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“It takes people to recognize the need, step forward, and meet it.” Unfortunately, not every parish or diocese will or can be as accommodating as Leandra’s, nor can all single parents find the time to attend support groups. When Rob Mendoza, a father of four from Pittsburgh, Pa., lost his wife, Debbie, in 2009 after a grueling three-year battle with cancer, there was no support group at his parish.
But there was a solid network of Catholic family, friends and neighbors to whom he could turn.
“I feel a lot of pressure,” said Fallon, “ I keep asking myself, ‘Why can’t I do this? We don’t think of it as being terribly difficult because so many people do it.” At Leandra’s parish, single parents have the opportunity not only to share those struggles, but also learn how others have dealt with them in the past.
That opportunity, Leandra said, is an invaluable aid in managing the stress of single parenting.
“See the needs and make sincere offers of help — that’s the best thing anyone can do for single parents,” she concluded.
“My first response was, ‘That can’t be true,’” Leandra told Our Sunday Visitor.
“But then I looked into it, and sure enough, she was right.
More than anything else, however, support groups, such as the one at Leandra’s parish, offer single parents the opportunity to talk about the various struggles they face bringing up children alone.
Those struggles range from decision-making (“Decisions are much harder when you’re the only one with a vested interest in the outcome,” Walker told OSV) and dating (“How do you find the time, let alone the emotional energy for the ups and downs of a relationship, when you’re raising seven kids?
Along with his co-workers, friends from his parish, his children’s Catholic school, and his Catholic alma mater came together during his wife’s illness and long afterward, supplying the family’s meals, transportation for the children, and the moral support Mendoza needed to parent on his own.