Single parents balance education, family life

Some students at Missouri Southern are faced with the dueling role of trying to achieve a higher education while raising families. Even more challenging, some are doing it alone.

Sandra Rogers, freshman undecided major and divorced parent of one, said it was hard readjusting to school. Being a non-traditional student, having a job and being a single parent, Rogers said she found herself under constant stress.

Rogers said she was so busy that when she finally quit her job it would surprise her son when she would do simple things like sit and watch movies with him without falling asleep.

“It was exhausting,” she said. “It affected my son because I would get cranky with him.”

Rogers, like other single parents, said she found it frustrating not to be able to give her child the time he needed with her.

Tammy Peters, junior English major, said sometimes she feels guilty because she feels as though she should be spending her study time with her three and five year old sons.

Determined to make the best out of the situation, Peters found a way to incorporate her children into her studies.

“My son thinks its cool that I’m learning Spanish,” she said. “I try to find Spanish children’s stories so I can learn while helping my children.”

Others find it just as difficult to share parental responsibilities.

Chris Turner, senior business management major, works in the morning so that his son’s mother can work in the evenings.

While he points out that he and his son’s mother have their differences, Turner said he tries to stay positive for his one-year-old son whom he refers to as his “pride and joy”.

“It’s hard not seeing him enough,”

he said.

Turner said his day starts at five in the morning with him working until noon, going to track practice until six o’clock, and then spending what’s left of the day with his son. He only attends classes two days a week in order to maintain this routine.

” I have no time for anything,” he said “Sometimes I try to study if I have any energy left.”

However, Turner said he has learned good time management because of his situation.

Dale Voight-Catlin, counselor at the Student Support Services, said she takes a personal interest in the social structures that make people thrive.

Voight-Catlin became a single parent when she lost her husband in a car accident while they were both in college. She was pregnant with their third child at the time.

Although Voight-Catlin said she had a strong support system behind her, she understands that others are not always so fortunate.

“There’s the emotional turmoil with being in school, feeling guilty because moms feel like they have to push their kids aside, and no time to sleep,” she said.

Catlin said the Student Support Center provides counseling if single parents need it.

“The counseling involves having someone listen to your story and to encourage you,” she said. “I try to help people connect with things in the community that can be helpful to them.”

Rogers said the university could use a bigger child care facility to help those trying to better themselves or some type of alternative solution.

“I called the Child Development Center here on campus,” she said “There was a really long waiting list and if they are going to give single parents the grants to go to school there are some other things that need to fall into place also.”

Amber Tankersley, Director of the Child Development Center said there is only a certain number of children that can be enrolled in the classes based on state ratios. She also said the room sizes dictate how many children can be enrolled.

Despite the obstacles that some degree seeking single parents face, some agree that it all works out for the best.

Rogers said there were times when she wanted to give up, but her son was what made her continue to strive for success.

“If I quit what will he think,” she said. “I had to do it to motivate my son.”

Peters offers single parents one piece of advice she deems important to persevere.

” I’m setting a good example,” said Peters.” Basically you just have to discipline yourself.”