Invisible Obstacles Series

Map Makers & Dynamite – A Light in the Tunnel, Part 8

 FROM THE INVISIBLE OBSTACLES SERIES

Map Makers & Dynamite

LIGHT IN THE TUNNEL, Part 8

 

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

Maya Angelou
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boy about to throw an orange ball

[Accessibility Description: Aidan prepares to throw an orange ball in his back yard]

THE ONE WHO FIGHTS FOR IT

“You can’t let it go. You have to be the one who fights for it. And I think that no matter your socioeconomic background, no matter where you are – if you don’t fight for those things, you’re never going to get them. And you run the risk of your child falling by the wayside, or getting swept under the rug.”

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I was raised by a single-mother. I’m also autistic.

While my mom did amazing things to support me and get me the education and privileges I now hold – there were many ways both of us fell through the cracks. My mom is dyslexic and ADHD, and although she eventually got a college degree when I was in high school, she never graduated high-school and couldn’t help me with school work, bullies, or abusive teachers. Raising me on her own, she didn’t have the time, the energy, or the confidence to recognize or advocate for diagnostic testing or resources for my social and learning disabilities.

Single mothers are wedged into an impossible place in our society, creating a cycle of poverty only super-human (or in our case, ADHD) effort can break us out of. It shouldn’t be this hard.

I’m focused on single-mothers here, not because single-fathers don’t have it hard – but because of the way we treat mothers in our culture. Single fathers are treated like oddball saints. Strangers offer to help them in restaurants, families assume they’re incompetent and give them a pass for ‘misbehaving’ children – whereas single mothers are labeled evil and lazy, or criminally neglectful. All these assumptions are untrue – but the cold facts are that single mothers, as a statistic, have the hardest time finding employment, healthcare, housing, and support.

Find out how to help below – and then share this post. Single mothers who need the most help aren’t in a position to ask for help – so it’s up to you.

 

BE A MAP MAKER

LEARN HOW TO SUPPORT MOTHERS

We are dramatically failing families, children, and single-parents in our country. This is a crisis. Start discussions with friends, family, employers, and your elected officials.

  • Learn 5 simple things you can do to support single parents and watch for opportunities to do so.
  • Understand how systemic oppression contributes to cycles of poverty families of color
    • Learn the truth about ‘welfare moms’:
      Thanks a US campaign to vilify them in the 80’s, single black mothers face more discrimination in employment, housing, and healthcare than their non-black counterparts.
      They are also more likely to parent alone due to the school to prison pipeline that breaks families apart. Get 101 training on how to be an effective ally and support black women with Safety Pin Box.
    • Colonialism is still hurting Indigenous American mothers, and it’s not too late to help:
      “Native American mothers often face more high-risk pregnancies and maternal complications than their non-Native counterparts do, and the infant mortality rate is 4.4 percent less for Native Americans than for other ethnicities in the U.S. The birthing risks are due in part to inadequate nutrition, diabetes and other health issues preconception. Native women have a harder time accessing preventative healthcare on the reservations, and the barriers may include something as simple as transportation to doctor appointments or consistency of primary care.”
      Partnership with Native Americans (click through for resources).
    • The traumatic experience of ‘Satellite Babies’
      With skyrocketing childcare costs, Asian-Americans parents are forced to send their newborn children across the world alone to be raised by extended family. Forced to stay in the US to support family abroad, parents of ‘Satellite babies’ have to wait years to hold their children again. Arriving back in the US as kindergarteners, these children don’t know their parents, and they’re given no resources to prepare or cope with the drastic culture shock and loss everyone they know and love when they come back home.
      When I think about this – I can’t breathe. I think of how it felt to hold my newborns in my arms, how fragile they were, how I would fight anyone to the death if they tried to take them. Then I imagine sending those tiny bundles on a plane across the world. Find out how to advocate for parental employment protection, paid leave, and affordable childcare below.

 

Boy sitting on stairs

[Accessibility Description: Aiden sits in the bottom step at a hockey rink holding an ice skate. His helmet sits on the floor next to his feet.]

LEARN HOW TO FIGHT ABLEISM

 

boy climbing tree

[Accessibility Description: Aiden climbs a tree, looking through the leaves toward the camera]

BE THE DYNAMITE

SUPPORT POOR AND HOMELESS SINGLE MOTHERS:

  • Volunteer for as little as 2 hours, donate toiletries and magazines, or skip a snack and donate the $5 you save to organizations like Rosie’s Place (Boston area) or call a local shelter and ask what they need. Gather 2-4 friends to volunteer or donate and amplify your impact.

 ADVOCATE FOR PAID FAMILY LEAVE:

  • Learn how to advocate for win-win paid family leave at your workplace. Even (especially) if you’re advocating for others. Those who can least afford to take unpaid time off or risk termination to care for sick children and family members might not have the time and job security to do so. Educate & entice employers on how it helps the bottom line at The Breeding Ground.

FIGHT FOR FAMILY-FRIENDLY LEGISLATION:

  • Fight for flexible work schedules, affordable healthcare, sick leave, and other policies that disproportionately impact single mothers, equalize the gender and family wage gap, and allow victims to gain freedom from domestic abusers at MomsRising.Org. Choose up to 5 easy actions delivered to your inbox each week, from easy online petitions, scripts to write your local media, and sharing your own story.

 

Mother and son sit on mulched ground with wooden shingle background

[Accessibility Description: Sherri & Aidan laugh together]

LIGHT THE PATH

SPEAK UP:

  • Feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and alone, but too nervous to ask for help?
    ASK ANYWAY.
    When other parents see that you are willing to hire childcare, as a friend to babysit, and get help with housework, errands, and work projects, they will be more likely to follow in your footsteps. If you want your children to grow up advocating for themselves, you need to set the example.
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“We can encourage our children to ask for help; however, if they don’t see us reaching out for support and modeling that behavior, they will instead attach value to never needing help.”
Brené Brown, Rising Strong

 

 Find out how to help below – and then share this post.
Single mothers who need the most help aren’t in a position to ask for help – so it’s up to you.

If you enjoyed the Invisible Obstacles Series, find out how to support Ashia’s do-goodery projects on Patreon.

 

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This session is from the Invisible Obstacles Series. Families in the Invisible Obstacles series provide a glimpse into daily life while navigating adversity. Names and locations of minors may have been changed to protect privacy. Permission & quotes attributed to Sherri L. unless otherwise specified.

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