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Texas woman's story highlights single parents' unique role

If you're a newly divorced parent or about to become one, you may be wondering how you'll fill the day-to-day role of a single mom or dad, particularly if your child's other parent isn't in the picture. After you've been granted child custody, some might tell you that a single-parent household isn't the best for children, or that you can't adequately fulfill the duties of both a mother and father. But one Texas woman's story shows that children have a lot to gain when you're willing to put in the effort.

When she was just a toddler, the woman's parents divorced and her mother, still a teenager, was declared unfit to care for her. Back in the early 1970s, the judge's decision to grant full custody to the woman's father was highly unusual. It probably seemed particularly bizarre to those who knew the rough-and-tumble rancher with the handlebar mustache who admitted he'd never wanted children. But faced with the challenge of raising his 2-year-old daughter, he grabbed the opportunity by the horns.

With his young ex-wife away in Germany with her new husband, the father did all the things that most dads leave to their wives: He hosted slumber parties, brought treats to school functions and even took her bra shopping. As his daughter's classmates continued to ask where her mother was, she continued to rely on her father to fill her absent mom's shoes. "He may not have been a traditional mother," she said later, "but he was all I had."

Of course, he never stopped being a dad, either. On the ranch where they lived in China Springs, he taught her how to work cattle and cut firewood, after which they might attend a tractor pull together -- or a ballet.

Although her father passed away late last year, the 40-year-old woman looks back fondly on just how much her father was able to be both a mother and father to her -- the way he comforted her when her heart was broken, and how he helped her leave a bad marriage.

This woman's story is one of countless examples of successful single parenting. Some might feel that a single-parent family isn't ideal, but in many cases, a solo parent can do a wonderful job filling in the gaps with enough effort and love for their child.

Source: MyWestTexas.com, "Single father plays motherly role in daughter's life," Sara Higgins, May 10, 2012

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