Imagine going through your morning routine, getting the kids up and ready for school while also trying to get yourself and partner ready, when the rug is suddenly pulled out from under you and your world is changed. Rather than having a partner to help you, you are now alone.
You are now a single parent.
In Robert Beeson’s book, Going Solo, he discusses his experience of going from having a partner to going it alone to help other single parents navigate the same situation. Whether you have become a single parent through divorce, death, or you have never been married, there is helpful information in here for every situation. The author is honest, explaining his part in the divorce, what went wrong, and how to deal with different situations a single parent may encounter.
Going Solo aims to help single readers find hope and ways to keep going, to understand they are not alone, that God is there, and to find balance in their lives once again. While the focus of the story is Robert Beeson’s experience, the book also features “solo confessionals,” where other single parents share what they went through and how they handled the situation, giving readers a connection to other single parents.
Beeson discusses what single parents might be feeling — alone but free, broken but helpful, guilt when thinking about starting their lives over again and including a new person to their family dynamic. Parents often feel guilty about their kids not having both parents in their lives on a daily basis, which relates to Bowlby’s attachment theory that kids are programmed from birth to form attachments to others. This allows them to survive, but can be heightened when they feel threatened, such as when they are separated from a parental figure. This can lead them to form unhealthy attachments to others, or they may cling to the remaining parent. Beeson shares his fear for his girls not having their mother in their lives, as well as the consequences of that separation, such as depression, anger, lack of drive, etc.
Robert Beeson is honest in his story, detailing some of his poor choices and short comings. He explains that everyone has their bad habits, but we must try to incorporate simple good habits, like making the bed every morning, praying, meditating, and living each day with gratefulness. He points out that one can be saved but still feel a little broken.
Beeson goes on to discuss how sometimes divorced/single parents tend to make their kids the center of the universe (all with good intentions, of course), but that this is not the healthiest way to live life. Solo parents need to understand that kids need stability, structure, and rules. Creating rituals in a child’s life can be helpful; these rituals do not have to be a big deal, but just something that is consistent in their lives to honor them.
Toward the end of the book, he discusses the ever-common feelings of guilt when a single parent begins to think about dating again. Before dating can occur, he suggests that one must know where they are in the healing process and how dating would affect the kids. He mentions his experience in this area and how it is important to find someone who is on the same path as you. He then gives suggestions (through his experience) on how to approach introducing a new person, and he is honest about some of the areas he struggled with.
Being a single parent is not an easy task, and the book makes it clear that this is a journey. As Robert Beeson says, “Speed might get you there faster, but that’s not what the journey of life is all about. The more weathered and worn we are…., the more life lessons we can absorb, the more you become a part of the flow, and the more in tune with the current you become.”
While I do not have any personal connection to the topic of the book, many of my friends are single parents (full-time or part-time due to deployment), and I have seen them struggle with many aspects mentioned in the book, such as helping their kids to have a balanced life and having those feelings of guilt. They may hold resentment toward their exes or even toward God for the situation that they are placed in. This book helps individuals to refocus and understand that God is still there and they can find that path again.
Let this book be a part of your journey to help you understand you are not alone, your feelings are normal, let God guide you on your new path, and remember that it is not a race to get to where you are going.
Going Solo: Hope and Healing for the Single Mom or Dad
Focus on the Family Pub, April 2018
Paperback, 224 pages