.

jca's avatar

To me, $3k is not that big of a profit when it comes to real estate. If you flipped it, maybe. After 13 years, no.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, it isn’t. And I’m sure it lost value. But it is still $3000 more than we paid for it. So it should have been enough to pay off the loan and have at least a little left over. But…it didn’t happen that way.

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