Empowering Single Parents: Strategies to Elevate Your Resilience

I have mentioned in several of my blogs how challenging it is to navigate life as a single parent. Even if you are fortunate enough to not have to deal with the financial strains and pressures of being a single parent, you will still have to deal with potential trauma, conflicting priorities, instilling discipline in your child or children, and keeping them safe and healthy. It’s in these very challenges, however, where the opportunity to elevate your resilience emerges.

Understanding Resilience. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of Resilient is as follows:

  1. Capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture.
  2. Tending to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change.

I would also add that being resilient is the ability to bounce back from adversity, cope with all types of challenges, and learn how to adapt to almost any situation that life throws at you. This becomes even more important if you are a single parent. In most cases, you will face adversity almost daily. Conflicting priorities, financial struggles, and health issues are very common in single-family homes. Being resilient becomes a matter of survival for you and your child or children. 

How does a person become resilient or build resiliency in their lives? If you have read my blogs in order, you’ll know the answer to that question. If you have found my website and are reading this blog prior to reading any of the others, you will need to start at the beginning of the blog page and read all of the blogs in the single parents’ section. I will, however, provide a short summary.

Back view of boxer in red boxing gloves showing yes gesture

The Unique Challenges of Single Parenting.

If you are a single parent, you need to be aware of the facts, statistics, and risk factors. It is unfortunate and sad to say that if you are a single parent you are more likely to live in poverty for most of your life. 30% of single parents live in poverty and a large majority will continue to live week to week. That usually means neighborhoods with poorer schools and less resources. Children in fatherless homes are 20 times more likely to end up in jail. A high percentage of girls in fatherless homes participate in risky behavior like drugs, being sexually active, and other harmful activities. A very large percentage of strippers and prostitutes come from fatherless homes. 

Single-parent homes are much more likely to have children that exhibit physical, mental, and behavioral health problems, disrupted brain development, shorter educational trajectories, aggression, and the list goes on. Having worked with teenagers for most of my adult life, I was aware of these statistics when I became a single parent and I have watched them playout and ruin children’s lives. You should know and understand the facts about being a single parent. These sad facts and statistics will keep you motivated to be the best parent you can be by building resiliency and being able to overcome almost any obstacle, hardship or setback. 

Strategies to boost resilience with you and your child or children.

  1. You need to deal with the trauma. Being a single parent, especially if you suffered through a bad divorce, can be traumatic. You need to see a professional psychologist, therapist, etc. to determine if you have any decline in cognitive function. You will need to have 100% mental clarity to care for yourself and your family.
  2. Nothing is more important than getting your priorities in order. You will need to have a very clear set of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly priorities to navigate any and all conflicts. I would recommend you go back and reread the blog on priorities if you don’t recall the importance of priorities. It sets the stage for all the other steps I have written about. 
  3. Living a healthy lifestyle should be very high on your priority list. You won’t be able to function if you don’t learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It will help you deal with stress, reduce anxiety, manage your emotions, sleep better, and in many cases will help maintain your metabolism.
  4. Understanding the importance of goal setting is tantamount to building resiliency. By setting realistic goals and building upon your successes you will be able to find solutions to any problem or setback. 
  5. Instill discipline with yourself and your children. Self-discipline helps you maintain control over your life and avoid unhealthy situations. Instilling discipline with your children will teach them to respect you, their teachers, and authority figures and develop self-control.
  6. I strongly suggested in one of my blogs that single parents should not be dating. Your priority should be your children and providing them with a normal and healthy lifestyle. Dating only takes time away from your child or children. By not dating parents learn how to be independent, and nothing builds resilience more than learning how to be independent.
  7. I also suggested that single parents take the high road by not saying anything negative about their ex-spouse or partner. That goes for all people everywhere. If you are trying to establish habits that build resilience, don’t waste negative energy on negative people. 
  8. I wrote a blog titled “Find Your Heroes”. In it, I mentioned people I know personally that have overcome incredible trauma and hardships. Those people inspire me daily. Identify and acknowledge your own personal heroes and keep them close to you, either in-person or in memory. They will continue to inspire you. 
  9. Never waste a failure. I have watched people in business, parents, teachers, and friends continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Everyone needs to learn from their mistakes. Failure is an opportunity to do just that. You should document your mistakes, journal them, and make sure you never repeat them. Wisdom comes with age but only if you learn from your experiences. 

Real-life Stories of Resilient Single Parents.

I mentioned on the About Us Page on my website that I experienced a series of hardships within a six-month period which included losing my house, health, job, and family. I knew that eventually, I would find a new job and a new home. I also knew that I would get my health back, although I didn’t have a timeframe because it wasn’t a priority at the time. Eventually, I was able to find a decent job and a safe and comfortable place to live. My health took several years of exercise and eating healthy to get back to normal. I even got my kids back. I did not have legal custody. They moved back in with me by choice. 

I will also admit that it was probably eight years before I made a full recovery which included not just my income, health, and children, it also included my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It seemed like an eternity before, what I would consider to be, a full. I finally felt good about myself as a provider, role model, and most importantly, father. 

I wrote a blog titled “Find Your Heroes”. In it I mentioned people I know personally that have overcome incredible trauma and hardships. Those people inspire me daily. Identify and acknowledge your own personal heroes and keep them close to you, either in-person or memory. They will continue to inspire you.  

A friend of mine from church has five children and I would see them almost every Sunday. They were always nicely dressed and well behaved. When her oldest was 17 and her youngest was 2, she learned her husband was having an affair. He traveled internationally, admitted to the affair, and never came home. She never received any alimony or child support. Some people have an incredible ability to block out all adversity and focus on the problem at hand. Ann went to work, and managed to find a job with flexible hours so she was still able to care for her kids. Amazingly, while raising 5 kids and working, she managed to go back to school part-time and eventually became a nurse. I’m sure she isn’t the only single parent (man or woman) to accomplish this. However, her priorities demanded cooking, cleaning, kids’ homework, sports, her job, and her own school work. I’m sure the pressure of conflicting priorities and financial burdens was daily. Today, Ann is still a mother of five and also a grandmother of one. Her oldest graduated from college with honors, has two in college, one in high school, and her youngest in junior high. She is a pediatric nurse at Charlotte’s largest children’s hospital and still studying for an additional degree. Ann didn’t just survive, she thrived. She is also one of my personal heroes and, in my opinion, a living saint. 

I met Tara in the summer of 1983. My family had a beach house at the Jersey shore and that same summer I made friends with a group of young adults my age whose family and friends also had homes at the same beach. We would hang out together during the day at the beach, and in the evenings meet up at the local bars and clubs. Tara was always nice, friendly, and fun to be with. She and her friend Laura were always good company, and we formed a nice friendship. A couple of years after we met, I learned from a mutual friend that when Tara was a rising senior in high school her parents and her two younger siblings drove cross country for the summer. She petitioned her parents to allow her to stay home. She had a job, wanted to work, and spend some time with her friends during the summer. We all remember our teenage years and I’m sure we all would have asked for the same. More importantly, Tara was very responsible and mature, so her parents honored her request. About a month into the trip, Tara got a call from the police in another state informing her that her entire family died in a horrible car accident. I don’t know how a 17-year-old copes with such a tragic event. I don’t know if anyone, regardless of their age, could understand the trauma she must have experienced. I didn’t know her at the time and I’m sure she never completely recovered. How could anyone recover from something so traumatic? Amazingly, she was always pleasant, never talked about it, and certainly never used it as a crutch. Our friendship lasted about 10 years until my parents sold the beach house. I also got married and moved from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina, and lost contact. This was long before social media made it impossible to lose track of people, which is how we got reunited. In 2016, Tara found me on Facebook. I reconnected with her and her friend Laura. I was planning on meeting up with them on my next trip to New York to visit my extended family. A few days prior to my trip I received a call from Tara’s friend Laura. She thought I should be aware of something prior to the three of us getting together. She informed me that Tara had three daughters. About 8 years ago, her oldest daughter, who was 5 at the time, went in for a very common tonsillectomy, like so many kids do at that age. In one of the most unbelievable things I have ever heard, Tara’s daughter died in the hospital from a rare staph infection.
This is the same woman, who fifteen years earlier lost her entire family to a car accident. I can honestly say that I almost had a heart attack myself. I froze for about 10 seconds. I was totally speechless and numb. She wanted me to be aware of this horrific event prior to meeting with her and Tara. I still cannot grasp how such these two horrific events could happen to one person, how she coped with either, or how she survived. Amazingly, she did. She has a very supportive husband and two daughters that need her, so her focus is on her family. I’m sure she has plenty of bad days and may have a hard time when she is alone and the house is quiet, but she is still the same nice, kind, friendly person she was when I met her in 1983. Obviously, she is one of my personal heroes also.

Another person that I rely on for motivation and inspiration is Amanza Smith. If you know the name, she is one of the realtors on the hit reality show Selling Sunset. You might be a fan of the show and are unaware of her life story and you would never guess that she is a model of resiliency that started at the age of three. Amanza admitted that she was sexually abused by two members of her family when she was between the ages of three to eleven. She grew up in poverty, lived in a trailer, and was raised by her best friend’s mother. Amanza speaks very little about her biological parents. In spite of all that, she somehow managed to move to California and made it as an NFL cheerleader.

In 2010 she married an NFL player, Ralph Browm. They had two children but they separated in 2012. In 2019 Brown disappeared.  Amanza was left with nothing. She had to find a place to live, a source of income to pay her bills, and figure out a way to raise her children. She mentions on one of the episodes of Selling Sunset that she would do anything to put food on the table, which included cleaning toilets. Over time, she started an interior design business, which led to selling real estate and eventually a job at the Oppenheimer group and a star on Selling Sunset. In spite of her success and fortitude, the misfortune continued for Amanza.

In 2022 she had a cancer scare from some abnormality seen on a scan of her uterus. The results of the biopsy were benign, but I’m sure the stress of being a mother of two was enough to trigger severe anxiety.

Then the following year, in 2023 she was in the hospital again for two months due to a minor surgery which led to a blood infection. It took a couple of months, but she recovered from that as well. Compared to her other hardships, the blood infection was a minor setback but the frequency of these ongoing afflictions has taken its toll on her physical, emotional, and mental health. I know very few people that have had to deal with adversity as seriously and as often as Amanza Smith. She is a model of resiliency and has some obvious superpowers.


If you can emulate the lifestyles of people who have overcome tremendous adversity and master the techniques I have mentioned in the blog, you will be able to bounce back from any hardship, unexpected tragedy or extreme adversity. More importantly, you will be able to do it with little thought or planning. When adversity strikes you will automatically go into defense mode and react instinctively. In fact, you might even face new hardships or misfortune with joy, knowing that you have the confidence and ability to overcome any obstacle or affliction. You have become battle hardened, ready for any unforeseen circumstance. A warrior ready to do battle at any time of day or night. When you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning to another catastrophe, you won’t panic. You’ll take a deep breath and say to yourself “let me put on my cape and get to work”. Become a warrior. Be Superman or Superwoman to your children. Practice these principles and be Resilient.