Good Girl Book Club

Meet Authors

A Conversation with Sandra Aldrich
author of One Single Mom to Another

GGBC: Hello Sandra. One Single Mom to Another is a book many women can relate to and it is an encouraging and invaluable resource. I highly recommend it. What motivated you to write the book?

SA: Thank you for your kind words about From One Single Mother to Another. You notice that the subtitle is "Advice and encouragement from someone who's been there," and that's exactly what I set out to offer to those who find themselves in a role for which they hadn't planned. When we marry, most of us aren't thinking about early divorce or widowhood. Thus, the advice and encouragement I offer comes from what I had to learn the hard way. By the way, for those who came into single parenting without ever having married, I want to say, "Thank you for not aborting that child!" God isn't finished with any of us yet.

GGBC: As the daughter of a single mother I know firsthand what challenges she faced while raising me and having the role of both mother and father. In addition, she was the breadwinner. How can single mothers begin to form support groups that will help ease the anxiety and stress that comes from having to do it all alone?

SA: Single mothers often think they don't have time for support groups since they're busy juggling so many responsibilities. But we need each other--and that necessary support doesn't have to come in the way of a regular Thursday night gathering. Grabbing advice and encouragement in little chunks--coffee break or lunchtime, Sunday school class--can go a long way in getting us through tough times. We need to know we aren't alone and that others have faced and survived the same challenges.

GGBC: Should a support group or system include married women?

SA: We need friends from all walks of life. Yes, having married friends often may cause us to envy what we think they have, but their parenting experiences will help us see that even traditional families have problems.

GGBC: Women are nurturers by nature and have a tendency to neglect themselves in the process whether married or single. With the increasing rise of single parenting and the unique demands single parenting how can women begin to carve out personal time for self-love and self-care without feeling guilty?

SA: Taking care of me was an area I did not attend to--and now I'm reaping the consequences of earlier bad health choices. I wish I'd given myself permission to find ways to continue my exercise program. Evening walks would have cost nothing and could have included the children, but there was always homework to supervise and housework to do. Today, I stress to my single parenting audiences that they aren't being selfish if they are taking care of their health. By making that a family priority, they are taking care of tomorrow's health as well as todays. Find ways to involve the children. Let them teach you to play again. Team up with another single mother and her children. Just get those muscles moving.

GGBC: In your opinion, do people treat or view single mothers differently?

SA: We live in a "two-by-two" world, so single mothers ARE treated differently. But we have choices as to how we will respond. We can wring our hands and moan our fate. Or we can take a deep breath and concentrate on what we have left instead of what we have lost. I latched onto the Old Testament promise of Isaiah 54:5--"For your Maker is your husband; the Lord Almighty is His name" and I often reminded him through my prayers that I was trusting him to get me--and my children--through the latest challenge.

GGBC: What do you feel is the most difficult challenge single mother's deal with?

SA: Each situation is different, so there's no ONE greatest challenge for the single mother. No matter how we came into single-parenting, most of us have too much stress and too little time. But while some mothers are wading through the grief caused by a spouse's death, others are watching their children's hearts be repeatedly broken by a father who divorced them as well. My Kentucky grandmother used to say, "Honey, there are some things in life that all you can do with `em is bear `em." To that I would add that we bear them best by hanging onto our personal faith and finding ways to grab today's joy.

GGBC: What are some of the ways single mothers can create a sense of family for their children?

SA: Single mothers can create a sense of family by not buying into the concept of a "broken family." Sure, we may not be a traditional family, but we still ARE a family. We need to remember that we are the parent and, as such, we have the responsibility and privilege to lead and encourage our children. A simple way to start that is by establishing new family traditions, finding new ways to have fun and setting routines that fit our new schedules.

GGBC: Most of us deal with the woulda, coulda, shoulda's. In chapter three you discuss guilt. What are some of the things you wish you could have done differently as a single mother? How can single mothers learn from these times in their lives?

SA: Guilt is part of the human condition, but it helps to know the differences between what is true guilt (and must be confessed and asked forgiveness for) and what misplaced and false guilt is. Those last two are the ones that will keep us trapped in emotional holes.

GGBC: As a single mother my Mom was very selective of the men she brought around me. Often times this meant she would be alone since my well-being was most important to her. She sacrificed in many ways that I continue to appreciate. How do you handle the loneliness of being a single mother? Could you provide tips that single mothers can use to help ease the pain of loneliness?

SA: Everybody is lonely at one time or another. In fact, I've learned from my married friends that loneliness can be part of their lives, too; and, how much worse to be lonely in their situation. Again, it's all part of our attitude. We can deal on what we don't have or we can find ways to help others.

GGBC: Sandra what are your thoughts regarding dating and remarriage for single mothers?

SA: If you decide to remarry, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and not out of fear of being alone or fear of the future. Make sure you're running TO something and not FROM something.

GGBC: In the chapter, Keep 'em talking Keep listening you mention the importance of not belittling the other parent. Why is this most important?

SA: Belittling the other parent often places the child in a difficult spot emotionally since he or she feels as though love is supposed to be withheld from the "bad" parent. This is especially difficult as the child is developing his or her own identity. If the other parent truly is terrible, the child will learn the truth later on--and will remember that you didn't thrust vindictive information into his or her young mind.

GGBC: Thank you, Sandra for your time. In closing, From One Single Mother to Another successfully includes all the subjects that single women face, think or about or deal with. It also includes resource information for support groups and a recommended reading guide. You discuss in your closing chapter "trade- offs" and that attitude determines outcome. What are some of the good things that result from a positive attitude?

SA: When we carry a positive attitude, we are open to the good things around us. A pessimistic attitude opens us to wrong decisions and defeat. The New Testament invitation of John 10:10 says it best through the words of Jesus: "I came that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly." And that gift is not withheld from single parents. The abundant life IS waiting. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, stop wasting energy on envy and self-pity and find ways to grab today's joy.


Review: Emma Dash

Emma Dash


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