One of life’s greatest blessings and sources of joy is being called somebody’s parent. But if you find yourself raising children alone, you know better than anyone else that parenting is a job meant for two. That’s why Dr. James Dobson calls single parenting “the toughest job in the universe.” Few understand the loneliness and emotional hurt many single parents carry or how exhausting the role can be. So, how can you be hopeful and experience joyful success as a parent despite more challenging circumstances?
PRIORITY ONE: Lean on our Heavenly Father
Every parent is called to look to our Heavenly Father first as the perfect model for how we are to love and parent. We must parent faithfully in the midst of pain, but simply put, we cannot give away what we do not have. If we are not taking care of ourselves spiritually, and finding meaningful time with our Heavenly Father, our own efforts will NOT be enough. No matter whether we are a single parent or not. Christ is our source of strength, joy, peace, and hope.
PRIORITY TWO: Keep your child’s best in mind
Every parent is called to lay aside his or her own interests for the children. That calling takes extra commitment when you’re going it alone. You may still be working through the painful circumstances that led to becoming a solo parent, or deal with an ex-spouse who is a negative influence on the children, or who tries to turn them against you to cause even more pain.
Regardless of the emotions your specific circumstances may be causing, you are called to place your child’s needs above your own. Make it your greatest priority to point them to Christ. One of the best ways that you can do that, is to give them as much stability and nurturing as possible within your limitations—even when they don’t seem to appreciate the sacrifice you’re making. Be assured, the Lord receives your selfless caring as an act of worship to Him because it reflects the spirit of Christ who “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…” (Philippians 2:7).
Being a servant includes doing your best to maintain a Christ-like attitude when you go through the headaches of court appointments, seeing your ex with a new romantic interest, juggling financial challenges, maintaining a home, or having people ask awkward questions about your family. It is crucial to remember that even as we are hurt or feel wronged, that we are not called to criticize or seek vengeance (Rom. 12:17-21). It is in the midst of difficult circumstances that our faith is put into action. So, allow your children to see your faith on display by trusting in the Lord with your words and your actions despite the circumstances.
Putting your children first is also a priority if you don’t have custody—if you are limited to small windows of time together. Those times are your opportunity to show love and influence and not to get caught up in disagreements over parenting differences. In your visitation, in your support, and all other connections, your first priority is serving the needs of your children, and helping them foster their relationship with Christ.
PRIORITY THREE: Choose good relationships
Few people understand the load that single parents carry. You’re likely to be under stress with extra work and the constant demands of parenting. The loneliness and desire to be loved that comes with single-parenting can lead you toward relationships with the opposite sex that may be harmful. Instead, focus on finding Christ-centered community.
It is crucial to find and form healthy Christian friendships that can help you face the demands of single parenting and make wise decisions through it all. It is vital that you seek to be a part of a community of believers committed to forgiveness, redemption, and growth. Remember, you and your children both need the support and modeling of other Christians.
PRIORITY FOUR: Become intentional
Be careful not to see yourself as a “second class” parent. Raising children alone is harder, but the goal is the same for you as it is for two parent families – to nurture a vibrant walk with Christ in your children. That means becoming intentional about building a strong relationship, modeling Godly character, and creating occasions for meaningful interaction about life’s most important truths. Remember, it is no accident that God gave you the blessing of children. He also is eager to give you the grace to be the parent they need.
Recommended Books -Available from the Faith @ Home Center
Successful Single Parenting (by Gary Richmond, a single-parent pastor) provides practical help and Biblical principles for balancing your needs with those of your children
Going Further – Church Support
Life Group Ministry: Authentic Christian community and mentoring is available through Riverview’s Life Group ministry. Contact our Life Groups pastor Michael Beene at [email protected] for more info.
Pastoral Counseling: Pastors are available to counsel those who would like more Godly wisdom on this issue. Please call the church office for more info: 573-348-3515
Faith @ Home Mentoring: Mentors who can offer biblical advice and support are available. Talk with a faith @ home team-member at the faith @ home center to learn more.
“Parenting on Purpose”: is a short-term course that is offered to parents who are interested in becoming intentional with the spiritual growth of their children. Contact our Next Generation and Life Groups pastor Michael Beene at [email protected] for more info.