In my years of ministry, I have become increasingly aware that one of the most difficult challenges facing single parents is the combination of raising the children alone and dealing with overwhelming financial strains.
Single parents can be effective even though–for whatever reasons–they walk alone.
Here are some helpful tips for the single parent.
- Recognize your role. The single parent who says “I have to be both mother and father to my child” is attempting the impossible. Your obligation does not go beyond being the very best mother or father you can be. It may be helpful, however, to find a trustworthy, spiritually mature uncle or aunt, or a grandfather or grandmother, to provide the masculine or feminine influences your child will need in his/her maturing development.
- Let your child be a child. Because of the great void that single parents feel in their lives, they often burden their children with the responsibility of being to them what their mates were. But let’s fact it, children cannot possibly offer adults emotional support. It is asking too much. Despite the single parent’s crisis, he or she must be careful to allow his or her child or children to grow and develop like any other child would develop.
- Be the parent. The single parent, desiring acceptance, may want to become the child’s “best friend.” This is dangerous for a couple of reasons: 1. You will be disappointed, simply because a child cannot meet you on adult terms. They do not have the mature, relational framework that is necessary to provide confidence and encouragement to a parent. 2. Your youngster needs a parent, not a “buddy.” single parents must make every effort to maintain their parental role.
- Avoid resentful criticism. Single parents may be inclined to say unkind things to their children about the absent parent in some cases. You’ll do well, however, not to give in to this temptation. Do not use your children as “secret agents” during their visits to find out what your ex-mate is doing. Do not go through the ritual of playing “20 questions” every time your child returns home to you. To do so is unfair to them, because it makes them feel like they are being used to spy on the other parent, thus confusing their loyalties. They will feel caught between both parents.
- Provide security. You can give your children the security they need by creating an atmosphere of stability. Children need to feel secure. As much as possible, be positive in your outlook and avoid separating your children from the familiar things with which they feel comfortable.
- Get help when needed. If you feel yourself “losing it” as a parent, or if you see that your child is having severe difficulties in making adjustments, seek guidance from your pastor or a Christian counselor. Watch for prolonged drops in grades, nightmares, regression to childish talk, negative actions or attitudes, or any other behavior that is out of the ordinary. It is better to act too soon on these problems than too late.
Many single parents are “wounded people” who need compassion and understanding.
They deserve the attention and ministry of the church.
The church must choose to offer them the the kind of loving help Christ has brought to everyone.
Related Article: The Church and the Single Parent
Condensed and adapted from the book Single, but Not Alone.
Whatever your age, whether you’re never-married, divorced, widowed or a single parent…Single, but Not Alone gives you an in-depth look at the unique needs of each person.
- Gives tips and advice on facing challenges and solving problems
- Tells how singles fit into the ministry of the church and what the church can offer them
- Explains why it is OK to be single
- Reveals advantages to being single
- Looks at how to deal with stress and how to experience emotional healing
- Addresses God’s expectations for singles
- and much more