When the Other Parent Is Not There
It is no secret to anyone reading this right now that not only our nation, but also our world, has seen a surge of single parent homes over the past few decades. As a single mom myself, my home factors into those statistics. I am blessed to have grown up in a very solid home with a wonderful mom and dad who will celebrate 37 years of marriage this year. When asked to write this blog post on discussing the issue of helping children when only one parent is in the home and the other parent is not there, I began to think how incompetent I am in this matter. But then God began to deal with me and quicken passages of Scriptures in my head.
While I may not know what it is like to grow up in a single parent home, I have been the single parent in my home now for the past 12 years. Of those 12 years not all of them have been lived serving God. I was a prodigal child who returned home to a Pentecostal altar six years ago and God has healed me, transformed me and helped me daily to be the mom I need to be to my daughter. Today I would simply like to share with you some things I have learned along the way and some principles I live by. Here are 12 steps to help you and your children live a life at home when the other parent is not as involved as you or your children would like and/or is non existent.
1. Pray, Read your Bible on a daily Basis, and Trust God!!
Developing a set time each day to read your Bible and pray is going to be a foundational principle in your role as a single parent and helping your kid/kids. I know you may say you don’t have time, but if you want God to begin to make changes in your home, then there is a sacrifice that comes with it. It may mean waking up 20 minutes before everyone else and taking 10 minutes to read the Bible and 10 minutes to pray. Your biggest battles are won on your knees in prayer. The Bible says in Isaiah 55:9 (NLT):
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
We need His wisdom and guidance to make it through daily to be the best parent to our children.
2. Have an attitude of Gratitude
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) – Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8: 28 (KJV) – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
It is no doubt easy to become angry with and bitter towards God for your current situation. I can relate so well to those feelings. Trust me, this is certainly not the life I ever envisioned for myself growing up. But I am thankful for my situation for many reasons but the main one being that I now know God in a way I never thought I would. As Andraé Crouch sang in “Through It All,”
I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know God could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in the Word of God could do.
When my daughter was about five or six years old we started a nightly ritual of making a list of five things we were thankful for that day. My daughter now does this out of habit. Start a new ritual with your children to help them overcome and be thankful. A recent study shown on the Huffington Post portrayed the health benefits of being grateful. It’s not just a heart issue but a health issue. The health of you and your children depends on your attitude of gratitude.
3. Don’t live a romanticized life always wishing your life were different. Accept your current situation and move forward.
For many years I wanted so desperately for the father of my child to be involved in her life. No matter how ugly I was treated, I longed for him to be involved in her life as her father, thinking if he were involved, my life would somehow be made easier and my daughter better-rounded. I would drive hours to take my daughter to see him, spending my money and taking time off of work to try and forge that relationship. It took a few years, a lot of tears, and ultimately a counsel session with my pastor for me to realize how unhealthy expectations were hurting my daughter and me more than anyone else. Accept your life for what it is and move forward; do not look back. If the other parent wants to be involved in your child’s or children’s life, they will find a way. It is not your responsibility to make them the parent they are not.
4. Seek counsel from your Pastor on important matters in your home.
Proverbs 11:14 – (ASV) – Where no wise guidance is, the people falleth; But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
God has placed authority in our lives for a reason. If you have prayed about a certain issue and are still not getting anywhere, or if there are serious issues beyond what you feel capable of handling, please seek the counsel of your pastor. If you feel as though you need counseling to help you or your children, I highly encourage you to ask your pastor or leadership team at your church about where you can seek apostolic counseling. Try to stay with a counselor who is Spirit-filled and believes the Acts 2:38 message. The church I attend, Calvary Pentecostal Church, in Euless, Texas, is actually starting a counseling center and they offer nationwide counseling services. Here is their contact info:
5. Do not compare yourselves to others
I love the saying
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Perhaps it is because I can relate so very well to it. I used to compare myself so much to moms whose husbands worked full-time jobs and they got to stay at home and be the super-involved moms. I always felt guilty and like a failure. There was absolutely nothing wrong with them; the problem was with me. I had to learn to stop comparing myself and just be the best that I could be given the situation I have. Likewise, do not compare your children to other children.
6. Whatever expectations you have of your child’s other parent, you need to allow God to fulfill those expectations in your own life.
Isaiah 53:5 (NLT) “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”
It is easy to play the blame game. However, rather than playing the blame game, look to God to heal whatever brokenness you have. God is deeply acquainted with the pain you and your children might be feeling. He felt it on the way to the cross. So no matter how alone you may feel on this journey, just know that God can and wants to relate to you. Allow Him to fulfill your needs.
7. Start a journal.
If you have gone through a divorce, a harsh break up, or really just life, often times our friends and family expect us to move forward much more quickly than we are ready to. A journal is a great healing tool to help you “get it all out.”
8. Do not use social media to bash the other parent and do not bash the other parent in front of your kids.
Bashing the other parent in no way helps your situation and may cause your children to develop the feeling that it is their fault everything has gone wrong.
9. Do not expect immediate results.
The Bible continually admonishes us to have patience.
Hebrews 12:1 (KJV) “Run with patience….”
Psalm 27:14 (NIV) “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
I have been back in the church for six years now and I can tell you I am just now at a point where I feel as though God has healed me enough to where I can help others. Do not rush your children or yourself for that matter to “just get over it.” Accept the fact that healing takes time. Be patient and trust God to do a complete work.
10. Seek support through your local singles group at church
If you do not have a singles class at your church, go to your pastor and talk to him about starting one. The Single Adult Ministry of the UPCI will have resources to help get one started. I cannot tell you what a difference it has made in my walk with the Lord to have like-minded friends who are in similar situations to mine as we encourage each other on a daily and weekly basis.
11. Hide the word of God in your heart and in your children’s hearts.
Memorize Scripture yourself and with your kids which deals with God being our Father and His infinite love for us. Here are two to start with:
Psalm 68:5 (NIV): A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Romans 8:38-39 (KJV): “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
12. Last but not least, know that this too shall pass.
Yesterday my pastor, Rev. Carl McLaughlin, made a profound statement which has stuck with me:
“I would rather be in a storm in the will of God, than to be on land out of the will of God.”
Storms and trials don’t last always, but if you are in the storm of your life, it is better to have Jesus with you than to be trying to steer the ship alone. Don’t quit the church! Just hang in there! Don’t give up! You ARE going to make it!
We cannot control every single aspect of our child or children’s physical and emotional health. Worrying about how our kids are going to turn out is living a defeated life. Praying for them and living a daily life with the knowledge that we are over-comers amounts to living a victorious life. I know my daughter is inevitably going to have to face difficult things in the future but what I can do today is lay a foundation for her so that when she gets into a situation she will know what Mommy did: pray and trust God.