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Flying Solo and SucceedingSuccess with God as Your Partner
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
She denied that her husband had shut himself off from her. Maybe he was just a ngry about something. Surely he would get over it. In truth, he had never been open with his feelings. Then, a week before their oldest child’s tenth birthday, he announced, “I’m just not happy.… I ne ed to get away and find myself.” Within days, he had packed his clothes and left. This wife and mother felt devastated, yet she still held out hope that he would return and no one would ever know. She told no one although she tried to explain his absence to the older two children. The baby wouldn’t understand. Fear gripped her heart as she gradually faced the possibility that he would never come back home … then she cried out, “ Oh, God, I can’t do this alone!” In this true scenario, the crisis led her to accept Christ as her Savior. That is when she experienced the Lord saying to her, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
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Whatever you’re facing, your life matters, and God wants you to live in victory. Today is a great day to begin.
Who Is a Single Parent?
A single parent is an adult who has c ustody of at least one child and manages the family without a marriage partner.
—unde rstandably the most difficult role on earth! What single parent has not brooded over these thoughts:
- How can I parent my child alone without feeling lonely?
- I need to take care of my kids without them needing to take care of me!
- How can I fill the role of both mother and father? I feel I have to have help!
The Bible says help is near. The Lord will be your constant help when you need to be upheld.
God’s Hope: Although you may think you have taken on more trouble than you can bear, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Goals for Personal Growth
- A closer relationship with the Lord
- As you rely on Christ to give you strength, your trust in his faithfulness deepens.
- A closer relationship with your children
- You can choose to spend more quality time with your children and to become more sensitive to their needs.
- A stronger sense of self-confidence
- Meeting the needs of your children provides a sense of accomplishment and develops their confidence in your ability as a provider.
- A stronger training ground to build character
- Children in single parent families usually learn responsibility sooner and gain maturity earlier.
- A deeper joy in parenthood
- Single parents assume more responsibility and develop a wider range of relational and practical skills.
- A deeper joy in life
- Single parents tend to set priorities more carefully and to develop a greater sense of appreciation for what they have.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Four Stages of Single Parenting
Be optimistic … even when you don’t feel like it. Optimism is one of the most important ingredients for making your way through the stew of emotions you will experience. As long as you are optimistic, you are hopeful. And just as fear is passed on to those around you, optimism is also contagious. Normally, single parents move back and forth between these four stages of healing … always moving toward the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
The “helpless” single parent is often overwhelmed and feels a desperate need for the stability of someone else.
- “I can’t make it alone.”
- “I can’t handle the responsibility.”
- “I’ll never be happy again.”
- “It’s hopeless.”
- emotional extremes
- outbursts of tears
- deep depression
- desire to die
- The adult may feel isolated and alone and may withdraw from family and family responsibilities.
- The child may feel the need to be super responsible and becomes the “protector.”
“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
The “hanging-on” single parent is one who is in partial denial, clinging to the previous partner for personal identity and security.
- “You are my source of security.”
- “You are my source of happiness.”
- “The children and I have to have you in our lives.”
- “The children are doomed without a ‘whole’ family.”
- desperate pleading
- misplaced identity
- The adult may despair of having a “normal life” again or ever again experiencing joy and happiness.
- The child may feel the need to fix the hurting parent and become the “emotional provider.”
“For in him [God] we live and move and have our being.”
The “heroic” single parent is one who appears totally self-sufficient and is determined to look like the successful single parent, trying to cover all the bases and juggle all the responsibilities. This parent often tires and wears down and finally burns out.
- “There’s nothing I can’t handle.”
- “I will succeed no matter what.”
- “The children and I are doing great.”
- “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
- unwilling to be vulnerable
- fearful of failure
- The adult may feel the need to fix everything, refusing help from anyone else, trying to convey an air of self-sufficiency.
- The child may feel no need to rely on the Lord because the parent is self-sufficient.
“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”
(2 Corinthians 3:5)
The “hopeful” single parent is one who realizes that sufficiency is not in one’s self or in others but is found by relying on the Lord.
- “Our future is in God’s hands.”
- “I will rely on God to provide our needs.”
- “I am thankful for my deeper walk with Christ.”
- “I believe God’s Word that I am complete in Christ.”
- secure in the Lord
- The adult will depend on Christ to meet each God-given inner need—the need for love, significance and for security.
- The child is secure, knowing the parent’s confidence is in the promises of God.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
(2 Peter 1:3–4)
Do’s and Don’ts for Single Parents
A Christian lawyer who experienced an unwanted separation and divorce knows the weight on the shoulders of a single parent. He writes in his well-acclaimed book, “If separation or divorce is like a death to us as adults, we can only begin to imagine the devastating impact it has on our children.”
Single parents will do well to remember his bottom-line reminder: “Our children need blessing and acceptance from us—a warm acknowledgement that they are loved and appreciated as individuals.”
- Don’t hang on to negative feelings.
- Do … Forgive the absent parent.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
- Don’t try to be the father and mother.
- Do … Be the wisest parent possible in your God-given role.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
- Don’t think your children are “doomed” or “permanently damaged.”
- Do … Know that God has a plan for them and that they can reach their full potential.
“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
- Don’t try to hide your emotions from your child.
- Do … Be vulnerable. Let your child know who you really are as a person.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
- Don’t criticize the absent parent.
- Do … Mention positive attributes of the absent parent and, if possible, give children the opportunity to build a relationship with the absent parent.
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)
- Don’t live on borrowed money.
- Do … Set a budget and involve the children in the planning.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
- Don’t take on the financial burden alone.
- Do … Count on God to fulfill financial needs.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
- Don’t do everything for your children.
- Do … Give them household chores with daily, weekly and monthly schedules.
“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”
- Don’t overcompensate by buying too much for your children.
- Do … Realize that you can’t buy what your children need the most.
“Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.”
- Don’t accept disrespect from your children.
- Do … Realize that when fear of rejection rules you, it can lead to passive parenting.
“Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.”
- Don’t expect your children to fill your emotional needs.
- Do … Pursue friendships that will give emotional support and role modeling.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
- Don’t look to the world for advice and approval.
- Do … Look to God and His Word for correction and instruction.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
- Don’t exaggerate or make impossible commitments.
- Do … “Keep your promises.”
“A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.”
- Don’t be pessimistic about the future.
- Do … “Look for the positive.” Create a sense of adventure and excitement about a new life. Provide assurance regarding the child’s basic needs.
“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
- Don’t make your child feel guilty for continuing to love the absent parent.
- Do … “Be fair” not only to the absent parent but to their parents as well (your child’s grandparents).
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
- Don’t shelter your child from the reality of their painful situation.
- Do … “Teach them about disappointment.” Life is sometimes unfair and disappointing.
“Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed. My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees.”
- Don’t exclude the absent parent in making parental decisions.
- Do … “Cooperate with your spouse in co-parenting as much as possible, setting mutual goals and discipline boundaries.”
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”
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God desires to give you hope as you face life challenges, problems and difficult trials. The good news for us, God specializes in redemption and transformation. He takes that which was lost and restores it. He takes that which was dead and gives it life. He takes that which had no hope and rewrites its story. This is our God! As you pray today, ask God boldly to transform the thing inside you that you want to see changed forever!
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