As a single mother of a twenty-six year old woman since she was one years old, I was outraged by Jennifer Aniston’s remark that men are optional in child rising. Although this is a blog on addictions, I felt I needed to take a stand on this topic. I was outraged because I don’t think she understands the ramifications both emotionally and financially of raising a child on your own. She is in another league compared to most women with her celebrity status and her comment is unrealistic of what it encompasses to raise children alone.
I am also a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and I meet single parents all the time, besides myself, that struggle with the hardship and pain that having a family without a father can bring into the family. I am not saying it can’t be done, but it must be a decision that is thought out extremely carefully understanding what it entails. One quarter of single mothers live below the poverty line. Jennifer Aniston does not have to worry about that given her financial resources.
The issue is that many celebrities make statements without really understanding the impact and influence it has on those who follow their example. I have discussed this in great depth how dangerous it is when celebrities role model behavior that glamorize drug addiction or when they role model body images that are unrealistic and in most cases dangerous for anyone to follow. Now Jennifer is role modeling single parenting.
I realize many women become single parents not by choice if they become a widow or go through a divorce, as I did. However, to make a cavalier statement that men are optional is insensitive and degrading to what a father can bring to a family. I struggled disciplining my child without having a partner to support me. Luckily, my parents were instrumental in helping support me financially at times, which gave my daughter many opportunities most children of single parents don’t have. For example, she was able to take dance lessons, which can be very costly, because I had some help from my parents.
With economic times as shaky as they are today, how awful it must be for single parents who loses their job and has no one to help them with the bare necessities. How scary it must be for a child to not know where their next meal will come from or where they are going to live.
I will never forget the look on my daughter’s face when the school was having a Daddy and me Bowling Day. She didn’t have a Daddy to take bowling and it was heartbreaking. I will never forget my daughter not having a dad to go to her open houses, her birthday parties, father’s day, and a host of other significant times in her life where she needed her dad.
Although my daughter has a relationship with her dad, he moved 3,000 miles away from her which made it difficult for both her and her father. I had to remind myself almost daily I couldn’t be a father and a mother, but could only be the best mother I could be. It was still painful and I would not wish that on anyone. So Jennifer, wake up and smell the coffee. Children deserve to have two parents if possible and although single parenting can be done successfully, I do not feel it is optimum for a child. In fact, in some cases I think it is selfish and Jennifer Aniston should think twice before she makes comments that can be detrimental to a child’s life.
2 Moms and a Mic ?2 Moms and a Mic
Get Ready as I join 2 MOMS AND A MIC August 11, 2010 tune in 1400 KKZZ.com to discuss Love Addiction and Adolescents
We live in a time of great worry. Our minds, hearts and stomachs have trouble settling, slowing down and finding peace. From one perspective, we have good cause for concern. The economy’s unpredictability stirs anxiety about our ability to provide for our families in the most basic ways: food, shelter, clothes. And every day a new report informs us that the food we are eating will, in all likelihood, make us sick, if not eventually kill us.
It’s no surprise then that many are finding comfort in their old friend alcohol or marijuana, or whatever addiction numbs the depression and anxiety that has settled in. But this provides no long-term solution; it simply distracts you for a little while.
But the real solution is simple–literally. Slow down. Take a deep breath and begin to adopt both a healthier perspective and healthier coping skills.
Focus on the simple things that still exist in our world today. We have trees we can stand under, flowers we can see and smell, and air we can breathe in deeply. And we can remind ourselves of our ability to choose our response to whatever is happening in our life. We can embrace anxiety and depression and addiction, or we can embrace the opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities and values, says Meredith Watkins, Editor of ReecoveryView.com.
Having less money can be a great blessing when it forces you to see more clearly what you need and what you can do without. Less stuff actually equals more freedom, because in some sense, our possessions do enslave us. Blackberries demand our constant attention, taking it away from our families and friends; enormous homes demand our time and energy at work to earn more money to pay the mortgage. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, the simple things are what bring the most joy and peace.
Challenge yourself to simplify your life where you can: go to a farmer’s market and make a home-cooked meal. Better yet, plant a garden. Turn off the TV and play games with your kids or read a book. Slow down, just a little, and take the time to truly be present in your life.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in private practice and on Celebrity Rehab on VH1. She is also the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, has been working with a concept he calls “flow.” The process of flow occurs when your consciousness matches your goals, allowing psychic energy to flow smoothly. For 40 years, Csikszentmihalyi has been studying what makes people happy, and has found that happiness comes from being in the flow in your life.
I certainly have been in the flow for the last three weeks while working on Celebrity Rehab doing what I love. However, although I was in the flow, I certainly was not feeling balance. It has been so great to have my time back. You realize just how precious time is when you have none. I enjoyed a Stevie Nicks concert with my daughter this week. That was certainly an experience of being in the flow as I rocked out with my daughter to her music, transforming myself back to when I was 17 my first year of college at San Diego State Univeristy. Some might say I was in a trance, but I would say I was definitely in the “flow.”
You can listen to a talk he gave about this idea of flow at http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html. In it, he says, “There are seven conditions that seem to be there when a person is in flow. There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity, you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other, you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though it’s difficult. And a sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger. Once those conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.”
When you are in the flow, your actions are natural, fluid, and graceful. Everything just feels “right.” So, of course, it’s not possible when you are behaving in a way that makes you feel guilt, shame, anxiety, or fearfulness. You can’t be caught up in adiction and be in the flow. And you can’t be caught up in blame or denial or furstration or anger.
When you’re in the flow, in tune with your creative energies and your purpose, you feel it’s worth spending your life doing things for which you don’t expect either fame or fortune–as long as those things make your life meaningful. He writes in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, “It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”
Flow comes about when you are challenged by something in an exciting way, and you feel your skills are up to the task. So it’s not about just sitting back and being comfortable; it’s about pushing yourself a little bit. He says being in a state of arousal is actually good, “Because you are over-challenged there. Your skills are not quite as high as they should be, but you can move into flow fairly easily by just developing a little more skill. So arousal is the area where most people learn from, because that’s where they’re pushed beyond their comfort zone and … then they develop higher skills.”
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Psychotherapist and Life is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.