Updated 2022—I wondered how am I ever going to get over this breakup. I didn’t realize I had just become a single mom. When I was first separated I was definitely in the denial stage of grieving my relationship. I couldn’t believe my marriage would end in a breakup. Divorce was something that happened to other moms not me. I could not imagine my life as a single mom.
Sometimes you need nonjudgmental guidance. Maybe even guidance that you can carry around in your purse or backpack. I have been thinking about what book would have helped me when I was newly separated and the breakup was fresh. That was the hardest time before we had filed for divorce. In my case filing for divorce would be months down the road.
When I was separated I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to turn. Truth be told getting up in the morning was overwhelming in the early days of my single mom life, but that did eventually get easier.
Here are the top twelve books I recommend, when your breakup is fresh and you are starting your journey as a single mom. Click on any of the books below to go to learn more. about the book.
First Book to Read After a Breakup or Divorce
How to Survive the Loss of a Love
The first time my life fell apart, this book discovered me. Devastated, I craved self-help books and stood browsing in that section of the bookstore. This book literally fell off the shelf at my feet. I took it as a sign and bought it.
This is one of the top ten books I recommend to my psychotherapy clients and I have read it many times. It is written in a combination of bullet points and short poems, which is perfect for times when you are too depressed to really read. Reading this book, you will feel assured that you are not the only person who has felt this way. It is not only good for the death of or divorce from a loved one, but also the other many losses in life. If you get only one book during the first few weeks after a divorce or if you are looking for a gift for a friend, this is the book.
The guide you need to know what your next step is putting together your new life.
A journal made just for you. This journal will help you remember or find your strengths. Then Dream a new dream and figure out the steps to get from where you are to where you want to be.
For more ideas on building your self-confidence check out these 14 books on building confidence.
The Total Money Makeover
Going from two incomes to one is rarely easy, but Dave Ramsey gives baby step advice. He lays it all out for you, which is empowering. Ramsey also shares stories of people who have done the seemingly impossible when it comes to paying off debt. He has multiple other resources on his website, but this book is a great place to start getting control of your money. If you need more support, look for one of his Financial Peace University classes in your area. In my town, several local churches have hosted the class. Do not put your head in the sand; you need to take control of your finances.
The Book of Joy
This is my current favorite book. I recently listened to the audio version while on a road trip and it infused me with peace. Desmond Tutu lived through apartheid in South Africa. Dalai Lama has lived most of his life in exile from his homeland and was taken from his family as a very young child. I can not imagine two people who are more qualified to give guidance about finding joy when life is not how you want it to be. I think everyone can benefit from the words of these two wise men. If you are struggling, this book’s spiritual wisdom and practical tips will encourage you to discover joy in the midst of it.
I discovered this book during another time my life was falling apart. I have read it many times and have recommended it many times to people going through hardships. My favorite concept from the book is that although some people grow spiritually through prayer and meditation, others need pain and suffering to grow spiritually. During my dark days, this idea helps me believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train. I hope it gives others that comfort as well.
You Are a Badass
This is another one of my new favorites. Jen Sincero is inspiring and funny. The two previous inspirational books on my list are fantastic, but if you need some humor with your inspiration, this is the book you should to start with. As you may have guessed, it does contain a bit of swearing. You Are a Badass is not just for the newly divorced. It is for anyone who has self-limiting beliefs.
Sincero has written another book, You Are a Badass at Making Money. I haven’t read that one yet, but I bet it is fabulous. If you have read it, please let me know in the comments if it is as badass as I think it will be. Update: Great information and she is funny too.
Find more books on building your confidence here. They will inspire you to stop living your life to please other people and start living the life you are meant to live.
If you want to know what your kids want you to know about getting divorced, you can eavesdrop here. Now for the books:
Mom’s House, Dad’s House
I read the first one when I got divorced. It helps you understand the importance of making both parents’ homes home for the kids. There are also practical tips for co-parenting. These are classics filled with practical advice.
This book is also a classic. The author, Mar Brown is the author of the popular Arthur series I have it in my office and have read it with kids so many times that it is falling apart. It is a bit too childish for kids over eight or ten. I have, however, been able to use it with young teens (when it looked newer) by asking for their advice in using it with younger kids. The words and ideas are very straightforward, but the silly pictures make hard ideas easier to talk about.
Conventional wisdom says to wait before starting to date after divorce. Often, you will think you are ready before you are. There are so many excuses and justifications. “It has really been over for a long time,” or variations thereof, are the most common. You may think the wait rule does not apply to you and that you are the exception. However, it is probably best to wait one or two years after the divorce is legally final. Yes, I know the process can go on so very long. You are probably out of practice dating, and the stakes are higher now that you have children. Do yourself a favor and evaluate if your man-picking skills could use some work. Read both of the following books before you start dating. You will be glad you did.
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
John Gray may seem old-fashioned but read this book anyway. Even if you do not agree with him, it is important to recognize that there are stages in a relationship. When you get ahead of the other person in the stages, you will be hurt, sad, disappointed, and angry. You can avoid a lot of hurt by recognizing the stages. This book will help you understand what stage the other person is in, and where you are so you do not get too far ahead of yourself.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
Steve Harvey differs with Gray about when to include sex in a relationship. Harvey really confronts ladies on not assuming that what you are thinking is what the man is thinking. The humor in this book is delightful.
What would you add to this list? Do you have a favorite self-help book or a favorite story or genre that transports you briefly to another world? Let me know in the comments. Or, if you have read one of these books, tell me if you found it to be helpful.
I started a group just for you to get the support you need as a single mom. Join us in Empowered Single Mom Tribe. If you want more books checkout 29 Books to Read When Your World is Falling Apart and Your Heart is Breaking, some of the single moms in Empowered Single Mom Tribe share the book that helped them get back on their feet.