Today’s show features Theresa Key, an Internet marketer and former single mom. As a single parent Theresa had a child who was diagnosed with ADHD and she researched and became an expert in using Section 504 of the rehabilitation act to insure her child was treated fairly in the education system.
As a work at home mom (WAHM) Theresa is an Internet marketing solutions coach and founder of Key Solutions Experience, a boutique consulting firm in Los Angeles. She works with writers, authors, content developers, Internet marketing experts, personal development and transformational leaders and motivational speakers.
Theresa is also an IT consultant specializing in IT for small and medium-sized business process improvement and tech training. She got a MS in education and earned her bachelor’s while she was a single parent from UCLA. She enjoys helping groups and individuals tap into their strengths and create solutions to their business and personal challenges.
Welcome to Theresa Key. Theresa, are you there?
Theresa: Yes I am, good morning, Len, how are you?
Len: Good morning Theresa, I am marvelous and how are you today?
Theresa: Excellent, excellent, I’m just excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
I’ve earned my stripes
Len: Welcome. Well, I am excited to have you. So let’s get started. So right now you’re married with three wonderful children, but you were a single parent for eight years.
Theresa: Yes. I’ve earned my stripes. Yes
Len: You’ve earned your stripes. So do you want to talk a little bit about your single parent experience. Tell us, what are some of your fondest memories and what are some of your scariest moments?
Single Parenting and attending college at the same time
Theresa: You mentioned in introducing me that I was a single parent, and I was actually going through undergraduate at the time. I was a single parent at UCLA, and I had my son with me. And I think one of my fondest memories is of being a single parent on a college campus, was the fact that I would go to campus and go to class with my little two year old running around, and my three year old, at the time.
And I remember sitting outside of a lecture hall, probably 500 people in there, and I’m sitting outside with the door cracked open, I’m taking notes and so my son just decides he’s going not only walk in, but run down the aisle and go meet the professor. So moments like that, things that you can’t control are some of my fondest memories.
And then some of my scariest memories would probably be, just that feeling of overwhelm, not knowing what you’re going to do or how to handle certain situations because you’re basically on your own and you have to figure it out, so I had, I remember I would always laugh with my friends about using an 800 number. You know, I needed an 800 number for myself sometimes, just to call, emergency to help me figure things out, but, you know, he’s an adult now so it’s obvious that we made it.
Len: I absolutely can’t imagine going to school and being a student at the same time that I was a single parent. It’s just beyond my comprehension. How did you fair financially through those times and how did you support yourself?
Theresa: That’s a very good question. One of the things that I fell naturally into was being an entrepreneur. So I found myself going to local businesses and doing things for them, like at that time, it was considered typesetting or graphic design and production. When Apple initially first came out with the desktop computers, I was doing graphic design for people, desktop publishing, helping them get organized with that. And I would just pick up odd jobs just to string things together. Because of course, you have to be in class and you can’t really work full time.
I also took time off. I bit the bullet and I took time off from school and the great thing about that was it gave me a moment to literally mature and then come back to school, where I just kicked butt, you know, and got all A’s and things like that. It really was a maturation process for me as well.
Len: So you talked about having jobs and going to employers and doing graphic design and things like that and while you were saying that I had this vision of a little two-year-old whirlwind, racing around in circles around the desk while you’re trying to do graphic design.
Theresa: Literally, yes.
Len: Is that an accurate vision?
Dealing with ADHD
Theresa: That is definitely on point. My son was very, very active, and as a matter of fact, he was literally misdiagnosed with the common, the now too common, ADHD, but he was very, very active, he was very, very smart, and his diagnosis really helped me to kind of get involved more in education. It started me really thinking about education because I had to actually become his advocate.
Len: Well, that’s really an interesting area, maybe we can explore that just a little bit. I suspect a lot of my listeners out there have children that have been diagnosed or misdiagnosed as ADHD. It seems to be a term we toss around a lot. If the kids overactive, he must be ADHD. I certainly would have been diagnosed as that. If they had such a thing.
Theresa: I think we’re all a little ADHD. Right. I think we’ve all got a little bit of that.
Len: I know that I am. Well, what did you have to do to advocate for your child?
Theesa: Well, it was an interesting process and now that I look back on it, I’m laughing and smiling and I’m excited but back than I was crying and I was really scared because I didn’t understand the process. And at that time, the main thing that I wanted to make sure that he had an appropriate education, that he could be a part of the regular classroom environment and that he would get an assessment and really find out where
his strengths were and where we could help him improve.
Working with Individualized Education Planning (IEP)
And one of the things I discovered in that process, it was called the IEP process, which stands for Individualized Education Planning Process, and it’s specifically designed for students who are, may have the potential to be in a special education environment. Fortunately, he didn’t qualify for special education; however, there is a federal law, section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, protects students who may have slight, quote unquote, disabilities or differences, outside of what they consider and average.
So for example, someone who is really, really intelligent may learn differently, or they may not be able to sit in class and just kind of sit there all day for an extended period of time, they may have to get up and move or they may have to sit in the front of the room. All of these are called accommodations, and one of the things that I really wanted was to make sure that my son was not going to be in any type of special needs environment, that while in the regular classroom environment, his needs were being met. So it was really a challenge. It really was a challenge at that time.
Len: It sounds like, it sounds like you also rose to the challenge and really met it very appropriately. Your son is now grown and he’s doing okay.
Every Little Step, Reflections of a Parent’s Special Needs Journey
Theresa: Yeah, yeah, he’s doing great. He’s a brilliant, young man, and I’m very excited for him and for his future. And as a result, my reflections, I have a new book coming out called, “Every Little Step, Reflections of a Parent’s Special Needs Journey”. So I’m very excited about that and my opportunity to tell this story.
Len: Your new book, you said it’s coming out, so it’s not available yet.
Theresa: It’s not available yet, it’s coming out at the beginning of the year. And it’s called, “Every Little Step”.
Len: Oh, okay.
Theresa: It’s more or less the ins and outs from the parent perspective of how you really begin to approach the subject of testing and all the things that can happen and just things to be aware of as a parent.
Len: Okay. So when you, if you reflect back into those years of being a single parent and having this little whirlwind two year old racing around, well I suppose he wasn’t two years old when he was diagnosed with ADHD, but nevertheless, this little whirlwind racing around, what was your biggest fear? What kept you awake at night?
The Single Parent’s Biggest Fear
Theresa: Hm. Wow, you’re coming out with the gloves, huh, Len?
Len: Well, I didn’t mean to be.
Theresa: Let’s see, [Laughs] yes. Let’s see, my biggest fear that kept me up at night was not really, feeling like I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Because, let’s be honest, when we get married, or even as we’re growing up, we have this vision of a big wedding, and we think we’re going to do all these wonderful things, and going to find Prince Charming or Princess Charming, and what happens is, life may take another turn and then you’re left feeling like something is missing.
Well, you don’t necessarily have to feel that way. As I’m thinking back, but then I was thinking I failed and I’ve really messed up and there’s nothing I can do, just completely kind of devastated. But at the same time, I was determined to kind of figure it out. A lot of single parents in the media, single parents get a bad rap. Or a lot of single moms and single fathers as well get a bad rap, for the reason why the kids are writing on the walls and doing all the wrong things in the world. And that’s simply not true.
It’s simply not true. There are some wonderful individuals that just happen to be parents, and they just literally have to get organized and focus and figure it out so that they can introduce a lifestyle for their children and introduce values and love and the things that really matter. So the scariest thing for me was just really feeling out of sorts and not really knowing, but then settling down and saying I can do this.
Len: Wow, that’s pretty intense though, when you’re waking up at night feeling like your whole world has come unglued. And . . .
Theresa: Yeah, that’s complete.
Len: . . . a lot of, yeah, I think a lot of single parents have that, oh my god, have that fear of oh my god, what am I going to do, how am I going to get through this, the fear of not being able to pay the bills, not being able to do the right thing for your children. It was certainly part of my fear set as a single parent.
Len: So, hey well let’s just take a real quick break here and identify who we are what we’re doing and when I come back, you’ve actually raised two families over a long period of time. I’d like to flash forward a little bit and talk about what’s going on today and what you see is the, oh some of the major differences between raising kids, say, you know, how long ago did you have your eight year old, or did you have your two year old, rather? It’s 15 years ago?
Theresa: That was in the, yeah, that was in the 90’s, so yeah.
Len: So, what do you see as some of the major differences between raising kids then and raising kids today and, let me come back to you in just a moment, okay?
Theresa: Okay, sounds good.
Single Parent Challenges for 2013
Len: So this is Adventures in Single Parenting, Blog Talk radio. And to learn more about Adventures in Single Parenting, you can go to my website http://singleparenting.us. And click on my blog and you can also find a link to my latest book, second edition of “Adventures in Single Parenting” is now available in print.
So I’m back now with Therese Key, so Theresa, let’s fast forward a little bit and explore some of the differences between raising kids today and raising kids, say 10 or 15 years ago. What do you see as some of the major differences?
Theresa: Wow, that is a, that’s a huge question. Well, the technology piece that we experience every day, our smartphones and our iPads and things like that, that is really making a huge difference in how we parent. The media, the music, everything that’s going on, just kind of like, exposure, the kids that I have now, the young kids that I have now, they are more or less overexposed, or they’re constantly exposed to things that my son wasn’t exposed to until probably he was in high school.
So, now, I think communication is important, the child may be six. You’re going to have to have a conversation with the child that you may have had, you know, you heard your parents sit you down and have the conversation. Well, you may have to have the conversation with your 10 year old. So, and it’s something that is just a, because we are in, the things that are going on in the world, we see everything in real time.
It’s a YouTube kind of world where as soon as someone sees it, they capture it on the camera, it’s uploaded, and now you’ve got a million views of whatever just went down. And the kids literally have access to this information at school. They get tablets and they have access to the computer. Some of the kids, they don’t bother trying to break in and change passwords and hack into the technology, but others do.
So these are things that parents need to be aware of, they can’t necessarily go and turn, tell everyone I’m going to bed and turn on YouTube and think that your kid is safe. You can’t do that. YouTube is just a big virtual smorgasbord of information, good, bad and ugly and if you believe that you can just tune out and believe that your kids can be on your phone, on your iPad or on your, even on the TV, because a lot of the flat screen TV’s connect to the Internet and if the access it there, they’re just going to be overexposed. So these are the challenges of raising young kids right now in 2013.
Len: Yeah, I think those challenges are absolutely huge, and I agree with you, and let me come back, you mentioned having a conversation, I assume you’re thinking about a conversation about things like sex, or about drugs with kids and the need to have those conversations at a much younger age than we might have years ago because the information is readily available, and the misinformation is so readily available. I assume that’s what you’re thinking about. And I agree with you.
Theresa: Yeah, especially, I like what you just said, Len, about the misinformation, because just because we see something online or on video doesn’t mean that it’s real. and people forget that things can be staged, it can be a complete fake. I know you’ve seen it maybe on Facebook where someone will report a story that’s completely false. But because we see it going through the stream, people are like, ‘Oh my god, that’s horrible’ and you know, it’s not real.
Len : Right. That’s absolutely correct, in fact, you’re reminding me, I hope you don’t mind, I’m going to tell a very quick story from my own experience. It reminded me of my daughter, whom I was sitting down with having a conversation about sex and protection, etc., when she was in her early teens, she told me, ‘Dad, you can’t get pregnant if you only do it once.’
Len: And I’m going, well where’s this piece of information come from?
Dating and the Single Parent
Len: Yeah, yeah. It was just amazing to me. So tell me, when you were a single parent, did you date?
Theresa: I did, yes. I dated when I could, I juggled my schedule and I had a wonderful set of sitters to watch my son. I don’t believe at that time I introduced him to to many of my, just my friends in general, because he was very active, I didn’t think I should take him everywhere, but when I special date or something like that, I had support. So it’s really important to get support. That was just really kind of a blessing in disguise.
Len: So you didn’t find that the dating had a significant impact on your child? You sort of kept him out of that picture completely.
Theresa: Yeah. I didn’t date really seriously until I actually met my husband, and we were participating in athletics with my son. So I put my son in football and he was able to come out and participate and watch and help me and then things worked out. Things worked out really well. So I really recommend dating for single parents. Don’t just hide in the closet and don’t date and don’t just give up. Just try to schedule it and make sure that, I would actually say protect your children from your dating. How about that? I’ll put that out there.
Len: Okay. Yeah.
Theresa: Because it’s not really something that you have to introduce your child too every week, you know. I’m dating this new guy, you can’t do that.
Len: The date du jour?
Theresa: Right, the date du jour, yeah.
Len: You can’t introduce him to the date du jour, yeah.
Len: Okay. Yeah. So, did you every play around with online media, like dating sites like match.com or anything to find dates? What would you recommend to single women who are out there today?
Theresa: You know what, I believe, I think I went on one of those sites once, but it really, after a while, you’re like, okay, I have a list, I know who I want. Maybe he’s in this database. Nowadays, they’ve gone through a lot of screening, they’ve gotten a lot of bumps out of the process, the dating sites are kind of cool now. You can meet really nice people and you can really laser focus the type of person you want to meet and they’ll connect you.
But you also have to look at the credibility of the dating site. Is it just something that just looks like someone just threw it together? Don’t sign up for that. But the established names like maybe match.com or the other ones, they have national commercials right now where the guy, the actual founder of the company, he’s sitting with all the couples that got married, I forget the name of it, but the sites that are real and they actually work. Those are good sites.
You can also, if you’re not afraid of losing any friends and if it doesn’t work out, you can rely on referrals, people introducing you to other people. I think overall, and I don’t know in your experience, Len, overall, don’t you agree that it’s important to stay somewhat social as a single parent, even though you’re juggling?
Len: Oh, I think so, absolutely. To the best you can. But I found out also that the Brady Bunch works out much better on television than it does in real life. Integrating together families and children, it was really horrendously difficult.
Theresa: Yeah, yeah. It’s not an easy task. Either way it goes, you have to literally figure it out. So, yeah.
Single Parents Working From Home
So wow, you’ve been down the road, you’ve been a single parent. You’ve been a student while you’re a single parent. You’ve worked at home, you’ve worked many different jobs.
Let me give you an opportunity to talk a little bit to our listeners about your thoughts about single parents working from home. Is that realistic in today’s world and what do you offer, your services, what do you offer to single parents that can help them, perhaps, generate a little extra cash? I mean I know that, we all know that, single parents many times are financially stressed. So, what advice would you offer? Tell us about you and your services.
Theresa: Yeah, thank you. That’s actually an excellent question. Can single parents work from home? Definitely. I think we’re moving into a type of society where everyone is selling. We’re selling something. We’re either selling ourselves, we’re selling ideas, we’re selling something. And even if you’re like the PTA leader at your child’s school, you’re going to have to sell the rest of the parents on whey they need to work with you.
So, yes, as we move into kind of Internet world and we’ve got access to technology, I think single parents have it, I think they have a great opportunity to make money from home. Is it easy? No. In the sense that you have to sit down and figure out a game plan of what it is you want to do, and then you have to actually figure out what it’s going to cost you to learn to do what you want to do, if you haven’t learned it already, and then you have to go ahead and implement it.
Single parents don’t have a lot of time, we don’t have time, I didn’t have time, but when I was working my way through school, taking odd jobs as an independent, I literally sat down and researched how to become an independent contractor. I also decided that I wanted to file a DBA. I had to sit and learn what that was, you know what is that process? What is a DBA? Why do I need a business license, or why do I need a bank account to set up my business and what is all that about?
So all of that is the education process. Every single parent has this as an option and you know, now, all they need is a laptop, an iPad, or some type of device to communicate with their customers and they’re in business. Back then, you had to do a lot of paperwork, paper shuffling and driving around. But now, I think, single parents have options.
And as far as my coaching, I tend to coach new Internet marketers or those that have kind of been in the industry on how to tap into what they already know. My big thing about establishing Key Solution Experience, was the fact that I saw people who’d been working, they work a job, or they have a career in mind, and then they put all that on hold, the thing that they’re most passionate about, they put it on hold, and then they say, I’m going to focus on my daily tasks at work. I’m not going to do my side gig, my side idea, or the thing that makes me happy.
Well, you know, the funny thing about me working in corporate is anyone that had an idea, a big idea, and they wanted to do something. We would use our lunchtime to actually map it out and really be going to Kinko’s at the time, or making copies, or doing things like that. Doing side projects to earn additional income and having fun at the same time.
So, single parents, it’s a stressful-type thing because you’re wearing so many hats, but you can become an entrepreneur, take time to learn what it is you need to do, and then you can start seeing progress. You can start seeing additional income coming in. So I would recommend it to anybody. I’m a total advocate for single parents becoming entrepreneurs.
Len: Now, when you go on Facebook these days, and other social media you see lots of ads, for you know, ‘Buy my system here and you’ll make $10,000. I made $10,000 the first month and you can do it too. Here’s how you do it, sign up here.’ What would you say about those kinds of ads? Do you have any comments about that?
Theresa: Yeah. I would say, look at the ad, and take note on this guys. Look at that ad and look at what makes it work. Look at how the headline works, look at what they’re saying and the bonuses, the bullet points or the benefits. And make sure that they have a return policy and know that policy.
Len: Are there any get rich quick schemes out there?
Theresa: Of course. Yes. I mean, the Internet is a smorgasbord of information and people are selling information. They’re not seeking results, so the results only come with hard work. They only come when you take a strategy that they’re going to give away. There’s tons of free information out there. You can take a strategy, go implement it and create your own results. When someone says to you, I made $100,000 a month and you can too, there is some fact there, and then there’s something that’s designed to get you excited so that you click the button.
The fact is, let’s say they did make $100,000 a month, you may have to make an investment to find out a little bit about how they did it. And I say in all honestly, a little bit about how they did, because it’s going to require more work to find out the full, the big picture of how it’s done. So, yes, the money online is real. The money, there are people that take advantage of that, though, so you have to be careful.
Len: Okay. We’re in our final minutes, so I want to give you a chance to tell our listeners how they can get in touch with you if they want to learn more about how they can work with Theresa.
Theresa: OK. Well, if you want to get in touch with me, to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur online, or if you would like personal coaching, you can reach me at www.meetTkey.com. That’s M-E-E-T–T-K-E-Y-.COM. And I’m also, since I’m very involved in social media, I’m also on Facebook, on LinkedIn and a couple other places. So you can Google me and we can be in touch and see if I can help you.
Len: Alright. Well, Theresa, it’s been a real pleasure. We have about 15 seconds left here and the show is over, so I want to thank you for being with me, and hope we can do it again sometime soon.
Theresa: Thanks so much, Len. It has been a pleasure.
Len: Alright, talk to you again. Bye, Theresa.
Len: And that, ladies and gentlemen, wraps up our show for today. This is Len Mooney at Adventures in Single Parenting. And once again, you can get to my book and my blog and my website at http://singleparenting.us. Bye, for now.