Notes From A Single Mom: Sometimes a Little Change Will Do You Good

Lynn Armitage

A few years ago, my two daughters and I left Orange County, California, where I lived for 23 years, and moved up to a quiet, small town in Northern California. I wrestled with my conscience countless nights, wondering if I was doing the right thing, whether it was fair to my daughters to uproot them from a place that they called home all their lives, a place where they both had a gaggle of good friends.

It was a pivotal moment in the life of this single mother. If I made the wrong decision, no one would be accountable for it but me.

I was especially concerned about moving my teenager, who was on the brink of turning 16 and would be a junior in high school. Would she be able to adapt and make new friends?

Lynn ArmitageLooking back, I realize that I did the right thing by moving up here with my children. Not only are we surrounded by my extended family, but my teenager told me something the other day that gave me a renewed appreciation for our new home.

She told me that a number of the kids who she hung out with in Orange County—girls who she had known since middle school—are now into drinking and drugs, and a few of them are sleeping around with boys. This was my daughter's pack! Her she-wolves. The girls she spent the night with, met at the mall and sunbathed next to on the beach. Girls who had a tremendous influence on her in her adolescent years.

I have to wonder: Had we stayed down in Southern California, would my teenager be involved in the same "extracurricular" activities? Hard to say. I'd like to think that I infused some morals and ethics into her, that given the choice between doing drugs and not doing them, that she would choose to say, "No, thanks." But peer groups can have a powerful impact on teenagers. I'm really not sure what the outcome would have been.

Yes, teens are pretty much the same everywhere. Drugs, drinking, sex and rude behavior are part of the teen culture no matter where you live. But trust me, the kids up here are A LOT nicer, a little more naiive and way more wholesome.

And that's just fine with me.

There are plenty of years ahead for her to be tempted by these vices. No need to rush into it. She's only 16, and there's nothing wrong with her holding onto her innocence a little bit longer.

As far as I'm concerned, it wasn't a move we made a few years back. It was a rescue.

Freelance writer Lynn Armitage is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. She also writes the “Spirit of Enterprise” column for ICTMN.

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Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
I agree with you that you did rescue your daughter. I like the innocence, naive, and wholesome words too. I wish there was some place I could've taken my daughter. I fought against her "so-called" friends, and even her friends parents who allowed their children to get involved with drugs, drinking, and sleeping around, the parents thinking that this is/was the thing to do. I say 'so-called' friends because one night she snuck off with them in my car, joy riding, drinking, when they got picked up by the police they all left her. Don't get me wrong its not like I isolated her, I trusted her to go to school events, dances, games, etc. then one night I went to go pick her up and she left with these 'friends'. "WHY?" because she said they were "fun". Again those 'fun friends' were the kind she had never been around before, and again they just left her. One parent even came to see me and told me that I should my child go out. I told that woman she had some nerve coming into my home, telling me how to raise my daughter. AND that if she wants her girls to live that lifestyle that was up to her. Then I told that other parent/woman to "GET OUT." After years of telling my daughter not to go that way, now she FINALLY understands why I said I don't want you to do that. She is only is her early 20's but already some of her high school friends have died from alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, car crashes, etc.

kristin's picture
Submitted by kristin on
I'd be interested in knowing about where you went in Northern California. I'm a single mom with a 15 year old girl and 13 year old boy who wants to relocate to northern california to a small quaint town with good schools. We will be leaving Chicago and the midwest, but we want a change and I have a sister in San Fran with no family here in chicago. Suggestions? I would greatly appreciate them.