5 Major Life Lessons I Learned As A Widowed Single Mom

A perspective on motherhood and self, made clearer by the sudden loss of a husband.

Last updated on May 09, 2024

Single mother on scooter with a little boy, laughing Gustavo Fring | Unsplash

Single moms are not a one-size-fits-all group. Some are parenting alone by choice, some without an active co-parent, some are co-parenting, and others because of the death of a co-parent.

I fell into the last group. I found myself parenting our two boys alone after my husband died. I learned some lessons you might find helpful as you walk down the path of being a single mom.

Five life lessons I learned when I became a widowed single mom 

1. You are enough, even on your own.

I don't know about you, but I often had doubts about parenting my children on my own. I felt that I was missing a critical element — the father!


Well, even if you're missing that element, know you will be enough to give your children what they need. It's similar to when you lose one sense, the other senses become heightened. Don't doubt your ability to parent. Know for certain you have what it takes to successfully parent your children.

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2. You must nurture yourself in the process.

Women are notorious for taking care of others, and we often feel best when helping others, particularly our children. However, the flip side of that strength is we often forget to take care of ourselves and don't even recognize when our energy gets depleted.

This leads to exhaustion and an inability to parent the way we'd like to parent. You are the center of your family. Being strong so you can take care of everyone else is part of the job.

It isn't selfish to prioritize your own needs. It's smart because the stronger you are, the more you can do for your children.

Mother with baby is a truly incredible single mom fizkes via Shutterstock


3. You need to provide good adult role models.

Make sure there are responsible adults in their lives. I'm not talking about going out to find a replacement father (or mother). They didn't need that. 

I'm talking about the men who were already in their lives: aunts and uncles, grandparents, teachers, coaches, and friends. I made sure they had plenty of time with strong, caring men so they could — by osmosis — learn what being a wonderful man is all about.

Don't surround your children with transient partners. You may not want someone you've only known a few months to spend alone time with any of your children. Choose consistent role models you have come to know, trust, and respect over time.

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4. It's unfair to treat every child the same.

This is a lesson I learned from an important man in my life. I had two boys who were constantly competing with each other for absolutely everything. I spent a great deal of my time and energy trying to keep everything equal for the two of them, and they still weren't satisfied.

My friend helped me to see that treating all your children the same is the most unfair thing you can do. Children are not the same. They have individual differences that will necessitate different treatment at times.

You don't want to create favoritism, but there will be times when some children get to do, have, or be something others cannot. And that is most fair.

5. Use empowerment parenting skills.

Empowerment parenting is a method of parenting based on choice theory psychology, which explains why and how people do what they do. When you understand yourself and each of your children, you will be better able to manage those day-to-day challenges, as well as those big issues that come up from time to time.


When I was parenting with my husband, he was the strict one, and I was the permissive one. This worked out all right because we balanced each other. When he was no longer there, I couldn't remain the pushover parent and raise responsible young men.

I had to find the middle ground. Empowerment parenting is that middle ground that allows you, the parent, to get what you need while teaching your children responsible ways to get their needs met without hurting them in the process.

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Kim Olver is the author of Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life.