Many of you may not know this; but, I, Ryan, finished my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy last August (2017). I had the pleasure of walking for the first time ever in any of my college graduation commencements two weeks ago. I have to admit to a certain amount of exuberance as I entered a football stadium filled with about 40,000 graduates, faculty, and family members. It was not the best of days in terms of the weather; I had to sit in the rain for six hours from the time we lined up as graduates to walk into the stadium until the commencement was finished. Despite the rain, everyone was smiling, laughing, and honored to be in attendance for such a once in a life time event. I do not want this post to sound like it is about me, but I felt it necessary for those of you reading this to understand the context of my thoughts for this blog. At my commencement, the key note speaker was former President of the United States Jimmy Carter; at 94 years of age, he is still a very able speaker. I could share a lot about my impressions of President Carter’s speech, but the speaker from my commenceent that came to mind as I write this blog was United States HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
Ben Carson’s mother was a single mother. During Mr. Carson’s introduction at the commencement, we were informed that she worked several different jobs to provide for an opportunity for her children to go to school and do better in life than she was able to do on her own. In case you do not know Ben Carson’s story, he became a well known neurosurgeon who developed procedures for separating conjoined twins, operating on babies still in the womb, and was the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the country at the age of 33. This was all before he became known in the area of politics. I share this long introduction not because I want each of you to become Ben Carson fans; I share this because Ben Carson’s mother exemplifies the highest percentage of phone calls that Hope4Healing receives, young, single, mothers. Most of the single mothers who contact Hope4Healing are in the lower socioeconomic status and women of color. Mrs. Carson struggled with depression, suicidal ideations, and was the mother to Ben who admits that he was a hot tempered teenager often getting into fights.
As a therapist, I work with quite a few single parents (mostly mothers) who struggle in the same way that Ben Carson’s mother struggled. They have their own demons that they fight against not just daily, but often times hourly. Many times these single parents feel like inadequate supports for their children. They won’t give up, but they often times push themselves to the point of exhaustion and relapse. It is true sometimes, even most of the time they have had past brushes with the law; and now they must work fulltime, obey the rules put upon them by society or possibly the court, and be a strong support for their children. Just like Ben Carson, many times their children are difficult to raise and have their own brushes with the law.
So let me address the question that some of you might be asking, “Why should I care?” Ben Carson’s mother was able to pull through and provide for her family due to the support of those who cared for her. Ben Carson’s story might have been drastically different if not for his mother’s sister and brother-in-law and her faith. This is exactly the type of support we seek to provide through our friendship partners at Hope4Healing. By encouraging and lifting up these single parents, we have the hope that their children will rise up and do great things; we also have the hope that these single parents will rise up and do great things. Too often, we see society fall on one of two sides regarding this issues of helping single parents from low socioeconomic and/or minority homes. On the hand we want to give families like the ones I have been describing everything taking away their dignity and ability to rise up; and on the other hand, we want say that they deserve what has happened to them and they need to struggle through it. In reality, what most of these single parents need is a kind word, someone to encourage them, and/or someone who wants to see them succeed. Our friendship partners fill that role effectively; and we are so privileged to be able to partner with our friendship partners to help not just single family homes, but all who call Hope4Healing for help. To find out more about the role of a friendship partner, to get involved, or find a friendship partner near you, give us a call Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 855-584-HOPE (4673). Would you also consider supporting us financially with a $25.00 or more donation? Your financial support allows us to continue providing for these single mothers and their children by both helping us find their physical needs and their need for friendship.
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