Finding Your Single Mom Tribe: The Right Support Group
Cheers was the record-breaking sitcom of the 80s and early 90s because it touched on what every single person wants: a place to belong. Your tribe accepts you, all of you. The hysterical laughter, the urgent crises and the ugly cries are all greeted with hugs, wine and lasting conversation. When you find the right single mom tribe, you know you are home.
But, finding your tribe as a single mom can be difficult as old friends just don’t have the space for the single lady among their couples’ nights or may take sides in the divorce equation. Taking the time to find the right support group is a game changer for single moms trying to rebuild their lives.
Looking for your single mom tribe? Consider these tips:
Deliberately Think About Who You Want and Need in Your Life
Think about the type of people you want in your life. Obviously, previous choices didn’t work out but don’t let emotional turmoil or confidence issues dictate the new people you bring into your life. This goes well beyond new love interests. For both your sake and your children’s, you must bring in people who lift you up, enhance your life and provide emotional support.
I can’t think of any other time in my life that felt as lonely as the first few years as a single mom. What made it so difficult is I felt that I should be stronger than succumbing to the problems associated with a man and my divorce. Isolation is an easy answer, but that really didn’t solve the problem. I needed people in my life and in my son’s life.
Find Like-Minded Moms That You Connect With
Seek out groups and people who share your core values. That doesn’t mean they need to think exactly like you on every subject; healthy disagreements are essential for growth. Look at the forest, not the trees when finding a tribe. You’ve already got enough on your plate. You don’t need to be banging your head against the wall with every conversation trying to explain yourself.
Crunchy moms might not do so well in a tribe of silky moms. The hiking tribe might be a bit different than the tennis club tribe. That isn’t to say you can’t be part of both or fit into very diverse categories, but don’t feel like you need to make yourself fit in.
I found my tribe when I became the PTA president of my son’s elementary school. The women I met inspired me. Some were single but most were happily married. We all had one thing in common: improving the lives of our kids. We volunteered together, had playdates together, had mom’s nights together. These women saved me in every way, many of which they will never know.
Desire to Be Challenged by Your Tribe to Grow
Moving on after divorce puts many challenges in front of us. It can seem odd to seek people who challenge you. Don’t overlook the value of a tribe that makes you think, forces you to consider and reconsider your actions. A great tribe does this in a way that makes you feel secure and loved the entire time.
It’s like challenging your children to step up and be better people. It comes from a place of love and is for the best. People who just “yes” you all the time aren’t really there to help you. You want friends and a tribe that calls you out for making bad decisions and tells you when you are wrong – especially when it comes to moving on.
I was lucky to find an online tribe of people overcoming divorce. It wasn’t strictly moms and had a very diverse age group. The wisdom of that group was seeded in the fact that some people were new on the path while others were farther down the road. Having a group that would listen when I needed to vent and then lovingly give me a reality check helped me take the next steps to healing and growth in your family life.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Meeting new people is never easy. Having to meet people while going through a very emotionally tumultuous time only makes it harder. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You need to step out of your comfort zone to avoid falling into the isolation trap. Even if you find a single mom support group that meets your needs, it can be scary to share yourself.
Lissa Rankin, MD points out that her, “ego had created this separation story that distanced [her] from the very belonging [she] craved.” We all have a preconceived picture of ourselves in our heads. Divorce can shatter or skew that extensively. Until we take out ego out of the picture, we will continue to struggle to find our tribe.
Don’t Worry About Kids’ Ages in the Tribe
Kids are funny when it comes to kids that aren’t their age. As parents and single moms, we want a group of people that mirror us. That doesn’t happen and your kids will be fine without it. Older kids often love being a big brother to smaller ones while the littles love to try to keep up. This isn’t always the case but it is good for your children to interact with other kids that can relate to their own feelings of isolation.
Through the PTA, my son met kids from all grade levels and was forced to work with them as the moms were working on volunteer tasks and activities. There were times all the kids hated being at school on non-school days, but for the most part, friendships formed. My son started thinking about activities we did and asking to invite PTA kids to do things with us.
Join Non-Mom Activities
While it is great to find a tribe that fits your everyday mom-lifestyle perfectly, this might not be what happens. In fact, you might have people who totally fit your tribe-mojo in unusual places. If there is something you always wanted to try, go for it. Even without experience, go for it. A new hobby or sports activity can yield to great connections.
You might join a gardening group, a book club or take a Salsa dance class. Mixing up your activities allows you to expand your support group as well. While I had my PTA moms as a core part of my tribe, I also spent time learning beadwork and jewelry making. It was a creative outlet that had nothing to do with being a mom or a single mom that made me feel like I was just another person in a class of women.
In-Person Versus Online Tribes
Many single moms find the greatest amount of support from people they may never meet in real life. The internet has opened up the world of interaction and helps more people find the right support. With that being said, don’t rely exclusively on online support groups. They are fantastic for finding your tribe who can collectively provide support, answers and advice. At the same time, making an online tribe your only tribe will lead to more isolation.
I’m still friends with many who were part of my original online tribe. This was before Facebook Groups become a thing and there were “forums” people went to. I’ve met some of the men and women from my old forum and still consider many friends and key influencers in my inner tribe.
It’s one of the reasons I’ve created the Single Mommy Tribe. A private support group with resources, advice and experience of others. No mom should ever feel alone because the truth is, you aren’t alone. Even those who remarry and move past being a single mom still feel a connection to those who are and are welcomed into the group to help show the rest of us that life gets better when we work on ourselves to heal.
I hope you find a tribe in your social circles and I encourage you to join the Single Mommy Tribe. You’re welcome here.
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