This post was originally published on St. Louis American
Mia Daugherty was adamant about her 7-year-old daughter, Zara, 7, writing a happy book instead of one that evoked sadness and discussed their home life.
“When I heard her words I realized this is so much bigger than me not wanting our business to be outside of our house,” Mia said.
“There is an epidemic in this country. There are a lot of children who are suffering silently. I’ve seen my daughter suffer. I will never forget the times she was stood up [by her father.] I remember her looking out the window. She went out on the porch to look at the cars passing. She came into the house and asked why [her father] didn’t say he wasn’t coming.”
Zara wrote her book “Broken Promises,” to share the experience of having an absent parent. Her mother Mia and Mia’s brother are her guardians.
“What inspired me to write this book is that I wanted kids to know its okay to cry,” Zara said. “And if somebody breaks their promise, then they can go outside and play and do something fun.”
Zara said it makes her sad not having her dad around because he used to live with them. However, her mother makes up for his absence by taking her someplace special once a week.
Mia has had adults approach her about the book and tell her how it’s helped them with their childhood abandonment issues.
“I’ve talked to adults who said the book brought them to tears,” Mia said. “There was a dad who came up to me and said he was ‘that kid looking out the window for his father’ and two years ago he addressed those things from his childhood.”
The balancing act of being a working professional and mother to two kids isn’t easy for Mia. She admits it can be challenging and overwhelming. When she learned she was pregnant with Zara, she said she made it her duty to not allow the situation to define her.
“I didn’t look at my situation as ‘woe it’s me, what am I gonna do,’” Mia said.
“I knew what I needed to put into my daughter from the womb because her situation wasn’t going to define her, our situation was not gonna define her outcome.”
Zara is nearing the end of her second grade year at Mallinckrodt Academy of Gifted Instruction. She reads at a fourth grade level. She also plays basketball, baseball, and runs track.
“I knew it was inevitable to be proactive since her other parent’s role didn’t exist,” Mia said.
“I knew this was going to affect her at some point later on in her life.”
Among the challenges Mia has faced as a single parent is that she feels she has to prove her parenting skills to others.
“It’s almost like a stain to where I have to prove myself [even with Zia being a published author at 7], just making sure that she has everything she needs to be successful,” Mia said.
“Sometimes I feel like because it’s just me, my daughter gets more of the rushed version of mom because I’m having to be all over the place making sure that she has everything she needs.”
Mia has also been proactive in having successful father figures in her daughter’s life.
“I made sure from birth she had a very close relationship with my father, who is her ‘papa. ‘Papa’ is her world,” Mia said.
“My brother is her godfather. I made sure to fill in the gaps and she knows that even though her dad isn’t around she has other male figures who play a pivotal role in her life.”
Zara said she wants the book to help other kids in knowing they can cry and be sad, but also go outside and play to help them cope with their feelings.
Zara is hosting her 8th birthday party and book launch party on noon-4 p.m. May 27 at Clay Elementary School, located at 3820 N 14th St. “Broken Promises,” is available for purchase on Amazon.