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Baby on Board: Being a Single Parent

By Holly Menino

EUGENE, Ore. — Parenthood is a job that’s both rewarding and — at times — challenging.

It’s also a job that’s hard to do on your own.

When there are two parents in the home that job can be divided up, but for single parents the responsibility falls solely on their shoulders.

“You have to be mom and dad and a guidance counselor and a referee. You do it all by yourself,” said Julie Bonneau.

Bonneau is raising her son Gabe on her own.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re sick. It doesn’t matter if your world is falling apart. It doesn’t matter if you can’t pay a bill or someone’s giving you a hard time. You don’t get a day off,” Bonneau said.

It’s a balancing act — raising her son, working and making sure he’s cared for while she’s at her job.

“You kind of have to reach out to get back up when you’re a single parent from your parents or from other single parents,” Bonneau said.

When it comes to money, she says if school clothes are needed, that’s more hours at work.

Even though Bonneau is the primary caregiver for Gabe, his father is still active in his life.

“We try to spend a fair amount of time talking to each other about Gabrielle and it’s hard. That’s one of the hardest things I think about being a single parent is to put your self-centeredness or your selfishness or what you want aside and try to make your choices based on what’s best for the child,” Bonneau said.

Justin Graham can relate.

“Even though we’re not together, it still takes both parents,” Graham said.

Graham is a single dad raising two teenage daughters and an 11-year-old son. They came to live with him two years ago.

“I’m always worrying about rent, food, just all that stuff,” Graham said.

Like Bonneau, Graham has help too.

“There’s absolutely no way I can do this on my own. I have a lot of help, friends, family,” Graham said.

He balances going to school, working and parenting.

A high school dropout, Graham is trying to teach his children the value of an education.

He also finds himself in a unique situation, parenting two teenage daughters.

“I try to talk to them and tell them that they can talk to me about anything. A lot of it, I don’t really understand what they’re going through,” Graham said.

While being a single parent is one of the most difficult things they’ve ever done, they both say it’s well worth it.

“It doesn’t matter how being a parent, if you’re a single parent or a married parent. It’s still one of the best jobs in the world,” Bonneau said

Both Bonneau and Graham say they’re grateful for the help they get from their family and friends. They say they couldn’t do it without them.

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