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Which path should I go down for myself and my daughter?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (29 December 2014) 4 Answers - (Newest, 30 December 2014)
A female United States age 22-25, anonymous writes:

Dear cupid,

I have a daughter I'd like to provide for. The problem is that I can't decide on how to go about it. At first, I decided to join the military, but once I realized that my personality doesn't match the lifestyle I changed my mind and decided to go to school. I've already applied to a community college and know what degree I want. Although, just recently my drunk brother-in-law told me that it's been really hard on him and my sister financially since I moved in with them. He also said that he couldn't believe that I would quit on enlisting. He thinks I'm doing it for some guy I just met. Honestly, I'm not. The reason why I quit was because I'm a quiet, sensitive person and the military is a harsh and loud place. To be there for 4 years? I don't think that would make me happy. But since I've discovered what my sister's been trying to hide (financial troubles that could well be due to my presence), I'm thinking that training and enlisting would get me out of their hair a lot quicker than trying to get degree or even just a certificate. What I try to tell myself is that I'll be forced to get over my shyness in the military and after that everything will be dandy. What I need someone to tell me is whether I should choose the comfortable lifestyle I've always wanted, or the challenging yet rewarding path in the military (since it will tear me down but help me provide for my daughter, get me out of my sister's hair, and will later pay for my education.)

View related questions: drunk, military, moved in, shy

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A female reader, Euphoric29 Germany +, writes (30 December 2014):

Dear OP,

I'm not from the U.S., but if I was you, I wouldn't join the military. Because you might get deployed and get injured/die, so you can't provide for your daughter anymore. And when you're in another country, or in training, you won't see her.

I think Honeypie was really able to provide you with some answers. Don't make any rushed decision. Think long-term.

Also, could your daughters' dad provide any financial help?

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (30 December 2014):

Honeypie agony auntI don't think the military is for you from what you write. My husband served 26 years, and I was there for 16 of those, and I can tell you it's NOT an easy job for many young people. Single moms? Even harder, as you HAVE to have a family care plan (wherever you get stationed) for someone to watch your child while you are at work, in the field, deployed, at schools or training. If you can't provide a family care plan YOU are out. It used to be a lot more lenient, but the last few years of budget cuts and "re-organizing" the military, it's be adhered to more strictly. So without a well made safety net, a single mom soldier can be screwed.

My question is WHY do you live with your sister & BIL? Have you no help from parents? From the baby-daddy?

I think YOU need to focus on getting OUT of their house and on your own two feet. That means you NEED to look into section 8/HUD housing (I think it's called) and child support from the father.

There are MANY programs for teen/young mom which can help you get an education and get you on your feet. One of my nieces had daughter at 18, got a scholarship, housing, foodstamps. She unfortunately pissed away the scholarship and had to save up (when she DID get a job) for classes.

http://www.centerffs.org/safe-and-supportive-housing

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/other/sch/sch-paper2

The second one you can click on the state you live in, in the top tab, to see what you can do.

http://www.singlemoms.org/housing-assistance-for-single-mothers/

Baby steps. Focus on getting yourself a home for YOU and your child, THEN look into work & education.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (30 December 2014):

I don't really know how it works in your country. But here in the UK you could be applying to have a state funding flat or house, applying for benefits as a single mother and start looking for part time work, once obtained you can apply for help with childcare costs.

Here you might not get it all, as the process is hard, but as you are now a mother currently raising your child and paying your way in life in order to raise her should be the priority.

Can you not get a part time job and study online? You don't mention that you contribute to your sister and her husband. They cannot pay for both you and your child and I personally would put school on the back burner until you find a way to provide for the both of you.

I am sure your sister would be happy to help with childcare if you're working part time. If you join the army, what's going to happen to your daughter? Are you just leaving her with your sister? I can't see a full time job, let alone military, is going to help you out. If you're away from your child it's just going to leave you with regrets of what you missed out on.

Mothers and fathers who work a simple 9-5 job 5 days a week find it hard to leave their child with someone else for that time let alone potentially leaving the country for months at a time.

If I were you I would be looking at getting a small place somewhere, just for the two of you, and seeing if there were government schemes that can help fund your rent. I would look at when your family can help look after your little one (evenings or mornings) and start looking for jobs where you can work during that time. Once you are supporting yourself and child then I would look at online education.

I didn't have a child at 18, but I had already left home and was renting my own place. It is achievable and you might qualify for help being a mum on your own. You might not be able to live in a palace but you will have a place you can call your home, and as your daughter becomes old enough for school you can work and study more and she will see you as such a role model.

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A female reader, maverick494 United States + , writes (29 December 2014):

Hmmm, the military definitely isn't for everyone. I'm in the navy myself, in a position that requires me to be away from home for around 200 days a year. I love it but it's definitely not something I'd choose if I had a child I'd want to see grow up.

Other branches work differently, but on the whole it is not a very female friendly environment. I think in terms of the least amount of sexism and shit to deal with, the AF is your best bet. Or at least, that's what I heard from my aunt, who is 42 and has been with the AF for a long time and has a daughter. You can talk to a recruiter, but do your own research first: recruiters are not always entirely honest; they tend to make things look better than they really are. Again, I like the military, but I'm just not blind to its faults.

Anyway, do some online research and see if you can find out what job would interest you and what that would mean for your home situation. Also, depending on the job you apply for, the military does have a pretty extensive screening. For example, if you're applying for a position of leadership, they'll definitely tell you if they think you're too shy.

Don't worry much about the physical aspect of it; that's something you can train for, and having to do that with other newbies really helps because you're in the same boat.

Weigh the pro's and cons, and if you feel there's a good opportunity for you there, give it a shot. But if you end up really not wanting to do it, don't do it. Once you're in, you're in and 4 years can be very short, but also very long.

I also have a few questions:

- If living with your sister is too hard on them, is it possible to maybe move back with your parents? (If you still have them that is, I don't mean to assume).

- You mentioned your brother in law being drunk; is alcohol abuse a cause behind their financial problems?

- Is there any way you can get a job while going to college, so you can pitch in to help with the finances? How much of your expenses are paid by yourself? Is there a way to shoulder more of that?

- How does your daughter fit into all of this? Also, where is the father of the child?

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