Parenting with a dedicated spouse alongside you is a difficult endeavor in of itself. When a person is divorced or widowed, the challenges increase greatly.
So how is a single parent (or remarried parent) to go about their difficult duties of raising children?
While it’s hard to give advice that applies to every situation, there are some common recurring issues. Here is a list of “10 Tips for Single Parenting.”
- Don’t bash your ex-spouse. No divorce has ever been one-sided. The only way it could be one-sided if one of the spouses was perfect (and Jesus never got married). Even if your ex-spouse is far away from God, he or she has a pivotal role in your child’s life. Don’t use your words for evil (James 3:6).
- Don’t bash your child’s stepparent. While your child’s stepparent may not be your favorite person in the world, he or she is in your child’s life. Your best efforts could be spent praying for that person rather than bashing that person (Prov. 10:19). Your child’s stepparent will never replace you, but it might backfire with your child if you stoop to attacking his or her stepparent.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Regardless of the reason you are no longer married, you are at a disadvantage, but you don’t have to remain isolated. God has put the Church together to help out in areas in which we are weak (Acts 2:45-47). Don’t assume someone knows. Ask for help.
- Don’t settle for less than God’s best. There is something worse than being a single parent, and that is marrying an ungodly person just so your children can have a “replacement” parent. Don’t make the same mistake again (Prov. 26:11). Too often, single parents drown in parental pressure and decide to settle for standards less than what they know is God’s best in a future mate.
- Don’t live in the past. The past is in the past – keep it there! The pain you experienced from your loss is real, but God is able to carry you (Deut. 1:30-31) and God’s people are there to comfort you (2 Cor. 1:3-5).
- Don’t use your children for revenge. Your children have unfortunately had to go through the pain that led to a single parent family. Don’t add pain on top of that by using them as ammunition to repay someone that hurt you. Your time would be better spent repairing your children than using your children to injure another (Prov. 14:26).
- Don’t be overwhelmed with guilt. We all have mistakes from our past, but if we have experienced godly grief leading to repentance, we should not live in regret (2 Cor. 7:10). For those in Christ, we no longer have condemnation (Rom. 8:1), so we should not continue in shame for past mistakes.
- Don’t overcompensate with your children. Oftentimes, parents feel so sorry for children in single parent situations that they enable their children for bad behavior. You are called to raise your children in the instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), don’t let your past give them a free pass for future ungodly living. Gifts and opportunities cannot replace what they lost. Stay committed to godly parenting.
- Don’t believe that you are a second-rate family. While you are at a disadvantage, you are not second-rate. Many of Scripture’s heroes came from less-than-ideal homes (2 Tim. 1:5), and God dwells with those in unfortunate family situations (Ps. 68:5).
- Do trust the Lord with all your heart. As you walk down this journey, remember these words: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).