De Rose playing with her son, Jack

I’m a Single Mom: Changing the Stigma

This JP Fargo-Moorhead mom is using her voice to uplift other single mothers—and encouraging single moms to work together for necessary systemic change.

Editor’s note: This piece by Jennifer De Rose was originally published on Fargo Mom and is republished here with permission. Read the original here.

I haven’t written in a while. For a long time, I felt like an imposter. Like I was trying to hide the truth of my own story while trying to focus on the positive in life and in my motherhood journey.

The truth is, I didn’t think I had anything of value to offer other moms.

I’m a single parent in transitional housing, studying for a Bachelor of Science degree. And despite my many efforts, I identify with others who are classified as living in poverty. Those are such loaded terms, ones I have been hiding from because of the stigma associated with them.

My Experience as a Single Mom: Getting Help

Part of my journey was living in a women’s shelter. It was one of the hardest experiences I have faced. Not only because of how I got there, but also being with other women and children whose lives were also in crisis.

I went there seeking help from those who worked there. But ultimately it was the women beside me who gave me the strength, emotional support, and resources to make it through that experience.

I was astonished at the amount of prejudice, racism, and double standards that were reinforced daily through the services and support I relied on.

Most shocking was the lack of empathy toward women whose lives had been thrown into turmoil. The things I have witnessed and stories I have heard from these women would make MAID seem like an easy, short-lived experience.

And while life is not always easy, it is good to remember that some have it harder than others.

Moms are at the center of what JP does. We know that trauma and systemic and structural inequities are woven through their realities as women experiencing poverty.

Finding My Way Through Community

Recently as part of the JP Mom Empowerment and Leadership Program, I was able to find my voice. I was able to reclaim my own sense of worth. Through this program, my cohort of amazingly strong moms (located across the U.S.) inspire me.

We understand each other’s struggles. And that is a powerful tool for transformation regarding our personal goals and aspirations.

A sense of community changed everything for me. I no longer feel alone and am proud to be a JP Mom. Together we are learning when we share our stories and actively work to fight against stigmas, that change can happen.

Overall, what I love and admire most about the program is that it opens up possibilities. Possibilities that can be hard to see when you are caught in a cycle of simply surviving day-to-day as a single mom.

Have Compassion for Others

No matter what your circumstances are, please keep in mind that we have no idea what other moms have gone through to get where they are today.

What we can each do for one another is to be kind, to provide a sense of dignity and worth to other moms. When we engage at the park, the store, or the school. If someone is having a bad day, we honestly have no idea the extent of their problems.

The next time you are out and about in the community remember this:

The woman at the cash register may be a mom working her hardest to regain her freedom, to create a better future for her children on her own with zero support.

The woman at the drive-through window may have survived a horrendous childhood, lost all those she loved most, yet found the strength to claim her sobriety.

Each of these women deserves the supportive services that are out there to help them. But also know that these same services don’t necessarily address the root issues preventing progress in life. And can oftentimes reinforce the problems that need solving.

JP provides the necessary support for moms to begin the path out of poverty, but moms themselves are the best architects of the solutions to their families’ challenges. And we’re positioning JP moms to be those architects, impacting not only their families but also their communities.

Help Promote Change for Yourself and Others

So if you are a mom looking for a positive, supportive community to transform your circumstances, you’re not alone. I encourage you to sign up for JP Mom.

For moms that are in a position to help drive change, please consider supporting organizations that elevate women and their children. Seek out organizations that listen to the people they serve. Organizations designed to end cycles and truly transform lives.

And for moms who work to serve underprivileged and low-income families, please take time to educate yourself on transformational leadership.

Together we can break the cycles, end the stigma of being a single mom, and open up new possibilities.

Jennifer De Rose, aka Jack’s mom, moved to Fargo in the summer of 2019 and spent the previous 10 years living abroad in China. She was an outdoor guide and educator for many years and more recently was the Executive Director of a small non-profit. Originally from a small rural Canadian town, she is passionate about the outdoors, education and the environment.

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