1. Parenting

How to Build a Support System as a Single Parent

Find Sources of Help and Support in Your Area

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Two women washing dishes together.

Having a support system makes even the little things easier.

Photo © Jupiterimages/Getty Images

Being self-sufficient means being able to do it all on your own, without help from anyone. But is that realistic? The most successful people I know rely on others for support, from parents who are willing to babysit, to friends who are willing to teach you how to fix the toilet in a jam. But when you're doing it all on your own, it can be hard to even imagine how to build a support system for yourself and your kids.

Let's take a quick inventory of the people around you who may be able to help. In many cases, the people who come to mind will be able to point you in the direction of another resource, even if they aren't able to help themselves.

  1. Who Do You Trust?
    If you had to leave your kids with someone right now, who would you call? The answer provides a pretty good indication of who you trust. Most likely, this list will include family members who live nearby, as well as your closest friends and neighbors.

  2. Who is Skilled in Your Area of Need?
    These are people who may either be able to help you directly, or put you in touch with other people who may be able to help. (For example, a financial planner you know from church might be able to put you in touch with a reputable organization that could provide credit counseling.)

  3. Who Do You Respect or Hold in High Regard?
    There might be people in your life who you don't know very well, but who you have a lot of respect for. These individuals might be excellent sources of help.

  4. Who Do You Know or Whom Can You Contact From Your Child's School? From Your Work?
    There are people with whom you come into contact regularly who might be able to help. Consider your child's teachers, principal, the nurse, or the school guidance counselor. Also, consider your co-workers, your supervisor, and even your human resources office.

  5. Who in the Community Might Be Able to Help?
    Is there a church or synagogue nearby you can call? How about a YMCA? These organizations might be able to put you in contact with other community-based help organizations that can assist you. Your local phone book can also help you think of organizations in your area to add to your growing support network.

  6. What Government Help Might Be Available to You?
    To find out whether you qualify for assistance, go to: www.govbenefits.gov or check your local phone book for a listing of government agencies in your area.

Guess what?
You've begun to build a support system. Start contacting these individuals and organizations as soon as possible to share your need. Even if they can't help you themselves at this time, they may be able to point you in the direction of others who can.

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