Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Single parents navigate through SEMO

Monday, May 29, 2023
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Mommy, when is dinner? Daddy, where is Mommy?

Single parenting is not a new phenomenon. Many single parents today still choose to receive and attend schooling while caring for their children.

Why do they do this you might ask? Is it the drive to succeed for their child? Is it the societal pressure that they have to do it all? Maybe a mix of both?

Some would say it is near impossible to be a single parent in 2023 with the state of the economy, lack of support through families and timing. Jaden and Deonty say differently.

Senior sport management major Jaden Kight is the mother to two-year-old Charlotte. Kight is also an athlete on the track team. She found out she was pregnant at the end of her freshman year at SEMO.

She then had Charlotte on January 30 of 2021. Kight now splits custody with Charlotte’s father 50-50, and has help from her current boyfriend Reece.

Senior sport management major Jaden Kight and her two-year-old daughter, Charlotte.
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“When I first found out I was extremely overwhelmed - I was a freshman, an athlete and with a boy that was a junior in high school,” Kight said. “Being on the track team and seeing all of my teammates be in super fit shape while I was pregnant was really hard.”

Kight then explained how Charlotte's birth was life-changing and how lucky she is to have an ‘easygoing’ kid. She said her biggest struggle was managing school with a child, though it has been worth it in the end.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the percentage of single-parent households in Cape Girardeau County with kids in 2021 was 25.36%. Many of the resources and free programs for single parents in Missouri are geared towards mothers such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the School Breakfast and Lunch Program for their children in school.

Many of the resources and free programs for single parents in Missouri are geared towards mothers such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the School Breakfast and Lunch Program for their children in school.

While there are some state resources single dads can take advantage of such as the Fathers and Families Support Center or the Fathers Support Center STL, there is no help geared towards single dads in Cape Girardeau Missouri.

Senior emergency preparedness major Deonty Eastmon is a single dad to five kids. His daughter, 16-year-old Suriya lives with him. Eastmon is also an Army Veteran, completing 16 years of active duty.

Senior emergency preparedness major Deonty Eastmon and his 16-year-old daughter, Suriya.
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Suriya was an unexpected surprise to Eastmon and her mother but extremely rewarding, Eastmon said.

“Sharing the responsibility was difficult while I was active [duty in the military] because I could only help on my downtime, in between trainings and deployments,” Eastmon said. “The biggest struggle for me is that she is a girl and I am a guy, we see things differently to where there is a barrier in communication because she is a girl and I am a guy.”

The most rewarding thing about being a single dad while in college is being in school at the same time as Suriya, he said. “Sometimes we would both be doing the same thing and would help each other with homework,” Eastmon said.

Each single parent endures their own struggles and rewards, every story is different.

Options for Women is a non-profit organization that offers help to women through ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, parenting classes, food and diapers and much more. They are a free service that helps parents in general get back on their feet and provide the best possible care to all.

Sharon Burgard is the Client Services Coordinator at Options for Women (OFW) along with being a teacher for various classes at OFW. She has been working there for about 5 years and has seen multiple families grow.

“All of us that work in here kind of get attached to these families, we can feel her pain and stress,” Burgard said. “Sometimes it is hard because you care more than they do, some of them are just here for the free stuff but most of them genuinely want to learn something.”

By coming to each parenting class or lesson, parents are able to earn points that go towards free items that were donated to OFW. These items range from diapers to food to household cleaning products.

Kight first received help through OFW by obtaining her first ultrasound at their facility. She said Options for Women helped her with baby clothing and diapers for the first few months of Charlotte's life.

First Call for Help (FCfH) is a free confidential hotline that helps families find resources for their needs. FCfH resources range from disaster relief funds to baby items. Their mission is to aid with health and wellness, education and work and the basic needs of the community.

First Call for Help works with local partners such as Southeast Health and United Way of Southeast Missouri to provide the best care for citizens that reach out.

To find help at Options for Women visit here. To find a broader range of help in Southeast Missouri visit here.

Photo by Allison Lauter