Single moms: How to protect your kids’ future

Universal Life Insurance Company

Universal Life Insurance Company (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

If you’re a single mom, whether divorced or never married, you’re likely always thinking about how to ensure the health and welfare of your child(ren) no matter what happens to you. The task of picking someone to become guardian is the first and most daunting one. What if you don’t have a friend or relative who’d want to do it—or who’d have the required patience and energy? Here are 7 big questions you need to consider when it comes to appointing a guardian for your kids.

Then there’s money. If you aren’t around anymore or become disabled and can’t earn an income, who’s going to finance the rearing of your kid(s)? Recent stats put the minimum amount to raise a child at $286,000, according to a CBS report on figures from the Department of Agriculture (huh? the DoA?). And the more money you make, the more you spend on rearing your child(ren) so if you’ve got money, that number could be substantially higher.

The cost of life insurance is not included in that hefty figure. Now I’ve not had any life insurance since the days I was married, so I’m not an expert on this topic. But I do know I wished many times that I could have afforded some. And I know that many sources I’ve checked over the years advised that term life insurance was the best type to invest in. That said, here’s an article that talks about the potential benefits of life insurance, either term or whole life, for single parents. It makes some good points. But consult other resources that aren’t affiliated with the insurance industry before you make a decision.

For myself it was a huge relief when my kids grew up and became independent. My daughters did have to put up with a lot because there was a divorce, but we are lucky. They’re both wonderful adults I’m proud to call my family. Be strong. Be creative. You can do it, single moms!

And don’t forget to congratulate yourself and all your single friends this July 29 through August 4—it’s Single Working Women’s Week again. Celebrate your courage and creativity. It’s a special time to be good to yourself and to all your single women friends.

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HuffPost author tells single women: “don’t be so picky”

Yesterday I followed a Google News alert link to an article telling single working women how to increase their chances of getting a partner. I definitely wanted to express an opinion about the article, but when I tried to write this as a comment on the column itself, after multiple frustrating tries, it simply didn’t allow me to post my comment. So I’m writing here on SWWAN.

Holly Sidell, author of the Huff Post Women section, does tend to write about dating, so you might expect this sort of thing. But still I was surprised to find her suggesting that some impliedly-significant percentage of women are “still” single because they’re too picky. She writes about how she decided to negotiate her “deal breakers” (I can’t be with anyone who…) with her latest flame and how she has now found love. She then suggests that perhaps if other women would do the same with their deal breakers, they, too, might find the perfect mate. My thoughts:

A) Seems wrong to write as if being paired up is the state to which all women aspire. Not every woman feels that way.

B) Regardless of  what boundaries a woman creates, it seems just as reasonable to assume that deal-breakers become negotiable not when you randomly decide to negotiate them, but when the circumstances fit and the feelings between the two people are strong enough to allow, or even compel, them to work such things out.

That’s one thing I don’t enjoy: lectures about ways to get un-single.

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Why is it so hot? How to cool yourself down

Heat, smog, sweat

Heat, smog, sweat

How’s the weather by you? We are having record-breaking heat for March in Chicago and over most of the Central and Midwest U.S. When it’s 73 degrees at 9:30 at night, you’re talking the middle of summer. Uh, excuse me, we just celebrated St. Patrick‘s Day.

Something is seriously wrong here.

A few folks have some stats and ideas as to why it’s happening. The American Thinker says high-temperature records are being set all over the country—66 degrees at midnight in International Falls, MN, known as the country’s Icebox. That’s 6 degrees higher than the city’s previous record. Read more about this incredible 2012 winter heat wave.

I live in a wonderful seniors building, but sadly they have an HVAC system that can only be one thing or the other—heat or air conditioning. And a city ordinance says they must provide heat until May 15—no matter how hot it gets. And because of how my apartment is situated, I get zero breeze when the windows are open. So I can tell you it’s stifling in here.

Found a really thorough article on WikiHow that describes a bunch of ideas for how to cool yourself down without air conditioning. I like that a lot of these ideas involve creative uses of tap water.

And here’s another one. If you have a significant other, avoid the body heat and sleep in separate beds. That’s one we singles usually don’t have to worry about!

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British stars surprise on Intl Women’s Day

Български: Джуди Денч на церемонията по връчва...

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It’s a strange video. British film star Daniel Craig, better known as the latest James Bond hero, walks solemnly up to the camera while Dame Judi Dench, known as M in those Bond films, describes the ways in which women are not yet remotely “equal.”

Then she asks if you don’t believe it, “What if you were a woman?” and slowly a blonde-bewigged Bond girl walks up to the camera. As Dench continues speaking, the blonde slowly removes the wig and reveals her/himself as Craig in drag. Dramatic way to point out the significance of the 100th annual International Women’s Day.

For those of you too young to remember, I was reminded  of the good-natured 1974 commercial when New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath sported a pair of pantyhose. While it was encouraging women to wear that brand—and Namath was demonstrating his own considerable sense of humor—this celebrity spot certainly wasn’t making any political statements.

Turn up the volume and listen to the Craig-and-Dench reminder that we women still have a long way to go. Good for you, Daniel and Judi. Just like SWWAN, you’re out to raise awareness.

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Singles: Loving life–but paying more!

Robie House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), ...

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I’m a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s work. He designed some of the world’s most unique architectural designs back in the early 20th century—a time when thinking out of the box was still unusual—and his work has survived the test of time. He lived in Chicago for a while, and there’s an active preservation society here. My sister and I visited his studio out in Oak Park a few weeks ago and enjoyed it immensely.

Today I received the below inviting me to attend a 4-day tour of Wright’s works on the North Shore. And I was sad to see—as Bella DePaulo has often pointed out—that singles pay more for the privilege of participating in this tour. Since the price for the tour is all-inclusive, how would the tour operators make more money from people doubling up in rooms? Is it because the hotel might not have enough rooms if too many demanded single rooms?

In any case, the “single room supplement” (see the last line below) equals an increase of more than 13% in the price. Hmmm. Anyone out there get paid 13% extra for your work because you’re single?

Ultimate Plus℠ Package

Extend the magic of Wright Plus to a unique long-weekend experience, including accommodations. Immerse yourself in six spectacular events in four unforgettable days.


  • Invitation-only Chairman’s Reception in the spectacular lobby of Chicago’s Rookery Building, and Private Tour of the Burnham Library.
  • Private Passage to Wright’s North Shore, a delightful all-day excursion with a tour of privately owned Wright-designed homes located in Chicago’s exclusive North Shore neighborhood. Ultimate Plus Exclusive.
  • The celebrated Wright Plus Housewalk. You will enjoy a Housewalk Fast Pass – allows immediate access to all Housewalk homes. No waiting in lines.
  • A private lunch and lecture exclusively for Ultimate Plus guests on the day of the housewalk.
  • Exclusively Wright Dinners, private dining at an exquisite Wright-designed home.
  • A gourmet breakfast at the hotel and a private tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick C. Robie House.
  • Three nights’ accommodation in a deluxe room (double occupancy) at the historic Carleton of Oak Park, Official Hotel of Wright Plus 2012. Includes welcome basket.
  • Transportation to and from all events as well as a Sunday drop-off at Chicago’s O’Hare airport (directly from Frederick C. Robie House Tour).

Ultimate Plus Weekend Package: Purchase Tickets Now

$2350 FLWPT member; $2600 non-member
Single room supplement: $325

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Singles: loving, fearless and free

Saw a great quote today in my HeartMath daily dose:

“The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be.” ~ Dalai Lama

Gendun Drup, 1st Dalai Lama

Image via Wikipedia

A beautiful thought, indeed. When you listen closely to someone else’s problems, when you respond thoughtfully, when you express understanding without judging or telling them what to do, that’s love at work.

When you respond to a political situation by getting all the facts and looking at both sides before you react, making sure your sources are as unbiased as possible, that’s love at work.

Too many people assume that if a single woman lives alone, she doesn’t love. How wrong that is! There is ample documentation that shows the exact opposite. Singlism expert, Bella DePaulo, says “research shows single people are more connected to friends, siblings, parents, neighbors” than marrieds. Which only makes sense. Human beings are social creatures. When you don’t have just a single person with whom you live and share your life, you’re more likely to reach out to others.

Women in particular tend to create communities of friends, relatives, coworkers, and others to whom they can turn to relax, go adventuring, describe frustrations and joys, discuss ideas and just generally share their lives.

Single men, thanks to powerful strains of homophobia in our society, are a little less likely to develop a strong community of fellow males. But some men have no fear of that kind of judgment and simply go forth, sharing time with male friends, attending men’s groups, and so on.

The point: as love grows, so do our hearts. And as we single women continually reach out with love to others, we also tend to feel more fearless and free—and often look that way to others. I like that idea. ” )

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Help for Chicago singles caring for aging relatives

Nursing Home

Nursing Home (Photo credit: LOLren)

How many single women (or men) are eventually entrusted with caring for aging parents? Nobody’s got hard statistics, but I’ve read of many cases where the single relative is simply expected to do so, since it would be “too much trouble” for the married couple to have that interference in their lives. The single person is assumed to have no life because she or he is not sharing a home with another person.

Well, we all know how untrue that is. See previous post about the joy and activity in most single lives. But anyway, if you are the one who has to look for a long-term care facility for an aging relative, at least in the Chicago area you’ve got a trustworthy way to tell if a facility is high-quality or not. It’s an online service called Gunther’s Grades where you can find reviews of facilities by real people just like you. You can also write your own reviews to help others understand better how their loved one will be treated in a particular place.

Read more about Gunther’s Grades on my Chicago Lady Boomer Examiner column.

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Joy among singles? Author surprised


Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a good one. A man who started out writing a book about how sad it was to find old people living alone who died in heat waves, found something else during his research. He found instead, in much greater proportion than sadness, joyful independence and happy social lives among people of all ages who live alone.

Of course that doesn’t shock members of SWWAN—after all, that’s what we are all about! But it will cause raised eyebrows among some people who read this review, and may bring up a certain acrimony among others. Check out the remark from one of the commenters about how Sweden “may have the highest rate of people living alone but it’s also got the highest suicide rate.” And then another commenter who snappily corrects her with more accurate references.

I agree with how right he is that the rise of women’s ability to support themselves and the incredible freedom and connectivity they now have as a result of access to the Internet have been huge factors in this phenomenon.He also notes that having greater numbers of singles in cities has a powerful revitalizing effect on the cities themselves—as single people tend to go out more and to enjoy cultural and other amenities in significantly greater numbers than marrieds do.


Image by Erik van Ravenstein via Flickr

I love having my own apartment. Love having a single friend on the same block. Love my privacy. Love my computer and the Internet. Love my single life. Here’s to the day all of society catches up to the reality.

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Book review: Singlism – Proof positive it’s rampant

days Elena Kagan since 2010

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Did you know you pay more for most things in our society just because you’re single? Are you aware of the tax disadvantages you live with because you’re single?

Did you realize that single women—even accomplished, high-profile single women like Elena Kagan, the 112th Supreme Court Justice—are often subjected during interviews to intrusive questioning about their dating life and their feelings or intentions about marriage and children, that single men almost never encounter?

And OMG, I am freaking out. I just realized something. As I’m writing this post Zemanta, which is a very cool service that scans the words you’re writing and brings up various “related” images you can use in your blog posts, brought up the picture you see at right of Elena. However, most of the other images it called up are pictures of mental health institutions.

What in the world do Zemanta software writers (probably mainly young men as most software writers are) think a mental health institution has to do with being single?

Bella DePaulo, who writes the Living Single column for Psychology Today, would love it. In the newest book she edited, Singlism, which holds a compendium of posts on singlism from her PT blog, you can enjoy the unshakeable logic, solid research, and pithy comments with which she skewers the many instances she finds of the stereotyping and prejudice singles endure. She also edited the brief contributions from others who write with enlightened voices about singles issues.

DePaulo actually coined the word singlism when she first began to realize the stigmatizing that goes on, and she wrote her first book Singled Out. I like the format of the new book—short items, quick reading, hard-hitting. It’s a good one to keep on hand in case you want a quick reference to keep you fired up.

After all, it took women being fired up for more than hundred years to finally win the vote.

P.S. In one of her posts, DePaulo laments the fact that marriage is the occasion for out-of-control gift buying. Yeah, and anniversaries, too. Not to promote the idea that singles should become avid gift-hoarders, but hey, that’s one of the reasons we created Single Working Women’s Week, and now Single Working Women’s Day (August 4). So mark your calendar for next year and either buy a single friend something you know she’d love, or give her the gift of time and energy—cook her a dinner, take out her garbage, babysit her pet, whatever.  But celebrate!

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The power of forgiving

“When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.”

– Alan Paton

Sexually Abused child.

Image via Wikipedia

What a thought.  I love and believe the idea that it is within our power to heal ourselves. But when I think of terrible injuries such as torture, child abuse, sexual abuse, and the double-edged trauma of war—which inflicts not only the receiving of terribly injury but the giving of it—it’s harder to paint with that brush.

Yet what else is there? Many of the greatest minds have said, forgive thine enemies. A pop song puts it this way, Forgive Thine Enemies–But Don’t Forget Their Names. That’s it, I guess. Forgiving does not mean you have to be naive about evil and hatred. It just means you have to stop blaming.

I remember how hard that was for me to do sometimes after my marriage ended during all the times my ex refused to pay child support (and because he was a lawyer he got away with it).

And in contrast, something so small compared to rape or murder can still charge my feelings. I remember how hard it was for me to forgive after an occasion when a nasty, road-raging driver attacked my car with his van after we’d both spent a frustrating 15 minutes on a one-lane road behind an old man who drove consistently under the speed limit.  The van driver raced around me into the right-turn only lane at one light and aimed his vehicle directly at my right front fender. He smashed it into the wheel and tore my bumper off as he slammed to a stop in front of me.  I thought he was going to have a gun in his hand when he got out, slammed his door and came stomping towards my car.

Then, after I’d reported it to the police, and the body repair shop said to me there’s no way this could have happened except someone driving directly into your car, that van driver blithely told his insurance company he hadn’t the vaguest idea how this accident occurred. Tried to tell them maybe I’d been pulling into the right turn lane and ran into him.

I had a hard time even getting on a highway for months after that—the terror that some other maniac might deliberately plow into me. And seriously, it took me almost of year of working at it to truly forgive that injury. I’d have flashbacks. You see how the details are still so vivid in my mind? Just think how it must be for some deep personal violation of your spirit or your body.

I reviewed a book once by a man who’d been held as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp during WWII. It was a horrendous accounting of physical and mental torture that went on day and night for a couple of years. It must have been somewhat cathartic to write about it, but he said all he could hold onto was his story of what he’d been through.

Can we forgive an injury of any magnitude? For anyone who’s suffered torture, there are agencies and organizations that can help. What about your parents? A lot of us could use some balance there. Here’s a

P yin yang

Image via Wikipedia

beautiful idea from a soulful colleague and supporter of SWWAN, Cat Thompson:

Hola amigos!  Can you believe summer has so quickly left the building?  Yet according to the Chinese Five Element calendar, fall is half over this weekend.  Yup, this friday is equinox, that magical time when the planet’s energy shifts direction, and the light and dark are perfectly equal.  It’s a great time to do ceremonies for healing the masculine/feminine.  A great little ceremony I learned from one of my earliest teachers was to balance the Mother/Father within myself.  He said, “it doesn’t matter if your parents are still married, hate each other, love each other, divorced, whatever.  What matters is that you are made up of each of them.  And if they are out of balance, you are out of balance.”  I came home and made a shrine for my inner parents.  Inside a heart shaped box, I put a picture of my parents when they were dating, one of each of them looking across the box at each other.  I added some stones (rose quartz for the heart) and an engagement ring I had sitting around (from a marriage that never manifested!).  I also added some beautiful ribbon and paper to the box.  It sits in my partnership corner of the bagua of my bedroom.  Even if your parents are still happily married, creating a shrine to their love within your own heart will go a long way to balancing the yin and yang of your life.

Cat’s a true teacher. Enjoy her Fall Equinox newsletter.

Even if you’re not ready yet, it can’t hurt to hear what others think about how much forgiving can change your life. Here’s a list of the ten best books on forgiveness. Check them out at your library.

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