In this counseling answer:
• If you have friends and relatives who can help you in this regard, it is important to attend to this first before considering your own needs.
• An additional source of building social relations are other parents whom you come into contact with through school as your child is of school age.
• Another reliable source is the mothers you can meet at the many Islamic and Muslim social events.
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,
It can all seem a bit daunting to find one’s self as a single mother after the divorce, especially if the marriage was not a short one. The importance of maintaining family ties, having an extended family, and having a good social support network cannot be overemphasized as the African proverb states: “It takes a village to raise a child”.
A child’s world is extremely important for his/her emotional and psychological development. Making sure that this is reliable and that you have the support you need for your child is the most important thing for a mother to attend to first before she can consider anything else about her life. When this is neglected, a few surprise shocks are in the wings as the child will find his/her own points of reference in terms of belonging, identity, as well as his/her own social and emotional development. If you have friends and relatives who can help you in this regard, it is important to attend to this first before considering your own needs.
After a long marriage, it can be pretty disorientating to find yourself on your own. You are no longer the same person you were before marriage, and if your marriage was insular, in that you relied only on your spouse for your social needs, then consequently you will feel completely lost. This means that your starting point now is your friends and family members. This might consist of only visiting each other at first, but at least it provides a beginning of the kind of social relations which you can build on.
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An additional source of building social relations are other parents whom you come into contact with through school as your child is of school age. This can take some time and should involve your parental participation in the needs of your child at a school like parents’ evening. You cannot solely rely on meetings when picking your daughter up from school. This is simply because you have to get to know who the other parents are before making a decision to progress forward in any kind of social networking (e.g. shared childcare one evening per week so that you can go out with your friends or attending an evening class to improve your skills).
As a practicing Muslim, another reliable source is the mothers you can meet at the many Islamic and Muslim social events which take place in the country. Especially those tied to a mosque or a good Islamic center. These occasions are usually family centered in the UK and because the mixing of the sexes is generally not encouraged at such social environments, it would be easier for you to mingle and make new friends. The Somali community in parts of the capital (e.g. South London) has their own networks and centers, so it would be worth finding out about such places for both you and your child.
Of course, all the above will take some time for you to establish, but this is all the better as this will give you the time you need to re-integrate back into the community.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.