A photo of the author sitting on her father's lap at her birthday party.

Raising Yourself While Parentless

By Leah Briggs
Blog Content Contributor

Walking across the Texas State campus, I can’t help but recall my first time here. It was for orientation four years ago and I was a nervous wreck. I had been having the best summer of my life and I couldn’t believe that college and moving and the future were so imminent. I felt like a little kid. That feeling only intensified as I sat through the panels at orientation and looked around me at all the other kids with their parents taking notes on financial aid and dorm information and dining hall packages. It was one of the loneliest feelings of my life and I kept wishing that my dad was there to help me through it.

The author as a small girl gives the camera a sassy stare as her mother holds her.
The look on my face says it all. Photo by Leah Briggs.

The reality though was that I was alone, no matter how much I disillusioned myself to believe that I had parental help or advising. Though I lived with my dad and had a good relationship with my mom who lived out of the state, neither were involved at all in the college process. They hadn’t been from the beginning of senior year or any time in high school, so I had told myself I could do it on my own when the truth was that I didn’t feel I could. I broke down at orientation and I didn’t return to Texas State until January of this year, alone, with no help from my parents.

The thing about parents is that everyone comes from them but not everyone has them. A parent can be in your life but not offer any guidance, support or encouragement like a parent typically would. For those out there who know what I’m talking about, this is for you. It took me years to come to terms with being parentless. Sometimes I still have issues with it. Overall though, it’s been helpful for my mental well-being to accept this and deal with it and life has only gotten better because of it.

If you’re just now realizing you’re parentless, the first step is definitely realizing you are not alone. Just because your parent is not in your life doesn’t mean that others aren’t. There are and always will be others in your life who care about you, love you, and who will help you when you need it. Whether it be teachers, siblings, aunts or friends, there is always someone who will be there for you. They may not be there for you in the way a parent would but that leads me to my next tip. You must be your own parent. Yep, you. You must parent yourself, you must guide yourself, you must encourage yourself when no one else will. You’re probably doing this already, so the only difference is that you won’t have a parent’s ‘unconditional’ and objective love to fall back on if you’re having a rough day.

Advocating for yourself is another key step in accomodationg yourself to a parentless lifestyle. Whatever a parent would do for you, you must do for yourself. From health insurance to financial aid to taxes, it’s up to you to learn about these things and do what you need to do to be a functioning adult, as scary as that sounds to all us big little kids out there. However if you don’t advocate for yourself with things like this you could be setting yourself up for failure or fines or stress, all of which are unnecessary if the proper steps are taken. Your parent won’t be there to remind you to do any of this so it really is up to you, and if you want yourself to succeed you should do everything in your power to make that happen. Mommy and Daddy won’t be there to push you to do it.

My last and final step is to put you first. I’ve tried to maintain relationships with my parents but sometimes it gets too difficult for one reason or another and I have to cut them off– and that’s okay. I have to put my mental well-being first and sometimes that’s the only way. Make sure you do what’s best for you in these delicate and tumultuous relationships with your parents and don’t let them guilt you. They’re free to make their own choices with their lives and so are you. Everyone is only trying to do what is best for themselves even if it’s painful for the other. Stay strong, stay present, stay mindful. Life without parents can be sad and lonely but it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. It can also be empowering and uplifting and that more than anything should keep you going.

 

Featured photo by Leah Briggs.

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