A child's unconditional love is a precious gift, and I thank the stars above every day for my daughter, Hailey.
I am fortunate to have a support system that runs deep. There is my husband, and our families and friends who will undoubtedly influence me as a parent and help determine the woman my daughter will become.
Juggling a 2-year-old and a career is difficult as obligations tug me in different directions a lot of the time. I cannot imagine going it alone, yet many do.
Solid relationships will be tested with the added financial burdens that will ensue as our country deals with rebuilding fiscal stability.
It is even more difficult to find a middle ground to raise a child outside a committed relationship. Communication, consistency and compromise are vital in the upbringing of a child. Establishing boundaries is essential for children and _ more importantly _ between two parents who will be forever tied but have gone along separate paths in life.
Inevitably, parents do not see eye-to-eye on everything, but by talking though their positions, solutions can be attained.
For example, my husband was given his first car while I had to earn every dime to pay for mine. Boy, I loved that little Volkswagen Fox!
Anyway, based on our experience, Kevin suggests that we purchase Hailey's first car, and I am a firm believer that she will appreciate and respect it more if it's purchased with her own money.
We have reached a compromise that both of us can live with. Peanut Bug (I will save this column for you), just be prepared, you will need to work for your first car, and the amount you put in, we will match.
Sadly though, as relationships end, parents often forget the art of negotiation. One male friend is in the process of a bitter divorce. He desperately wants time with his son and has made personal and financial sacrifices to fight for his parental rights.
His relationship went south with his wife. The two are so angry with each other that it is diverting attention away from what is truly important _ an adorable little boy who wants and needs the attention and interaction of both parents.
He is a pawn in an unrelenting game to perpetuate hurt and pain. The only one suffering is the child, and let's face it, no one will "win."
This friend's situation has an added complication. He has a daughter from a prior relationship, and she is also affected as visitation with her sibling is extremely limited.
The emotional by-product is that the two children don't fully comprehend why abruptly they no longer can see each other on a daily basis.
Release the death grip around the jugular, and remember the decisions you make today have a lasting effect and impact so many more people than the often-shortsighted goal to inflict torture as you part ways.
As you untangle the intertwining web in a separation, there will always be a crossover, and although the love has dwindled for each other, remember, it mutually remains for your children.
Although I know there are two sides to every story (I am privy to only one side in this case), and it is easy for an outsider to look in and give opinions, at the end of the day, parents raise their children together whether in the same household or not.
That doesn't mean the parents need to be together, just that their joint efforts are necessary to give diversity, direction and allow each the opportunity to experience the sheer joy and gift of being a parent.
My suggestion is this: Remember what is best for the child you created. Your child will mirror you. I encourage both sides to compromise in raising their child regardless of relationship status. An inability to do so will be at the child's expense.
Both moms and dads bring instinctively unique opinions, traits and knowledge to the table. It is unfair and inconceivable to me to deny your child the benefits of a mother or father in his or her life. Put your differences aside for the good of your children because they will be better for it.
As for my journey to be smoke-free, I am still at five cigarettes a day. I know I have been at this benchmark for an extended period. But, you know what, I am proud that I have been able to maintain it.
It is a far cry from the almost two packs a day I used to smoke. My personal goal and struggles remain. I am just not there yet.
Tanya Shalor is publisher of The Daily Star. Her column appears every other week.