Parenting as a Single Parent

Life sometimes leaves us in difficult circumstances with big challenges. Being a single parent is one of those challenges.  We have been saying that it takes two people in partnership to live out a healthy relationship for the children to witness. I don’t see being a single parent as a “second class” option or an impossible task, but being a single parent requires different coping skills. The needs of the children are the same. We just have to get to our goal by a different path.

Partnerships are still vitally important

A single parent must still face the reality that they bring only one set of “conditional and unconditional” love perspectives to the task. Don’t make the mistake of hastily trying to find a new spouse to fill the balancing role. There are many miserable people that would testify to the foolishness of “finding a new father” for my child, or a feeling that “my child must have a mother”, and moving too quickly into a new relationship. Being a single parent is not the end of the world, it is only a new challenge to which you must adapt. Partnerships bring the balance that a spouse might have otherwise provided. We have heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child”.  Embrace the concept of village when you face being a single parent.

Let the village become that other part of the partnership

It is never an easy or simple task to find partners. Looking at villages where you can find partners is just as complicated. The most important thing to remember is that you are looking for like-minded partner-groups. I am using a very old Biblical (Amos 3:3) word picture about two people who share a common goal even when they go about things differently. There were twelve men who followed Jesus as disciples. They each had their own personalities, passions and gifts. The one thing they had in common was their love for their teacher and Lord. Sometimes single parents get caught up in single parent groups that seem to have this one reality in common. But looking closer, the group may have toxic elements, or bitter and resentful ideas buried inside their attitudes. Steer clear of groups that build walls instead of building healthy people.

Many single parents find that partnership in a village called the Church

Not all churches make partnerships with single parents. I’m sorry to admit that fact.  However, there are many congregations who obey the command of Jesus to show the love of God toward those who need the support and fellowship of the Body of Christ (the Bible’s name for the Church). I like the concept of the Church being a “body” because it is easy to see the various parts with different functions working together in harmony. You can tell very quickly which congregations are open to being partners with you. Remember, these church-partners will not replace the missing parent but they can be important partners with you to give you the balance and encouragement you need. Single parents need to stay healthy. Finding a congregation or support group can be the village that helps keep both children and the single parent healthy and balanced.

Photo credit: Sean Dreilinger licensed under Creative Commons

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