By Sharon Dickens (Director of Women’s Ministries for 20schemes & a Single Mother)
The great parenting challenge of our day is raising Godly young men but, perhaps a greater challenge yet, is doing so as as a single mother. As more single women are coming to Christ in schemes, a key question is:
“How can we raise Godly young men when the father is absent, and we’re on our own?”
Let me start out by saying that I accept, unequivocally, that God intended children to be raised by both parents. The problem in our community, and I suspect it is the same in yours, is that not all family circumstances are exactly ideal. You may have, as we do, single parents trying to raise their children in a Godly manner within difficult and complex circumstances. We must not, therefore, underestimate the importance of the local church family when it comes to pastoral issues regarding single parent parenting and discipleship. God in His infinite wisdom gave the fatherless their local church family who should be actively involved in the life situation(s) of all their members.
Raising young men on your own is so much more different than raising a young woman. Of course, boys and girls are equal in terms of spiritual worth, but they have different roles and needs within life and society. So, how do we single mothers help our sons grow up to be a good, Godly man?
1. Rely on God: Its seems such an obvious statement but, as single women carrying the burden of both the role of mother and father, it is a seriously hard task. There is no tag team and you can’t pass the baton on when you are exhausted. It’s a marathon and no one else is there to carry your burdens and load, except Christ! Share your concerns with God and cast your burdens on Him – he does really care and help! (That’s another blog in itself!). Pray and pray some more… and trust Him.
2. Find Godly role models within your local church: What young men need when they are growing up is a good, Godly male role model in their lives. They need someone to talk to and someone to teach them what it is to be a Godly man. When the father is not there it can feel, for the mother at least, like there is a big “help wanted” sign hanging there. Hear me right, I’m not saying that the absent father should not be challenged to live up to his responsibilities (he should), or that the mother should look for the next available man to fill the (so-called) “gaping hole” in her life (she shouldn’t). BUT, I challenge the men in our congregations to realise that there is a role they can play in the life of young men from single parent homes. The child needs a good man to get alongside him, befriend and show him how to be a man. That, I believe, is how God intended the fatherless to be cared for within the local church.
This is a difficult road for a single mother to walk. For instance, how does she approach a Godly man and ask him to spend some time with her child? Should she? How will that be perceived? There is a minefield of possible misunderstandings to be had there, but don’t let that be an excuse for procrastinating. Pray and ask God for help and wisdom, approach your elders and ask them for their wisdom, care and help.
3. Be prepared to answer the hard questions: There are some subjects that if we are being honest, our first answer instinctively would be, “ask your dad.” We all know the questions I’m talking about: pornography, masturbation, sex, girls and all the uncomfortable conversations a mother does not want to have with her son. If you are a single parent, unfortunately you can’t delegate this BUT, if you aren’t speaking into your son’s life about his Godly character, who is? Bight the bullet. I had to deal with the same issues myself by saying to my son “I’m so sorry you must have this conversation with me but this is what we have…”
4. Source good, biblical material: For all those single mothers out there who are struggling with where to start or something to help I found “Preparing your Son for Every Mans Battle” (Arterburn and Stoeker). Although this book is written for fathers and sons, don’t be put off because it gives a really good platform to help you talk to your son about some difficult issues and, fundamentally, it deals with all sorts of subjects. I found working through this book with my son not only helped him cope with the initial awkwardness of the situation, but also gave insight that I wouldn’t have brought to the situation. It was helpful and well worth the money. Of course, there is no book or resource that is going to be as good or effective as you speaking into your son’s life personally. So, you might not think like a bloke, and its mortifyingly embarrassing, but you know your son, you know how he ticks, what makes him laugh, and so use the best of what you have, research what you don’t know, pray and entrust him into Gods care. The “Every Man’ Battle..” series is really usefully and I will be blogging on “Every Woman’s Battle..” soon. So, watch this space.
(As with all material out there, refer to your elders/leaders to ensure its helpfulness and biblical faithfulness).