I am not a single parent, and I only have one child, but even in a two-parent household, there are times when your family needs an extra set of hands. Like the time my husband and I had fourth row seats to see Beck and our babysitter canceled at the last minute. Or the morning we had to be at the hospital at 5 a.m. for my husband’s surgery, but someone needed to make sure my daughter made it to school on time. Or the evening I stayed at the hospital with my husband while he had some medical tests, but my daughter also had to get to lacrosse practice.
Our parents are elderly and they don’t live nearby, and neither my husband nor I have siblings so, without an extended family, we rely on generous friends to help out. Sure, our friends with kids have assisted with carpooling and sleepovers, but it’s more complicated when a couple has their own children with their own practice and game schedules, illnesses and commitments. We are fortunate to have three close friends without children who love our daughter as much as we do, and are always willing to lend a hand.
For instance, the night my daughter needed to get to lacrosse practice our friend, Scott, made sure she had dinner and then drove her to practice. I really only expected him to drop her off, maybe walk her to the field if he wasn’t in a hurry. Instead I received a text from him asking me which mom was driving my daughter home with after practice. Scott wanted to introduce himself and make sure my daughter was getting a ride home because, he texted, “if there is any doubt, I will stay at the practice, and I will bring her home myself.”
I’ve also noticed our friends without children are often more engaged with our daughter than friends who have their own kids. When we get together with couples that have their own children, it is expected that all the kids will go downstairs and entertain themselves. I’m totally on board with this arrangement. It is adult time, and I also just want to relax and talk with my friends—and not have to discipline children or play referee for a few hours. Yet, when we get together with our childless friends, they want to spend time with our daughter, either playing Apples to Apples, watching a favorite TV show with her or even just talking with her. And she loves that.
I am thankful for the extra help from my friends but even more thankful my daughter has close relationships with other adults besides my husband and me. Here are three reasons why:
1. A Neutral Party for Hot Topics
I recognize that my daughter may not always feel comfortable talking with her dad or me about dating, sex or birth control, so I am counting on my friends to be there to discuss hot topics with her and give her sound advice. And they know this. They also know my husband and I well enough, and our values, to help guide our daughter. Sure, I would love for my daughter to feel comfortable asking me anything, but I am a realist who remembers her own teenage years. There is no way I would have asked my parents any of those questions so, instead, I talked with my older cousin.
2. Another Perspective
In a family of only three, it’s easy to feel like a pariah when you don’t agree with the other two. Having the perspective of another person or two, people who know and understand the inner workings of our family, can be very helpful. It also gives my daughter someone to vent to, who will remind her how much her parents do love her and have her best interests at heart, even when it seems like we are just being mean.
3. Another Person to Love Her
Most people have siblings, cousins, and aunts and uncles to help them see they are loved and cherished. My daughter only has the two of us and her grandparents, whom she sees a few times a year. Knowing there are three other adults who love, care and support her is a powerful reminder that she matters in this world.