I enjoy a good bargain, which is why I often check out community rummage pages on social media. Usually, I see various items people in my area have for sale or services they have to offer, and sometimes individuals make announcements or advertise that they’re seeking something. Today I read a post written by a woman trying to help her struggling friend, a single, struggling divorced mom. She asked for donations of clothing for the mother and her children, and help to buy the kids glasses.
A few caring members of the page chimed in with helpful messages or inquiries about the sizes of clothing needed by the woman’s children. Most were sympathetic to the fact that the woman in need of help was down on her luck, then I saw his post. I’ll call him “Mr. Awesome.”
Mr. Awesome, who has obviously never had a bad day, an unfortunate turn of luck, or so much as a rainy day offered his two cents: “Not trying to be a jerk, but if she cannot afford to take care of herself, why keep having kids that are going to grow up without? These kids should just be taken from her. Feel so sorry for kids with irresponsible parents.”
Whoa! Too late, Mr. Awesome, you’re officially a jerk!
Who, besides the poor struggling divorced mom in the posting, knows the full story of what has brought her to her knees? Many of us, who have been through divorce, have found ourselves in similar situations. I recall worrying about how to pay the rent. I went without dinner so there would be enough food for my children. I shopped for clothes at thrift shops.
Fortunately, I landed back on my feet and don’t live as close to the edge anymore; but, was my struggle ‘irresponsible’ or cause to have my children removed from me? Hell no!
There is always a chance that the mother in question is a drug addict, abusive, or neglectful to her children. If she has done anything to endanger or harm her children, then we should be concerned for their welfare! However, who’s to say her hardship isn’t because of divorce or death of her spouse, a chronic illness, a job layoff, or other such calamity?
Bad things happen to good people all the time!
Does Mr. Awesome know that seven out of ten Americans are one missed paycheck away from homelessness (The American Aid Foundation)?
What about the facts that divorce forces one in five women into poverty, causes one in three women to lose their homes, and that 75% of women do not receive the full amount of child support they’re owed (The Law Corner)?
From up on his pedestal, can Mr. Awesome see that 6.8 million Americans are unemployed as of October 2017 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)?
Does he realize that poor people are more likely to become ill and illness is also a major contributor to poverty (World Bank)?
It’s really easy to judge and make assumptions about those we don’t know. Mr. Awesome even speculated that there’s no reason our struggling mama shouldn’t be able to make it because of “all the government hand-outs she surely receives.” According to his infinite wisdom, she should be living the high life with all the cash assistance, food stamps, childcare assistance, medical, and housing assistance she receives!
No one, besides the mother, knows what struggles she has endured or what resources she has available to her.
What a hard-on-her-luck struggling divorced mom does not need, however, is:
Judgment for who she is or what she’s been through. We don’t have to be bad or irresponsible to have rotten luck!
The expectation to explain her misfortune or account for her mistakes. Are any of us without fault?
Scrutiny for accepting help. Moms will do what must be done to make sure their kids are fed, clothed, safe, and healthy. Yes, there are jobs and other ways to make ends meet; but there are also often complications. A mother should never have to feel guilty for guaranteeing her children’s needs are met. She cannot always count on the economy, her health, her ex, and other factors to cooperate.
The Mr. Awesome’s of the world imposing their values on her without knowing one thing about her or her story. Maybe she’s responsible for her situation, and maybe she isn’t. The fact remains that it’s none of anyone else’s business, but it never hurts to be compassionate! While he may know nothing of hardship now, harshness towards those down on their luck can incite a nasty case of karma!
Instead of criticism, a single, struggling divorced mom needs:
A chance. Sometimes just one break is all it takes to get life back on course! Why not help her out with a tank of gas, by watching the kids, or by letting her know what a good job she’s doing and that someone believes in her?
Resources. Help her find her way to grants, educational opportunities, affordable housing, and other assistance. Charity isn’t necessarily a hand-out so much as a hand up. If she has the strength and focus to face another day, she can move mountains. She shouldn’t have to be weighed down with worry and debt!
Mentorship. Perhaps she needs training to better manage her finances or a coach to teach her how to succeed in her new circumstances? Teach her to fish, and she’s got this!
Help with what ails her. If she is suffering from physical or mental illness, addiction, or engages in truly irresponsible behaviors, she needs direction to get the support she needs to overcome her problems. Instead of being an audience to her destruction, let’s be a champion for her growth and improvement!
We’ll never be rid of the Mr. Awesome mentality, but hopefully we can eliminate the negative know-it-all attitude that enjoys condemning less fortunate people! Any of us who have been plagued with misfortune know that it’s unpleasant and difficult to overcome. A bad day doesn’t have to become a bad life; but, sometimes it takes compassion and people who actually are awesome to help pull a divorced mom in need out of a desperate situation!
Many women struggle after divorce, but is struggle the same thing as irresponsible?