Those of your in our TEA Community just saw a video I posted about this same topic, and this post goes into it a bit deeper:
Over the course of a week, I had the same complaint pop up quite a few times from quite a few sources in my Facebook feed. The complaint was that otherwise partnered-up parents should not say they are a single parent if their partner is say, out of town for the weekend. The reasoning was that it’s nowhere near the same as being a “real” single parent since they usually have the help and support of the children’s other parent.
At first I agreed with the sentiment; after all, those two mothers really do live two different lifestyles. But then I kept pondering on it, and all the different ways someone can be a single parent: single parent with 50/50 custody and lots of time off from parenting; single parent with no family or friends nearby; single parent living in a multi-generational home; single parent by choice; single parent not by choice; single parent with a great tribe; and on and on. Then you could start ranking the types of single parent, if you wanted. So, really, who’s to say what kind of parent has the right to claim “ultimate single-parenthood?”
After all this time lost in my thoughts, I came to the realization that even though I had initially agreed with the complaint, I now didn’t. Which led me to wonder why people get offended about stuff like this. And the conclusion I came to was that it all comes back to the stories we tell ourselves.
I don’t know what each offended person’s story was around being a single parent, but they could have been one of the following:
- I’m angry that I am a single parent. I didn’t choose or want this, but here I am. So don’t compare your struggles to mine.
- I’m way over-worked and over-stressed, and you have support most days. So don’t compare your struggles to mine.
- I’m a single parent because of a tragedy. So don’t compare your struggles to mine.
- Even though I chose to be a single parent, it’s still really hard. So don’t compare your struggles to mine.
Do you see the pattern? No matter what the story, each person wants to hold on to their pain and struggles as more than someone else’s. And it’s the holding onto of the story that creates the pain.
Let me repeat that: It’s the holding onto of the story that creates the pain.
What are your stories?
This same concept applies to all instances when you feel offended by someone’s words or actions. That feeling of offense always comes from a story you’re holding onto.
Think back to the last time you felt this way. What stories were you holding onto, are you still holding onto, that kept you in pain?
What would happen if you let those stories go?