A young farm girl was out milking the family cow when a stranger approached the house and asked to speak with the girl’s mother. The girl called for her mother and yelled, “There’s a man here to see you.” The mother hollered back, “Haven’t I told you not to talk with strangers? Get in this house right now.” The girl shouted, “But Momma, this man says he’s a Congressman.” The mother then stepped onto the porch and said, “In that case, bring the cow in with you.”
The pollsters at Gallup learned that 51% of the 13 to 17 year olds they surveyed last year do not have an adult role model they want to be like. The other 49% were more likely to cite their parents rather than sports stars or entertainers as the adult role model(s) they hope to emulate. The void of heroes can and should be filled by parents. Children as I have pointed out in my previous sermons emulate their parents, whether they are aware of it or not.
There are 10 million single parents in America today. That means 29% of all American parents are single. A little girl posed a curious question to her mom.
She asked, “If the stork brings babies, and if Santa Claus brings presents, and if the Lord gives us our daily bread, then why do we keep Daddy around?” 70% of long-term prison inmates grew up fatherless. Girls without a father in the home are one and a half times more likely to get pregnant before marriage. Children in single parent families are five times more likely to grow up in poverty, are three times more likely to abuse drugs, are four times more likely to commit suicide.
Significantly, research proves out that such negative effects are not present when a parent’s absence occurs due to death. The problems arise when the father never marries the mother of his child, and when the parents are divorced. Seemingly, permanent marriages would provide some of the best salve to our nation’s most pressing problems.
Scripturally, marriage was designed as the perfect way to rear children. We hear clearly those words Gen 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where 50% of marriages end in divorce. We live in a world, where, like with my own family, spouses die young. A sign of our times are adults who have never married and want to be parents, adopting children and rearing them in a single parent home.
Whether we wanted to be a single parent or not, this is where we find ourselves, what do we do? There are many issues that face us as single parents: economic changes, dealing with the loss, loneliness, guilt (usually false), and self-esteem.
There are many issues that our children face in single parent homes: dealing with the loss, guilt (usually false), trust, and playing one parent against the other.
The Church has a role in helping these families. God has a special place in His heart for the single parent and for the orphan. Exod 22:22 Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. As believers it is our job to become supporters of single parents. I was aware a long time before Vickie’s death that the congregation helped in the rearing of my children. The Church becomes an extended family that the single parent and the children belong to.
What can the single parent do? The first and most important rule is, Take care of yourself! When you board an airplane to fly somewhere, the airplane hostess will go over instructions before you ever leave the ground. The instructions are what to do in an emergency. If the plane decompresses, oxygen masks drop down. If you have a child you are instructed to first put your own mask on and then on your child. You cannot give what you do not have. Ps 146:9The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Do not try to be both Mom and Dad! You can only be one or the other. There is a chair in every child’s heart for his/her Mother and Father. No one else can ever fill that chair. Step parents can be added but they can never replace the real parent. Try not to create or destroy a relationship that a child has with his/her real parent. They may be real dumb, but it is not your place to protect or reveal that fact to your child. Let the child make that revelation for themselves.
Don’t be a victim! It is far too easy to get caught up in the grief, the guilt or the feeling of hopelessness. Work on the grief; deal with it, don’t play with it. Understand the guilt and resolve it. Make the new home a place of joy. Create some new traditions in your home.
You don’t have to be a perfect parent! For some reason as a couple we don’t have as much pressure to be a perfect parent. When we become single, there is great pressure to make up for the one lost parent. Perfect parents demand perfect children, is that what we really want?
A single parent with a teen-age son, have gone through many financial difficulties.
Consequently, we live in an old mobile home with all sorts of structural problems.
When one of my son’s friends, who lives in a beautiful house, ran away for a few days, I was puzzled. I asked, “Why did he do it? He has everything he could possibly wish for.” Her son said matter-of-factly, “Well, Mom, it’s like this. Jimmy has a lot of environment, but not much love, and I have a lot of love but not much environment.