My sister-in-law Annie is one of my great examples in life. I love her, and how her mind and heart work. I shared one thing I love most about her at the end of my “Places of Security” presentation a while back. She has gone through some rough things, including a divorce a few years ago. There have been some dark days. But she knows how to build a village of support, and she knows to look Up for guidance. I love that she came up with “six things single parents want you to know.” These things were based on things she had noticed that others had done for her that meant so much. And also based on things she felt voids for, and knew (and was strong enough) to ask for.

Ever since she shared these ideas with me I’ve been meaning to share them here (with her permission).

Because I love anything that gives us a window into how others are feeling. Anything that helps facilitate connection.

But let’s back up for a minute before we delve in. Back in the spring a few of us had the opportunity to celebrate Annie’s birthday with her in Newport.

That girl is wise and knows how to rally cheerleaders when she needs them. She was finding this particular upcoming birthday particularly heavy, and I loved that she called on us to help her ease into it.

These days were filled up with lots of talking and goodness. And also Mother Earth.

I mean, look at this beauty!

Of course, we found some good food too.

Many of our conversations were filled up with how to be “witnesses” for each other. Oh how we need to “hold space” for one another. And for others to hold it for us as well.

One night as we were late-night talking, Annie shared this list she had been working on for a while. A list to help others get a little glimpse into what would help give support as she goes about her day-to-day life.

Six Things Single parents want you to know:

I’m going to let Annie kind of “guest post” with these things because I want it to come from her perspective (that she wrote up for me after our discussion). When family and friends have done these things, it made her feel seen. And we all need to feel seen.

Her words are in italics. Here we go:

Give Encouragement.

It feels good to all of us to know what we’re doing well. For someone to witness and notice the efforts we’re putting in. So look for and compliment the things we are doing well. It’s a daily grind with no witnesses and very little if any encouragement. The voice in our head is strong telling us we are falling short. Let us know what we’re doing well. It helps..a lot.

Take Time to Ask

We don’t have another adult to talk things through on the daily. It’s nice to be able to share the details of our lives with others who care. I know everyone has busy lives, but human connection is so important for both sides of the relationship.

Take an Interest in Our Kids

This is true for every parent, the way to love us is love our kids. And our kids could sure use the extra love we often don’t have to give. I know from my own experience how true this is. The older I get the more gratitude I have for those around me who are willing to become my village. To help my kids realize their potential. Their goodness. Sometimes it takes someone different from your parents to really help you hone into what you are doing well and help build you up.

Be Aware that Sometimes it’s Tough for Us to Be With You

Sometimes being single is so painful we can’t handle it. And sometimes we’re feeling strong and we’re fine. It’s not you, it’s us. We’re working on it. But give us the grace that we need and be patient with us if we turn down invitations.

Invite Us Anyway

Even if we turn you down multiple times, don’t give up on us! It’s a lonely road. It’s nice to feel included. Even if we don’t accept all the time, keep asking. There is so much good that comes from that connection for us and for our kids.

Give Us Grace and Time to Heal

Everyone’s healing journey has its own timeline and path. It’s messy and we’re not always our best selves. Be patient with us. Just love. We’ll get there when we get there.

I loved all these ideas and was so grateful for the feedback. I’m still working on it.

I loved the window into some feelings and vulnerabilities that Annie shared.

Because that’s how we connect as human beings.

And connection is a pretty powerful tool to fight for, especially these days when our world tends to get more and more fragmented.

I couldn’t help but think about this as we rode bikes through the “flower streets” one cloudy afternoon. All those flowerbeds spilling out with color and vibrancy.

I thought of the time and effort…and yes, connection that it took to build that beauty. Taking time away from scrolling social media and tending to something outside of ourselves.

Thank you Annie, for that little window.

I know we’d both love to hear input from others. I know there are lots of single people out there. Lots of feelings going on. Let’s try to understand and support, connect and love each other ever more fully.


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  1. It is good to hear from the frontlines of a family member. I am so afraid to ask as I would be seen as too nosy. I was raised to keep things to self as well to never ask personal questions. This is a good thing to be able to share. I am sure it aids in the healing. Thank you for this most enlightened post.

  2. Loved this so much! Definitely different content than what we are used to seeing on here, and I loved it. So relatable and important to know, so we can be there for the people we love. I hope she knows how grateful I am that she allowed you to share a little of her story. Cheering you on, Annie! 💓

  3. This post hits home. I very recently became a single parent, and it’s so hard. I made the choice due to the situation I was in, but the “right choice” is still difficult.

    I agree that checking in and not being afraid to ask me the “hard questions” is actually really helpful. It’s so easy for us to want to keep those feelings in, but we really need to release them.

    Especially in the beginning (where I am now), I have found eating to be a real challenge. As a lover of food, this is especially difficult. The stress response our body goes through during this process is unreal – bringing a meal, inviting us over for a meal, even snacks! – is so appreciated.

    A big one for me is asking for help. I am not good at it, so sometimes offers of help need to just…. Happen. Showing up for us is so important, no if’s, and’s or but’s.

    Thank you so much for this post, Shawni and Annie. It feels so cathartic to be “seen” and “heard”.

  4. I used to be a single parent for three years, and it was very hard. I had two toddlers, half a year and 2,5 years old at the beginning. The hardest thing for me was NEVER having a minute to myself. It wore me out. And I was under the wrong impression that I had to manage by myself. On the one hand I was proud to be able to do it – and often praised for it by others. I had been raised to think that it was a good thing to manage everything alone and not having to ask for help. But that is wrong. I love helping others but used to be (and I guess still am) bad at asking for help and support myself. In my current relationship of now 17 years – and with now five kids in total – I’m trying to do better. Sharing tasks, asking for help, and expressing whenever it’s about to be too much for me – it works out much better. To get back to what wore me out most – never having a minute to myself and always being in charge: I would have loved a friend to babysit once in a while or, even better, on a regular basis so that I could collect my thoughts and think about what I need.

  5. Love this – definitely more relatable as someone else mentioned. These ideas were helpful as our son was recently divorced. We are working on providing as much help and support as possible as he navigates this huge life change . Thanks for branching out and posting these thought provoking ideas.

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