Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 21, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
22 -THE LETHiBIOOe HERALD Friday, February 21, 197.. HICK ERVIN pholo Youngest participant Tammy Josephson, 9, of Brandon, Man., adjusts her skates prior to a practice session at the Sports- plex. Tammy, who turned nine last October, is not only the youngest figure skater participating in the Canada Winter Games, she is also the youngest con- testant attending from anywhere in the country. Tammy has been skating for three years and likes all aspects of the sport. WP sponsoring Women's Year exhibit Mar. 8 International Women's Day is March 8 at least in Lethbridge it is. The Women's Place is spon- soring a series of displays and activities March 8 at Centre Village Mall to promote awareness of International Women's Year and its furthering women's equalfty in all areas of society. The WP is working with a number of women's groups in the community to stage the mall display. Jean Kuijt and Eudena Luther will provide a free day care service in the shopping centre concourse, using toys and equipment from the Observation nursery project; films will be shown on a varie- ty of topics of interest to women; books about women and Herslory 1975, a Canadian women's calendar, will be on sale. The YWCA and the Birth Control and Information Centre have also indicated they will participate in the International display. WP Co-ordinator Jo Ann Darricades and Board Member Jo Staddon says Lethbridge and area women's organizations have been in- vited to participate in the dis- play by providing literature or members to promote their ac- tivities. "We've sent out about 30 letters to women's says Ms. Staddon. "But if there's anyone we didn't con- tact who'd like to participate, we can arrange it easily, if they call us as soon as possible. ALONEAGAIN: -Tlic Herald- F amity means revision of lifestyle Under the right circumstances, divorce can be the best thing that ever happened to a person. Not that the divorce or separation should be regarded as desirable solutions to personal problems or an' 'easy out' of bad situations, says Rosemary Piquette, president of the Lethbridge Parents Without Partners club. But it can be the' source of a complete change in lifestyle, a total revision of one's, outlook. "Separation can provide a real oppor- tunity to take control of your life, if you look at it in the right says Ms. Pi- quette. "It can give you the chance to get to know yourself and your children thoroughly, a chance you may not have in many marriages." Ms. Piquette speaks from experience- Separated herself, she often talks to newly separated people who want a shoulder to lean on temporarily. She's the perfect ex- ample of a well adjusted woman who's discovered herself and likes what she's found. She works part time and enjoys the flexible hours which enable her to spend more time with her young daughter. And she's working toward a degree, taking three courses at the University of Lethbridge. "Things are working very she says. "I have a proper mix of work, educa- tion and play in my life right now." Still listed in the Community Services Directory, PWP is now unofficially dis- banded. But whenever anyone calls, Ms. Piquette will suggest community resources available to them. She believes there's still a need for an organization such as PWP and says the group may be resurrected if enough people are willing to become active. An international organization, PWP operates for single parents seeking educa- tion useful to both themselves and their children. "Right after a relationship splits up, people's primary need is to talk to someone who's been through says Ms. Piquette. "They need to hear from people who've weathered the storm and know its not the end of the world. Funny, but when you're first separated, you tend to think nothing like this ever happened to anyone else before." Suddenly finding themselves 'single', people may feel sorry for themselves, may feel they're worthless, they've failed or that life has no meaning, says Ms Pi- quette. "Men are very lost she adds. "But it's harder for women because they usual- ly have custody of the children, have financial problems and often don't have skills or training to get into the job market or earn a decent wage." During its strongest point, the Lethbridge PWP club had about 50 or 60 members, only about 10 of whom were men. Ms. Piquette says the idea of the group was to have both female and male members; so that on group family outings, children would have surrogate fathers and mothers. Newly separated men seem less will- ing to seek group support and admit they are having problems. "Most men were afraid that women were all looking for a speculates Ms. Piquette, "and kept away from PWP. That's wrong. Most women don't want another relationship right away they're still recovering from their She says most people have had very lit- tle contact with single parents until they become one themselves. Families may be a great deal of help to single parents, she says. Although there may be a danger of one's own parents becoming too supportive all have to admit that marriage break down is the fault of both newly separated people desperately need the kind of reassurance their family can offer. Alienation from inlaws can be very hard on the children as well as adults. "And hating your partner for what happened is no good for adds Ms. Piquette. Many single parents complain that society is "geared for couples" and say they feel uncomfortable when socializing with married people. "Couples feel awkward she adds. "It seems they don't know what to do with you." Receiving custody of the children, while a responsibility and sometimes a financial, hardship, gives women something on which to focus their lives, says Ms. Pi- quette. "At first, problems may seem overwhelming and she may resent the situation. But women often end up in better emotional shape than the fathers who are floundering and may end up runn- ing around, trying to make their life more meaningful. Sometimes, when mothers go out to work, they often feel loaded with guilt: the child has no father and is now deprived of a full time mother too. "Very often, they tend to overcompen- sate, doing everything for their adds Ms. Piquette who says social agen- cies too often expect a child from a single parent family to be a problem. "From what I've she adds, "single parents are conscientious about their roles. Of course, there may be some who are poor parents, but then not all married couples are good parents Ms. Piquette says the average 'period of adjustment' after marriage breakdown is about six months. "It all depends on how far the relationship had deteriorated before the actual physical separation took she says. Single parents, especially women, must live with discrimination and various stereotyped attitudes. For instance many complain that landlords won't rent to a single mother because they think she'll be irresponsible with their property or won't pay her rent. While praising the new found freedom to develop an individual lifestyle and ex- plore one's potential usually absent in an unhappy marriage, Ms. Piquettes ad- mits life alone is seldom a bed of roses. "When the going is rough and problems 'come up, it's hard not to have a mate to let steam off at, or to talk things over with "But she adds, "I haven't seen that many married relationships happy enough to make me change my life right now. I'm not saying I never want to marry again, I'm just saying that now I'm happy to be myself, pursue my own interests and have my own friends. "When a marriage breaks up, you have to start thinking about what's important in your life and what isn't. You just.can't continue floating along, a husband to support you. "And it's amazing. You find how much you really can accomplish on your own. And it's a great feeling." Widow adjusted to being alone 6 months after HAMMOND ORGANS HEINTZMAN PIANOS Exclusive Dtilan Credit Plan Available THE PIANO CENTRE 313-rthSHeelSo. Phone 321-2863 OpenThurs. til 9 p.m. Community calendar Southminster Circle Square Dance Club will hold the regular dance at p.m. Saturday in Southminster Hall. All square dancers welcome. Women are asked to bring a pie. "The first six months, I didn't care about anything. I walked around like a zombie." That's Marg Doyle talking about her reaction to her husband's death over three years ago. Since then, she's come to terms with her widowhood admirably, but tears still well up in her eyes when she recalls awakening that Sunday morning, to find her husband of 15 years dead beside her. "It's been a rough three she says now. "But I think we're over the worst of it." Marg Doyle was more for- tunate than many women. She had a profession she'd taught school for 20 years before her marriage and an income to fall back on. She and her husband were just, exploring a move to Lethbridge when he died. She had operated a kindergarten outside the city for five years, but wanted to get her business re located in Lethbridge. After Mr. Doyle's death, the family moved four times in three years before finally settling in the comfortable, lived in home they now lease. "The last three years have been hell, she says. "1 guess I was an old maid when I got Mrs. Doyle laughs. "We had our first baby when I was 36. Nobody even expected us to have one child then we had three more in a row." She says the children, now aged and 11, have ad- justed fairly well to their father's death, although they were confused, bitter and hostile at first. To Whom It May Concern Concern Is the hallmark ol (he Unitarian. Concern lor the lolal lor the whole ol society, lor the Individuals whose llvas louch our own. As a religion, we're better at questions than answers but never cease to search tor the answers. We find that a fellowship or church of kindred minds and spirits adds much to our appreciation of the joy of living.' We tend to lalk a lot, worry a lot. laugh a lot. We'd like to extend our movement to include you. If you would be Interested In joining a Unitarian church or fellowship If one was established In this area, drop a line lo the address below. We'll be happy to respond lo your com- munication. Cinadlan Council Room 2SS, 175 SI. Avonm Toronto, Onl. M4V 1P7 "Sometimes people Ihink ;S we're all a little says ;5 Mrs. Doyle, gesturing to a liv- ing room filled with several pictures of her late husband. "We talk about him all the S time, and still think of him as ig being with us." g She describes her husband as a wonderful husband and considerate father, a man who "lived for his "I had fine neighbors, s friends and family to help me g out at the recalls B Mrs. Doyle. ji She voices a common ex- g perience of people who need companionship in an ff increasingly hurried and 1m- personal society: "People get busy with their own problems, and they really don't expect you to keep needing them. I realized you can't count on others you have to help yourself. After the first shock of death, Mrs. Doyle says the loneliness, the lack of another adult with whom to share problems and experiences, is most depressing. "1 get kind of down sometimes. And whenever I feel that happening, I run myself ragg- try to keep busy. Because if I'm busy I don't have time to brood or feel sorry for myself. Throughout her conversa- tion it is evident she has a close and strong relationship with her children and has worked out problems with them by facing situations frankly and talking them through. Now 50, Mrs. Doyle scoffs at the idea of re marriage, though she's an attractive and personable woman. "The kids would never accept she says. "No-one could take the place of their dad." She says she has several close women friends, some of whom are also widows, and maintains contact with couples she and her husband once knew. But she seldom goes out socially. "I always feel like a fifth she says. Still, her life is anything but empty. She finds operating the kindergarten and teaching youngsters four days a week very rewarding. In addition to that, she is involved with the community and is taking un- iversity courses, working toward her bachelor's degree in early childhood education. "I'm much luckier than she says. "I have four wonderful kids, we have memories of a man we were proud of, and I have a way to support the family." "It's she muses, looking at a picture taken just a week before her husband's death. "Three years ago, I look everything for granted. I was living in my own comfor- table little world. Then, everything fell apart. But I learned I can stand up and fight for myself and my family." And that's something else to give Marg Doyle courage lo carry on. Lynne Van Luven, Herald Family I Editor Adjustment is personal issue Alone again. Every year, hundreds of women are faced with anabrupt change in their marital status. They are widowed, divorced, separated, deserted How they adjust is largely a personal decision. There are some community agen- cies to help them out, but mostly they must draw on their own resources. Society, unfor- tunately, tends to overlook women on their own, or look askance at them, expecting the worst. Their situation is different from that of women who deliberately choose to live alone. For they have had hopes and dreams about a relationship. They have invested love and commitment, only to find the returns on that investment not as they expected because fate is often a cruel broker. Three Lethbridge women recently talked candidly to The Herald about their change from married partner to single parent. Their experiences were painful, groping. But their stories are hopeful ones. Perhaps for the first time, women in large numbers are discovering their own resilience, potential and skills as the result of severed marital ties. They're not at least, most of them aren't falling apart, abandoning their children, turning to drink or letting others look after them. They're coping. And many, like the three women whose stories appear on this page, are doing an ad- mirable job. For them, being alone again, while not an entirely happy circumstance, has led to surprising discoveries about themselves and their inner strengths. Self-pity enemy of single parent Self pity is the worst enemy of a woman alone. W "As long as you don't start to feel sorry for yourself, you can probably make says Edna P. (not her real name) a li mother of seven who receives social assistance as she raises S her family alone and takes university courses in order to :5 become self supporting. Edna has had what most people would call a "rough Married for 15 years to an alcoholic husband who was seldom at home, she raised her family as best she could, never knowing '-f. how much money would be coming in, never in full control of S the children because any discipline she instilled was offset by her husband's largesse when drunk. 5 Unhappy, lacking in positive re inforcement as her life was, an outsider might not understand why she continued in S: such a relationship for so long. 8 "I guess you live and learn the hard says Edna now. 3 "For years, I didn't know there was such a thing as welfare. I 3 stayed on because I didn't know how else I could support the -t children. And because I was afraid, I guess, of striking out 3 alone." g She received some help in coping with her situation by join- S ing Al Anon, an organization for families of alcoholics. "They helped me to build myself up again, to realize I was worth something she says. jg The crucial turning point in her life came when she had a S nervous breakdown. Shattering as the experience was, it'% brought Edna to grips with her situation. She realized she could S not continue living a half life and sought extensive counselling. 3; "At that time I was finally able to admit I needed a change and I was ready to call it she recalls. "But without the counselling to give me faith in myself and my own abilities, to show me" I had nothing to feel guilty about, I'd never have made it." "Now, I just have to get up enough courage to go for a she says. She has been separated from her husband for the past two years. "It all she says, "on what you think of yourself. If you feel guilty, others will react the same way. But if you feel it's right for you and the children, other people will react positively too." "For a long she recalls, "I would never ask anyone for help. Then I realized that wasn't helping any of us and I swallowed my pride. Finally, when I went to my family for help, it broke down a barrier and now we're closer than ever. And if my parents didn't help with the babysitting when I go to class, I could never afford to go." Edna says she doesn't mind seeking passes from organizations like the Y who will sponsor children from low in- come families in activities. "If it helps the kids and it's something they really want to do, I don't mind she says. The kids are better adjusted, the whole family is better for she says of her decision to leave her husband. "I don't know if I'd want to marry she says. "I don't think it would be fair to ask another man to take on responsibili- ty for the children. "But I love music and I wouldn't mind having a dancing partner for the occasional evening she laughs. "Edna's doing very says an acquaintance. "She's got her values worked out now, and she's doing a good job with her children." Practical, level headed and determined Edna knows where she's headed at last. She inspires both confidence and ad- miration by the way she's taken hold of her life. "I've been she says. "The kids haven't been any trouble at all; sometimes I think they're better than some children I see from two parent families. Edma finances tuition for her courses by rigorous budgeting, scraping up a few dollars here and there. Her social worker admires her gumption, but the department of health and social development is unable to help clients with university tuition. "I look a teachers' aide course in the Priority Education Program through Lethbridge Community says Edna. "But then I decided I really didn't want to be a teachers' aide I wanted to go all the way and become a teacher. So I enrolled in university. "The she adds, "are behind me all the way." And Hut's probably because they know their mom has learned, at last, that she's a winner.