DEAR JOHN: Jobless, scared and sad
Dear John, What I was afraid of has finally happened. I have been laid off. As I told you before, I am a single mother with three children at school. My daughter and one son are at secondary school and my last boy is sitting the 11-Plus this year.
Their fathers do not support them. Neither my daughter’s father nor the father of the two boys gives me anything to help support the children. Life is rough and I am scared of the future if I do not get back a job soon. I have a few dollars in savings, but that is not much and with no money coming in I do not know what to do.
I have to pay rent, feed and clothe the children and send them to school. My parents are getting on in age and I do not want to go back with my children to live in the family house with them.
Also, my sister runs a small business which is not doing very well nowadays.
John, I am not sure what I can do or how to climb this mountain which is now before me. Please give me some advice to point me in a direction where I can go.
LAID OFF AND SCARED
DEAR LAID OFF,
Do not be scared. There are hundreds of others who are in a similar position. All is not lost. You will have to make some firm decisions and some major adjustments to your lifestyle. Consider carefully the following actions:
(1) Swallow your pride and approach these irresponsible fathers to help with the support of the children. Get attorneys to deal with them. Remember, you did not get the children alone so you are not a single mother. You are an unmarried mother but not a single parent.
(2) Sit the children down and explain to them fully the circumstances under which they are living. Show them the amount of money you have and the cost of maintaining the family lifestyle. Make sure they understand everything: rent, food, utilities, clothing, toiletries, accessories, television, transport, and so on.
(3) Let the children help you make the adjustments. Guide them wherever necessary. You may have to avoid fast food restaurants, cancel subscription television, discontinue cellphone usage and reduce pocket money to a bare minimum. Where a chicken once served one meal make it serve three times by using pelau and chowmein and soup.
(4) Discuss with your parents the possibility of returning to the family house at least for a year while you make your adjustments. If you do this, pay the utilities and make some direct assistance to the old folks’ upkeep.
(5) If you have any hobby see if you can develop it into an income generating activity. Cooking, dressmaking or whatever skill you have.