Divorced mothers need friends, not finger-pointing


July 05, 1992|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

For a while, it seemed as if absolutely everyone were getting a divorce. Nowadays it seems as if absolutely no one can understand why anyone else would do such a thing.

The same neighbor or co-worker who just a few years ago would have shaken her head in sympathy is more likely to shake her finger today, and say something like: "Why would anyone get a divorce with an AIDS epidemic and a recession going on? Why can't these people just, you know, get along?"

A young divorced mother named Diane wrote from Seattle this week because she's experiencing first-hand the kind of loneliness that this attitude exacerbates.

"You used to write sympathetic articles about how hard it is to be a divorced working mother. I wish you would again, now that I am going through this terrible experience," her letter began.

"Just keeping things together, holding a full-time job and taking care of my two small, bewildered children kept me too busy to be lonely during the first year after my husband left us.

"But now my job and my children just aren't enough. I don't want to date -- a romantic relationship is the last thing I need right now! -- but I desperately need some kind of companionship.

"My problem is that I don't have time for finding friendships because I spend all my time either at work or with my children, and I had to move across town from the friends I used to have when I was married.

"There just isn't time left for me by the time I work all day and do the work at night and on weekends that two parents did before. The only companionship I find is at work, and I'm afraid I'm abusing it," she wrote.

"I'm so lonely that I catch myself talking and talking at work. The girls in my department know all about my life -- more than they want to know, I'm sure -- and they aren't even really my friends!

"Maybe other divorced readers of your column feel the same way. If you printed this letter, maybe they could at least know they're not really so alone, or maybe they could write to you with ideas about how they survive this awful post-divorce loneliness."

If you're a divorced working parent, it's crucial that you take the time to find people who can understand your situation and offer their support.

There's a Parents Without Partners chapter in virtually every town and city in the country -- a good place to start. Call your nearest mental health center, social services office, YWCA, church or synagogue, United Way office, counseling center, NOW chapter or other women's support groups in your area, as well.

When the pain of a divorce isolates us, we're all too likely to tell ourselves that we can't afford the time or money to take care of ourselves, especially if we have full-time jobs and custody of young children.

So if there's a Diane in your workplace -- or mine -- let's offer our hands in friendship.

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