Carolyn from Raleigh, North Carolina, writes:

Hello Circle:

I was very recently divorced from a man who left the church a few years ago. We had five children together and, after years of staying home to raise them, I could use some ideas for a job that pays more than $11.00 an hour! I have a bachelor's degree, although it's not in something that would be terribly useful at this point. I could go back to school, but can't really see how I could work, study, and still raise my children. And input, ideas, thoughts would be appreciated.

Alison says:

I've been working from home for years, and sometimes have done quite well, but it's never been something my family had to depend on for our main income. That would change the dynamic markedly. I will do some research and defer substantive answers to our readers who will, undoubtedly, have wonderful input.

Occasionally, however, we have lived off my earnings. And I am biased toward entrepreneurship as I think it has the best terms (yours!) and the best potential. But it's likely the least reliable.

I also think business opportunities abound. What are you good at? What are your passions? What motivates you to action? What is fun and exciting? These are areas in which to apply further thought, prayer, and creative thinking.

Kathy says:

The first thing I ?d like you to do is start reading. There is inspiration everywhere. Women ?s magazines feature success stories about entrepreneurial mothers quite frequently. I ?d like to see you reading every positive thing about this that you can get your hands on, and networking with women who were exactly where you are now, who are thriving.

Internet Based Moms might be worth looking into.

While you ?re figuring out how to earn the money you need, you might want to take a look at Fay Klingler ?s work about overcoming betrayal.

Have you googled commerce and labor ? for your state? This site will tell you what wages are being paid for jobs in your area. You can see if there ?s a field you can enter without a bachelor ?s, that pays enough. As soon as you have the basics covered, you can start having some fun exploring ways to use your talents to make a living that will provide the life you want for yourself and your children.

Don ?t overlook the humble jobs like waitressing or childcare. If you are a server in an upscale restaurant, you might make over $100 a shift in tips. If you tend only kids from nice homes, it wouldn ?t take very many children to bring in $20 or $30 an hour, and you would not have to leave your own children.

Adult education does not always require a bachelor ?s degree, and it pays a living wage in my city. If you have some skills that others might want to learn, that might be worth exploring. Can you offer lessons? If so, you can teach from home.

If you are like most struggling divorc�es, all the options probably sound hopeless. The main thing I ?d like to say is that this is not as rare as we might think, and, as grueling and emotionally horrific as it is, it ?s actually do-able. In the darkest hours, when you can ?t see how you will ever be able to make it work, remind yourself, This is America. My children are not going to starve. ? As in all trials, you will be surprised to find allies you did not know you had. You will also find inner strength and resourcefulness you would never have known were in there. Don ?t ever go hungry. Even if you never ask the church formally for welfare assistance, you can ask your best friend, or the compassionate service director. There have been dozens of times when my dear friends handed me fifty dollars or five hundred dollars, when they knew I was struggling. I found a bag of groceries on my kitchen counter or my doorstep many times when I was broke. We would all do the same for a friend. It ?s your turn now. Please let us know how you are doing. It might take you ten years, but you will triumph and your kids will bless you. The happier and more hopeful their mother, the better they will adjust.

Tracy says:

My heart goes out to you Carolyn, as it does to any other mother in your situation. Your knowledge and belief in what you're supposed to do as a mother, comes face to face with the horrible realization that it may not be what you're able to do. It's an understandably tight spot. It's also one I have absolutely no personal experience in, so understand that my input certainly doesn't come from a position of expertise. But I am familiar with the inner struggle you're having. I've had several, very long, very tear-filled conversations with my sister-in-law who was recently put in the same situation by a very close, personal, family member. It's caused quite a stir, because I'm 100% behind her, instead of my “own blood.” But hey, truth is truth, right is right, and wrong is wrong. Blood doesn't trump truth in my book.

My first suggestion, though, would be to make sure that you are getting all the financial support from your ex-husband that you and the children legally and ethically need and deserve. He has an obligation, period. And I don't care if he finds “the love of his life” and decides to remarry, buy a new house for the new family, financially support her children, or has more children with her his kids with you come first, end of story. No “I can't pay that much any more because our new house payment is higher,” “because her son is in counseling and it costs a lot of money,” “because I got into a lot of debt since I bought that new car and that hang-on-the-wall-like-its-the-Mona-Lisa flat screen plasma TV.” Too bad, so sad. I ran out of tears during the last Hallmark commercial. Those are his choices, not yours. He'll have to get a smaller house, sell the TV and the new car, and buy a cheaper used one take the bus. I don't care. Leaving the family does not diminish his obligation to them. I'm very cut and dry on all of this. (Assuming I may catch some flames from a few readers for my stance, let me say now don't write in trying to persuade me otherwise. Believe me, I can argue this to the death. Open the floodgates and water will come.)

Yes, he's entitled to pursue his own happiness, but not at his children's expense. If the “breadwinner” (male or female) of a family leaves that family and doesn't have the money to afford “another” family and all the expenses that having another house and family entail and continue to support the first family, then it's my personal opinion that such a person should remain single.

Second, if you're near family, parents, sisters, etc. this is the time to ask them for help. Whether it's financial help, providing childcare for the kids, etc., family should be your number one source for help and relief. But remember that unless your ex-husband was actually abusive, or would put them in dangerous or harmful circumstances, your children need to live as near to him as possible to maintain a very active relationship with him. Three days every other weekend is not a father/child relationship. Neither is traveling out of state two or three times a year or spending a few weeks in the summer. I don't even know what to call that ?visiting? I see my grocer more often. Three or four times more often. He needs to be close enough that he can pick the kids up from school once or twice a week, have dinner, help with homework and take them home. Close enough to show up at baseball games, piano recitals, take them to a dental appointment, catch a movie you see what I mean? As much everyday, common father/child stuff as possible. (Within reason of course, because they need to be with you, too.) But, moving away from him to be near your family will only make it harder for that to happen. So if you live in North Carolina, and your ex lives in North Carolina as well, but your parents live in Utah (I'm just making this up as I go along but go with me since it may apply to other readers) then packing up the kids and moving to Utah will practically put an end to the father/child relationship. (Unless he's so wealthy that he can actually afford to fly out every weekend and in that case, get more child support so you don't have to work! Having your family near to help would be absolutely wonderful, for the kids and for you. But, being near them is not more important or crucial than the relationship between your children and their father. (Even though you might want to smack him every now and then.) Another possibility, is to have a younger sister or cousin who is single, move in with you to help out. Maybe you could swap “shifts” working and taking care of the kids. It's possible that something like that could even work with your ex. Think creatively about possible solutions.

As for employment, don't underestimate the power that your degree has in helping you to find a job. You sort of brushed it off like it wasn't that big of a deal, saying that it wasn't in anything very useful. That kind of “poo-poo-ing” your accomplishments and abilities works like an automatic wall or dam, shutting down creative thoughts of how to use your education. You didn't mention what your degree is in personally, I'd love to know. It may help me think of ways that you could use it, and our readers may have some pertinent suggestions or know of some job opportunities as well.

You didn't mention the ages of the children, and that would be helpful to know also, as I think your employment options change with their ages. For instance, if all the kids are in school, things should be a little easier they're gone away! So you can work! You may need to have someone be at the house for a little while until you get home. (This is where grandma, a sister, or a trusted friend could really be helpful.) But if at all possible, it would be best for you to get home before they do, or at the same time. A job with their school district as a teacher, an aide, a substitute, receptionist, secretary, cafeteria, etc would make that much easier often you and the kids will have the same days off, too.

If you have young ones who aren't in school yet, it makes things a little more difficult. If at all possible, try to be home with them during their “awake” hours. Or at least, during most of that time. Going in to work earlier, maybe 6:00 am to 2:00 p.m., or later, maybe 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., would allow you about six hours each day with a young child who still really needs “mommy.” And again, having a relative or trusted friend to be there when your not, would be great. But the standard 9:00 to 5:00 is coincidentally, most of a young child's day. It only allows you to be home when everything is hectic in the morning, trying to get everyone up, dressed, fed, and out the door, then again in the evening, only a couple hours before bedtime, which is often hectic as well. Plus, you're more likely to be tired and irritated after a full days' work. So 9:00 to 5:00 doesn't really give you “time” with a baby or toddler.

I do understand that sometimes, no matter how hard they try, some moms are not able to work things out so that they can be home with small children. I know that. All I'm saying is, exhaust every resource, think about working earlier, later, flex-time, swing shift, part-time, if your work is done mostly on computer, see if your boss will let you do some of it from home, check for jobs with the school district and of course, fast and pray do everything within your power to be there during the day, or for as much of their day as possible.

Overall, just remember that Heavenly Father wants you to be able to balance your need to work and be “mom” just as much as you do. So be open to Him. Seek counsel in the scriptures, from your Bishop, and in prayer.

Blessings to you and your family.