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PARENTING

Help! I'm a Single Mom

By Dr. Richard D. Dobbins
EMERGE Ministries

CBN.com -- There are 19 million single parents in the United States. Fifty-nine percent of American children will live in a single-parent family at least once during their minor years. The church has always been challenged to help single mothers and their children. James 1:27 says that we should care for widows and orphans.

There are many circumstances that create single mothers. A woman who gets pregnant while unmarried is a single mom with a different set of concerns than the married woman whose husband dies or the woman who is divorced.

In talking with single mothers, there are many things they have found helpful in establishing a healthy home for their children. Here are five of the most important.

A STRONG FAITH

Hagar, the servant girl, was thrown out of the home of Abraham and Sarah. She was left to wander in the desert with Ishmael in isolation (see Genesis 16). God sent an angel to minister to her. Single moms are special to God. If you read about Hagar, you will find that in her desperation she cried to God, "Thou, God, seest me" (verse 13). And He did; He came alongside of her and ministered to her. He showed that He has a tender place in His heart for single moms.

Every single parent, just like Hagar, needs a strong faith in God. That faith needs to be brought to bear upon the particular needs that have resulted from her being a single mother.

For example, the single mom who is abandoned by the man who has gotten her pregnant is without marriage, without a husband. One of her strongest needs is to deal with the resentment, the anger, and the outrage she has for this man who took advantage of her. He may have convinced her that he loved and was committed to her, but then abandoned her when he found she was pregnant. That resulted in her having a lot of anger, resentment, and ambivalence to deal with.

She needs a strong faith in God so she can trust Him with the feelings she has toward the man who has abandoned her, as well as the overwhelming responsibility she feels in raising the child.

The divorced single mother has the ambivalence of divorce to deal with. She needs God's help as someone she can trust with her feelings of outrage and anger, abandonment and rejection. Until she has prayed these things through to God, she is not only dealing with the complications of a single mom's life, but also dealing with a lot of emotional baggage that God wants to lift off.

Every single parent needs a strong faith in God. As busy as life is, all single parents should find a few minutes every day to read the Bible and learn to talk to God on the run.

A SUPPORT SYSTEM

The church is a very important part of a single parent's support system. For example, think of what youth groups could do to help single moms. If you are living in a climate that has a lot of snow, they could aid in shoveling her sidewalks; in the summertime they could mow grass; and any time of year they could make themselves available to help that mom in her home.

Groups of men could take on projects of painting and other household maintenance tasks that single moms cannot afford to pay for.

A woman's family is a logical source of support for her. Sometimes when a woman becomes a single mom, she may move hundreds of miles to be closer to her family in order to have their support.

Church singles groups can also be important, and I would encourage single moms to find a church that has a large, active singles ministry, and make that the home church.

A SECURE JOB

Smart employers are tapping into the single parents labor market by providing industry-funded daycare. These are excellent arrangements for single moms, because you can check on your child during your lunchtime and rest breaks. Also, you and your child have the same destination in the morning and you go home together at night.

Today, there is a lot of flextime in industries where you can work while your children are in school, and then be home before they are home from school. There are freelance jobs that you can do right from your home. Be sure you explore these opportunities.

Job sharing is a new and cutting-edge idea. It is perhaps more prominent on the West Coast, but it is becoming popular across the country and presents itself in many forms. Sometimes women will trade days of the week, one working Monday, Wednesday and Friday, one Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday or they may trade off mornings and afternoons. People can become very creative and flexible in organizing their job time around their family needs.

A SAFE PLACE FOR YOUR CHILDREN

We live in a predatory society, and single parents cannot afford to ignore this. Be careful about the people you count on for childcare. Family members usually make the best providers. Unless you know any other adults that may be in the home of a single caregiver, do not leave your children there.

Inquire about government-funded programs that may be available for you. Finding a safe place for your children is among your greatest challenges as a single mom.

Talk to your children about the kinds of touches that are good touches and bad touches. Make clear to them that they can come and talk to you if anyone is touching them in an unhealthy way. If anyone touches them in the genital areas, they should know that, even if those people are members of the family, you want to know about that right away.

They should be confident in coming to you with that kind of information, and know that you will help them, be there for them, and protect them.

Be aware concerning the Christian commitment of the people you are leaving your children with. What are their lifestyles like? What is permitted in their homes? What do they allow their own children to do? In these days, if there is a computer in the home that is not carefully guarded, a small child can accidentally get into a world he or she should never be exposed to.

SOME TIME FOR YOURSELF

Everyone needs some time alone, but this is especially true for single parents. Making a martyr out of yourself for your children will take its toll on the quality of your relationship with them.

Over time, develop a reliable list of childcare providers. Then, take some time out for yourself. Teach your children that you will be less irritable and more patient with them when you have some "down time" for yourself. Make this happen every week.

Some single moms are guilt-prone. If they take the time to have fun and enjoy life, they feel like they should be doing something for their children instead. If you are one of these, you need to develop a repertoire of things that will get you away from the children for just an hour, maybe two, so that you can relax and be involved in something entirely different.

Do not feel self-indulgent and guilty about it; that is part of taking good care of your children. If you are going to be a good steward of yourself and of your children, then resting, relaxing, and getting some recreation once in a while is part of that.

God has a special place in His heart for single parents. Talk to Him on a regular basis about being overwhelmed by the needs of your children. Ask Him for wisdom, patience, and guidance. He wants to come alongside of you and strengthen you for your task.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, confess your sins and invite Him into your life today. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He wants you to know His highest and best.


Taken from DayForward OnLine.

Dr. Richard D. Dobbins is the leader of EMERGE Ministries of Akron, Ohio. He serves on the faculty of Ashland Theological Seminary and initiated the coordination of their masters program in Pastoral Counseling. An acclaimed author, Dr. Dobbins has created numerous film/video presentations on topics of interest to believers and has written many books, booklets, articles and audiotapes on Christian mental health care.

Copyright 2001 EMERGE Ministries, Akron, Ohio. Used with persmission.

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