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Keeping up with Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick has never been easy. Their toxic, rocky relationship has played out – or staged out – for years on the E! reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and Scott’s antics have been must-see TV. Emotional meltdowns, alcohol and drug-fueled party binges, and worse – Persistent rumors that he was cheating on Kourt. Meanwhile, Kourtney’s been portrayed as the doting might-as-well-be-single mom, pulling most if not all of the parenting slack with kids Mason, 5, Penelope, 3 and Reign, 7 months, while Scott plays the villain, shirking his daddy duties to make club appearances and party with his boys.

But single motherhood may in fact be the new reality for Kourtney now that she’s reportedly dumped Scott for good after pictures of him canoodling with ex-girlfriend and fashion stylist Chloe Bartoli in the south of France surfaced in late June. And sure, the Kardashians aren’t like you and me, but that doesn’t mean Kourtney will have an easier time going it alone. Reports suggest the new single mom isn’t doing so well, but is keeping a smile on her face for the kiddos while she bakes cupcakes.

“Single parenting is always a difficult thing to navigate, even with celebrity-style help,” says Allen Wagner, an L.A.-based marriage and family therapist. And caring for kids as young as Kourtney’s is especially challenging. “It’s difficult for children that age to express disappointment or frustration when their parents split, but at the same time they’re really needy.” As a result, Wagner says, many newly single parents have a tough time coping when they can no longer ‘tag out’ and ‘tag’ their partner in. But there are ways to keep it together, survive and yes, thrive while flying solo.

Find your village.

Don’t be afraid to enlist help. Wagner says every single parent needs a trusted support network of friends and family to help get through the bad times and celebrate the good. Which is exactly what Kourtney’s doing. Just days after the news broke of her split with Scott, Kourtney took Penelope to Disneyland to ring in her third birthday — in matching Tinkerbelle outfits — along with her famous auntie Kim and cousin North. Grandma Kris Jenner and her boyfriend Corey Gamble tagged along too.

Don’t erase your ex from the picture.

Sure, Scott seriously screwed up, and he knows it. But that didn’t stop him from sending a sweet birthday message to his little girl on Instagram. “1 of the only things I’m proud off about myself. Happybdayp,” he wrote, with a collage of photos of Penelope in other costumes. You certainly can’t blame Kourtney for not inviting him to the birthday outing, says Wagner, but she shouldn’t give Penelope the impression that daddy chose to go MIA. “Each parent plays a significant role in emotionally supporting their children,” says Wagner, “and Scott is a significant part of his kids’ lives.”

Try a little tenderness.

Scott’s hard-partying, bad boy behavior doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his children. “It indicates a combination of addictions, but more importantly, it’s also a sign that he feels overwhelmed,” says Wagner. “It’s common for parents of young children to feel they’ve lost their identity once they have to become responsible for others instead of just being selfish.” And let’s not forget Scott’s parents died within two months of each other last year and that he’s obviously still dealing with that loss — not productively, but recklessly. Kourtney doesn’t have to forgive him, but a little compassion is always a good thing.

Don’t point fingers.

It’s almost never one person’s fault when a relationship fails, even if that person cheated. “Infidelity is usually a symptom of a breakdown in communication,” says Wagner. “In families with young children, it’s common for parents to communicate only about kids and exchange to-do-lists, to stop going on date nights and stop saying ‘I love you.’ And pretty soon you have a sexless relationship. When people aren’t being validated romantically, it can be easy to stray.” Of course Scott’s behavior was reprehensible. But if Kourtney can understand the role she played in the breakup, however small, that will make it easier to move on.

Find common ground for the kids’ sake.

Kourtney and Scott had very different lifestyles even when things were OK in their relationship.  Kourtney loves tea and green juice, Scott loves his vodka lemonades. Same can be said about their parenting styles — she’s a hands-on mom, while Scott’s been portrayed as being pretty much AWOL. But now they’ve got to focus on co-parenting successfully. “It’s okay if their parenting styles are different as long as they share the same values,” says Wagner. “It’s also important that they respect and trust one another as parents. And the structure and expectations of the kids have to  be consistent whether they’re with mom or dad. There can’t be a good cop/bad cop situation.”

Embrace single parenthood.

A cool, devoted mom from day one, Kourtney has a head start here. After Scott gets treatment for his emotional and addiction problems, he can start building his own strong relationship with Mason, Penelope and Reign. “It’s time for him to decide what is important based on his own experiences,” says Wagner. “Being a parent is a unique opportunity to share yourself.”

 

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Real Housewife of New York and New York Times bestselling author Bethenny Frankel has a brand new book out called I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To, which is full of great lessons she learned the hard way. Dating as a single parent is no easy feat, so I tapped Bethenny to share some quick nuggets of advice for all of us single moms and dads who are braving the dating pool.

10 Minutes, 10 Questions: Bethenny Frankel gives Christine Coppa the real lowdown on dating as a single parent

A SINGLEWITH.COM exclusive

CC: When you hear the term “single parent dating” what comes to mind? For me it’s, CHAOS.i-suck-at-relationships-so-you-dont-have-to

BF: The challenge of balancing time. 

CC: What would you tell a newly single parent about getting back out there?

BF: Be in the moment. Meeting new and interesting people – and that alone – can have value and help you grow as a person. You can make a new friend, learn what you like, what you don’t like. Don’t beat yourself up, because every person isn’t prince(ss) charming. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself.

CC: The scene in Jerry McGuire when Tom Cruise eats Apple Jacks with Renée Zellweger’s little boy “the morning after” always sticks with me. How do you feel about introducing a child to the person you’re dating?

BF: He/she shouldn’t be introduced until it’s a very serious relationship, or a person that’s definitely going to be in your life for a while. Even then [the introduction] should start off just as friends. The child doesn’t need to know what the extent [of the relationship is.] Be mellow about it. I mean, single moms have gay friends, male friends, girlfriends – it can be just someone the child is meeting – it doesn’t have to be so serious.

CC: How do you feel about single parents dating other single parents? Too much? Good move?

BF: If you date a single dad, he understands where you’re coming from, the division of time, your priorities and that your kid is your number one priority.

CC: Let’s talk about reeling men in…

BF: Women attract the right type of man if they’re honest about having kids – and that’s something they are really passionate about. You attract the type of man that wants that – a responsible family man.

CC: A lot of single parents swear by a, er, friend with benefits – what’s your take?

BF: My personal thing is that women – for the most part – are incapable of separating sex from emotions. I’m not a big fan of a friend with benefits. I think it gets tricky. A newly single mom might be in a fragile state trying to balance a lot of things and I don’t think being emotionally attached to the wrong person is a good idea.

CC: When I go out on a date I feel like I have to flip the switch and be a sexy woman, not a single mom – and it’s not always easy to reverse roles. What’s your advice for enjoying a night out?

BF: It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mention you have a child, because that’s a part of your identity. But you don’t want to go on and on and on about it. And it’s not good to badmouth an ex – you can sprinkle in certain things over the course of several dates. I once had a guy tell me about all the money he has to pay his ex-wife and I was so turned off. Get yourself dolled up and looking pretty and appreciate the date. Time away from your kids  is something different in your day.

CC: What are some dating red flags for single parents?

BF: A person who doesn’t want kids, doesn’t want to commit, someone who seems to be dating a lot of other people and is not going to be solid. People think they can change someone. Pay attention in the beginning – it’s an indication of who the person is.

CC: Can/should a single parent stay friends with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend  if the child is attached to that person? 

BF: That’s hard. Still be friends, if it can be structured. If everyone can handle it. It’s like a juice fast, you have to be delicate – you can’t just go cold turkey.

CC: What’s a single parent’s happily ever after in your opinion?

BF: I think a partnership is nice. I think having a partner that wants to be apart of your family completes the puzzle. Going out to the park on a Sunday. You can have a unit and that person can fulfill something for the child and you.

Singlewith contributor Christine Coppa is the author of Rattled!, a memoir about single motherhood. She’s also a contributing writer at Yahoo! Parenting and the mom of a 7-year-old boy. She loves cheese and wishes she could find a man with her golden retriever’s personality. 

Reality-TV star Bethenny Frankel is the author of many bestselling books, including I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To, Skinnygirl Solutions, Skinnygirl Cocktails and A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life. She’s the single mom of a daughter, Bryn, who will turn 5 next week. Happy birthday, Bryn! 

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Photo by  Evelyn Semenyuk on Unsplash

WHY WE LOVE HER: She pursued her dream of being a singer, despite working two jobs as the single mom of four. Now that her career is taking off, she’s encouraging other parents to hold on to their dreams, even as they tend to tiny hearts.

Teen motherhood and single parenthood didn’t exactly ruin Kimberly Henderson’s life. Pregnant at 16, the Sumter, South Carolina native decided to keep the child, marry her sweetheart and stay in school. Ten years and four kids later, she’s a single mom with a single, “Tiny Hearts,” at the top of the iTunes singer-songwriter chart. The rising star, now 27, doesn’t have much patience for the negative stereotypes. “I think it’s empowering to be a single parent,” she says.

“People look down on single moms,” Kimberly concedes. She’s been called names. But she has her own label for single moms (and dads): Superheros. “You’re just one person, you’re providing, you’re going to sick visits and soccer practice,” she says. “It shows strength and determination – and you know, a lot of women can’t do it and they’re married!”

The week of Thanksgiving last year, Kimberly’s youngest daughter, Vaida, 1, was having trouble getting to sleep, and Kimberly was singing to her in the kitchen, as usual. She decided to record it, just to have the memory of those late nights. She sang Sam Smith’s arrangement of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?” as she rocked her baby girl to sleep.

“My sister was in the room next to me and she said, ‘Kim, that was really good, you should post it on Facebook.’” Kimberly hesitated. “I was tired and I didn’t have any makeup on,” she confesses. She wasn’t thrilled to have anyone outside the family see her like that. Then, she remembers, she just thought, “whatever,” and uploaded it.

The video is indeed totally raw – bad lighting, terrible camera angle – and it is achingly beautiful. Vaida’s blue eyes go from wide open to fluttering shut as her mom rocks her and sings with a voice that’s astonishingly expressive. The post went viral on Facebook starting December 12 – within a week there were 20 million views. On Youtube, there are 2.9 million hits and counting.

Kimberly still has her day job: She works 8-3 as a certified medical assistant in a doctor’s office and moonlights as a waitress in an oyster bar for extra cash. And she’s still the one taking care of her kids – when Singlewith caught up with her she was at home, apologizing for multiple interruptions, “Sorry, I’m trying to do five things at once,” chasing the baby and welcoming the older kids home from school.

For the most part, Kimberly’s life is still pretty much the life of any parent, single or otherwise. Basketball season just ended, she says, and the kids are all playing soccer now. With four kids –Kayleigh, almost 10, Brianna, 9, Aiden, 5, and little Vaida – Kimberly says it can be hard to go out on weekends, though they do sometimes. More often, they’ll stay home and do karaoke night—all the kids like to sing – or movie night, with popcorn and candy. What’s the favorite movie? Frozen, Kimberly says, with a sigh. “Even the little boy is all about it,” she says. “It’s stressful.” (Recently, on her Facebook page, Kimberly posted the hilarious viral video of the North Carolina mom who was totally fed up with Frozen. Who can’t relate?) But things are starting to change.

“I wanted single moms and single dads … to have a song they can relate to.”

Cosco Kids, the baby products company, found out that a couple of months before the lullaby video went viral, Kimberly was in a serious car accident, and a Cosco carseat likely saved Vaida’s life. The company decided to take it a step further and help launch Kimberly’s singing career. They partnered with Break Entertainment, an artist development company, and flew Kimberly (and Vaida) out to Los Angeles in early January to record her first single, “Tiny Hearts.” The song reached number 5 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart last week. Now Kimberly’s plans for nursing school are on hold as major record labels fly her in for meetings.

10497928_966970993332300_2794779445019927549_o“Tiny Hearts” started with a song Kimberly had written in high school, and she and the team in L.A. took some lyrics from that and wrote the rest from scratch. It’s about that time when she was 17 and all her friends were going out on dates, and she was home feeding a 6-month-old, she says. And the similar feelings she’s experienced since then, as her family has grown – feelings most parents can relate to, if they’re honest with themselves. The lyrics express a wistfulness about the life she’s missing out on, but the solid conclusion that being there for your kids is more important than anything else. “There are a lot of single moms out there that work their butts off and they have dreams… but at the end of the day, being a mom comes first,” says Kimberly. As the song puts it: “I know who I am…tiny hearts are in my hand.”

“I wanted my first song to be something meaningful that inspired me,” Kimberly says. “I wanted single moms and single dads, and parents and grandparents, to have a song that they can relate to,” she adds. “Maybe this can be our song, in the way that ‘All About that Bass’ speaks to not having to be a size zero or two to be pretty in the world.”

“You’re thinking in the back of your head, ‘I’m a mom, I can’t do this.'”

While Kimberly’s current fame was sparked by the viral video, she’s not exactly an overnight success. She’s been working on her dream for years, now. “I work two jobs because I have to, but I have really always wanted to be a singer, and luckily I’ve had support.” The first time she sang live, it was in 2011 at open mic night at Pizza Lane, a restaurant in her hometown. “It’s really small, like a country town,” she says of Sumter. Since then she continued to do little singing gigs, no more than once a week, at places in Sumter like Hamptons, a fine-dining restaurant, and J O’Grady’s, a burger, barbecue and beer place. Occasionally she’d travel to nearby cities like Charlotte, NC, and Columbia, SC, for a gig, and she auditioned three times for American Idol, getting turned down each time. She didn’t give up, but “at the same time, you’re thinking in the back of your head, ‘I’m a mom, I can’t do this,’” Kimberly admits.

10517506_997663556929710_7866871200526841328_n
A glamorous moment at the Henderson house.

In fact, until her video went viral, Kimberly hadn’t been able to pursue singing more aggressively because she has needed to be there for little Vaida and her other kids. Life has been good, but it hasn’t been perfect. Kimberly’s marriage to her high school sweetheartlasted “six or seven years,” she says. “Being young, it didn’t work out.” Then Aiden came along. “I was in some bad relationships,” she says. When she got pregnant with Vaida, she was on birth control, and thought, “I cannot do this.” The father was not in the picture and Kimberly almost went through with an abortion, but decided against it at the last minute. All of the kids’ dads are in their lives now, but Kimberly, who has been “officially single” for two years, has full custody of all four. She’s a hands-on mom and wouldn’t want it any other way.

But Kimberly has a message for other single moms (and single dads – she’s gotten a lot of messages from dads who say they can relate to “Tiny Hearts”): “Don’t forget who you are, and don’t give up on your dreams.” Over the years, people have asked her how she finds time to sing. “If you really care about something, you make time for it,” she says. “It doesn’t make you selfish. I would pick one night a week and do this. It was my relaxation – though I didn’t always get sleep.” Kids come first, in Kimberly’s world, but she believes in finding a balance somehow. “You gotta have time for yourself.”

In the end, Kimberly says, “It’s crazy. It’s like being a mom made my dream happen for me.”

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All photos courtesy Kimberly Henderson.