Having grown up as a child of divorce and then being a single mother for many years, I know firsthand how awkward Valentine’s Day can be for single parents and for children that live between two homes. The commercialism of the holiday can bring emotional reminders of romantic loves past or loves lost and trying to find personal joy in the process can seem impossible.  Having been a single parent for several years, I decided to focus on celebrating the love between my daughter, Angelia, and myself instead of just a romantic notion of the holiday… a “Family Valentine’s Day!”

I believe single parent families are just that – FAMILIES! The life, love and legacy of a single parent family is incredibly important, no matter how a single parent family is created. Having HOPE and being determined to defy the emotional obstacles is an important attitude to have, not only for parents, but especially for children. Children follow the lead of their parents in their attitudes and thinking; therefore, it is important to be strong and stable for the sake of your children. It is like being the “rudder” on a large ship; the rudder determines the course and the final destination of the ship and parents strongly determine the attitude and final destination of their children’s emotional lives.

I know countless stories of adults who were raised by a single parent who did an exceptional job being a healthy-minded and successful single parent; the outcome is that the children are now whole and healthy adults who are thriving in their own lives, marriages and families. I have encountered single parents who are currently doing a wonderful job in a not so easy situation by enlisting friends and family to walk the journey with them. I know a man who lost his wife when his daughters were just 2 and 5 years old and now, years later, they graduated from college and are successful business women in our community; he struggled to raise his two little girls and yet he found his way and has done an amazing job as their father! We can raise amazing kids in a single parent family!

This Valentine’s day I encourage you to hug your kids tight, make a fun party of the entire day! Maybe start with heart-shaped toast and eggs in the morning and end with something crazy like PINK PANCAKES for dinner! Consider making a Valentine’s Day cake and enjoy it while you play a few board games before bedtime. Maybe take your kids on a “date” and enjoy a dollar movie and popcorn! Whatever you do, embrace your children and enjoy their love and express your love out loud to them!

Tammy Daughtry, MMFT is the Founder of Co-Parenting International. Tammy was a single mom for eight years and is now a remarried mom for the past three years. She is the author of “Co-parenting Works! Helping Your Children Thrive After Divorce” and has many free resources for single parents and step parents at her website: www.CoparentingInternational.com.

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