Knowing how and when to ask for help

Knowing when and how to ask for help as a divorced, single parent is difficult for anyone.

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  • When 30-year-old Emily and her husband divorced, leaving Emily with full custody of their two preschool children, she didn’t know if she’d make it through the day let alone through the weeks and months that were to come. Divorce had never been part of her long-term plans. Neither had single parenting. Yet here she was; going back wasn’t an option.

  • Feeling overwhelmed is normal

  • Even though Emily was desperately afraid and overwhelmed at times, she knew one thing, she’d survive. She had to. Still grieving the loss of her marriage, adjusting to working and parenting 24/7, on her own, all left Emily exhausted and unable to look past each day’s events — and sometime catastrophes. When people asked Emily how she was doing or what her future plans included, she didn’t know what to say. Thinking ahead and planning for a different future than merely surviving seemed laughable.

  • Be willing to accept a helping hand

  • Don’t be shy about taking trusted family and friends up on their offers to assist in practical ways. Say yes to babysitting help, running errands, minor household fix-it projects, and car maintenance tasks. Most people long to help out; they just don’t know how to extend themselves in ways that matter most to a single parent. When someone offers, say thank you and accept.

  • Ask for a listening ear

  • Single parents need other adults to confer with and confide in regularly. It isn’t enough to talk issues out with the kids, no matter how old they are. Schedule regular appointments with a close friend to whom you can unreservedly unburden yourself without guilt or regret. Good friends allow you to first let the hurt and anger out; then they help you make wise plans to deal with each problem accordingly.

  • Take life one day at a time

  • No matter how dire today’s situation appears or feels; realize it is only one day in a life. Always begin each new day with a fresh, expectant attitude. And remember, crisis mode is seasonal and temporary — it always is.

  • Thankfully, Emily realized early on that she needed outside support from family and friends. This single parenting life wasn’t going to work if she attempted it on her own. Emily started listing all the gracious people who had offered to lend a hand. She started taking them up on their offers. It did her and her children a world of good. Those helping felt grateful to be part of assisting Emily as she began to rebuild a better future for herself and her children.

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  • Something to remember — single, married, widowed or divorced — it’s a common struggle to humble yourself to ask for help. When you’re in need, you know what could help be it more money, an appliance repair, or a couple of hours of alone time. But the truth is, unless you share your struggles the people who love you, most assume you’re OK. If they knew your hardships, they might willingly offer assistance. The truth is, we all need each other, and once you understand that fact, your relationships with others can deepen and grow. I may need your help today — but tomorrow you may need mine. Backup is a beautiful thing.

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Michele is the author of 12 books, and over 1,600 articles for publications HopeAfterDivorce.org and FamilyShare.com, Good Housekeeping and Single Parent Family.

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