I asked a friend if she would like to post a “guest post” as I think there is much we could benefit from what she has to share. What she has written is below.
I’m writing to begin a discussion on the subject of parents and their children, focusing on single parents in general. For the record, I’m 25 years old, divorced, and the mother of a three year old little boy.
As a Mother, I wear many hats. I’m the nurse, the chauffeur, the maid, the boo-boo kisser, the audience, the enforcer, the toy-box dumper and picker-upper, the bather, the hugger, the bed-time story reader, and the one he misses when he sleeps over somewhere.
As a Single Mother, I’m the repairman, the discipliner, the bike riding teacher, the throwing a ball teacher, the hot wheels playmate, the how to potty like a man teacher (yes, that one was fun. Pfft), the voice of reason when I realize I’m arguing with a three year old, and the only one he comes looking for in the morning when he wakes up.
Think about all that for a minute. Soak it in. Have you ever thought about that? The child- and what he/she sees when they look at their parents?
In the death of my marriage, I chose to try to be the adult, and though some days are harder than others, and I’m still learning to have patience, I firmly believe that we are better off without him in the picture. I won’t go into much detail on why we are better off; I’ll simply state that in the end, he chose drugs and running away from problems rather than being the adult and working through them. If I didn’t know for a fact that I’m alive today because God was with me through-out the entire course of my marriage; I would’ve already had a breakdown. I wouldn’t have been able to think past myself and would’ve NEVER had the courage to let him walk away. I say courage, because that’s exactly what I felt the day he walked out of our lives, after my mind ran through emotion after emotion- fear, anger, pity, confusion, fear, worry, self-pity, fear, worry, anger, revenge, loathing, shame, fear, shame, anger, shame, shame, shame, worry, worry, I was panicking at the thought of facing the choices ahead of me- I could follow him, and stay under the thumb of a tyrant, without being shamed for having a failed marriage, or I could stay, and fight my own fight, and become a strong, independent single mother, and deal with the shame between myself and God. With that thought- my mind released everything it was considering. “Ok. I’m going to be Ok.” I had to literally stop thinking, and give every second of being scared and feeling all those emotions to God. I knew that he had already brought me this far, he wasn’t going to desert me now. I felt courageous that I could do this. I was reminded “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
Are there days that I still worry that one day my son might resent me for the divorce? Yes. Are there nights where I can’t sleep for all the thinking? Yes. But the secret to moving forward in life- is taking everything one moment at a time, and giving to God all the day’s worries. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. If we live in front of our children as giving our lives for God daily, they will see that, and become that as they grow. Am I the perfect example of this lifestyle? No. Of course not, I have more flaws that I’d care to admit here. But, if the goal of your day is to show your children what you want them to become- you must establish this thought process; to consider what they see when they look at you. Once you’ve done so, you’ll begin to see that what your children see when they look at you, is who you really are. My son told me today, that his “Poppa is a Superhero.” (my father). Children see things that we as adults have outgrown. They mirror us, and how we behave in front of them is vital to their growth and development. For them to understand the difference between being the child, and the adult- they have to witness it for themselves in daily life. No, You might not be a superhero, perhaps not even rich, or famous; but when they look at you, they see all those things I said above, they see that you love them; that you laugh with them, that you cry with them, that you have opened yourself to them. They will demonstrate this in their actions and attitudes toward you more than anything else because they strive to be like their parents.
As single parents- we worry that our children won’t be well balanced because of so much time with one specific gender- and not enough with both. We worry that they will blame themselves when they are old enough to feel the pain of divorce; even if they were too young to remember the absent parent.
I’m Not saying by any means that single parents worry more than parents of in-tact homes. Parents in general often worry every minute of every day over the health and safety of their children. However, where single parents have the most flaws- is in that they carry the “ramifications” of their decisions with them while raising a child alone, with every mistake- they feel the “it’s all my fault” bug bite them; And a good deal of them get sucked in and wallow in it.
Single parents worry that their children will either hate them for the choice they made in getting a divorce- or perhaps rebel to get attention they feel they aren’t getting at home, but- as I said before, this is experienced in in-tact homes as well.
The problem I’ve seen with single parents is we get the “it’s my fault” syndrome and forget that we have to be parents. There isn’t another parent in the home to pick up the slack- if we stop and wallow in our self-pity, then we either become the child- forcing the children to grow up way to fast and become our caretakers- or worse, we can turn to drugs and alcohol in that same process, either of these choices is WRONG. This kind of self-pity destroys the children who witness it. There is enough worrying about screwing up your children when you’re doing a good job- let alone when you stop being the adult and forget the fact that God loves us through every decision we make. He may be disappointed in the choices we make- but he has given us freewill- the opportunity to live our lives and grow in him or apart from him.
Everything happens for a reason.
If there is one person I can help- by telling some of my story, and acknowledging that it was God, and ONLY God that brought me through it, then it’s worth it- to re-live it through memory.
To those of you who may believe that a “Bad Father” is better than “No Father” please re-think that, as I believe the damages from a bad parent are lasting.
God doesn’t want anyone to be a “Poor Me” person.
He wants us to fully depend on him and his promise to never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews13:5, Deut 31:6,8 , Joshua 1:5) No matter who argued the most, who picked fights over stupid issues, who walked out and never looked back, God is the one that will NEVER leave.
God has made many promises to his children.
The children of broken homes have a promise of their very own- That God is the father to the fatherless. (Psalms 68:5)
In Him, they can depend, they can place all their trust in him, they can give him the love that they feel a loss for- and have that love returned to them a hundred fold. (Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”)
Even though we may not fully understand why this relationship/marriage failed, we MUST put our Faith in God to restore us to His will, and His will ALONE. To make a very cliché quote: “God can fix a broken heart if you give him all the pieces.” Cliché, but very true. You MUST give it all to God in order for him to mold you- the clay into the piece he is perfecting. When I say give Him all the pieces- what I mean is, FULLY SUBMITTING to His Will.
It is important to remember that when facing divorce with children who are above infancy- that you instill in their minds and hearts that this divorce was not the result of anything they’ve said or done.
Children in the middle of divorce feel the death of the marriage just as parents feel it. It may not be as much of a betrayal to the child as it is to you that “so and so cheated” and you’re getting divorced, however damages from divorce and even arguing in front of your children is sometimes irreparable.
You are the parents.
You must be the adults.
You above everyone else in this world have been placed in charge temporarily of a beautiful gift from God himself. He’s given you this clean slate, this fresh new mind, and said- “take care of this, show this child how to bring me Joy.”
There is a prayer I’d like to share with you- One that I found when I was pregnant and was facing fears of my own.
Our Heavenly Father,
You have entrusted to us a life so fragile,
So vulnerable, so completely dependent.
We are afraid.
How can we bear so weighty a responsibility?
What if we make an uncorrectable mistake?
What if we love too leniently, or discipline too severely?
Free us from the fear of failure.
Teach us that parenthood does not come like a cake mix- in four easy steps.
Only in the daily doing of it
Will we learn the proper balance.
Give us the grace to be good hosts.
Remind us that this little one, who will walk beside us
For a few short years, is only a guest in our home.
We have no ironclad claims to his soul, body, or life.
Let us offer hospitality and kindness,
Gentle nudges, and loving hands to mend the hurts.
Sustain us in the storms of life.
When we have reached our limit, when the world has done it’s worst,
Help us to say “Into thy hands, O Lord, we commit it all”
In life, in death, today, and every tomorrow,
O Thou who stillest raging winds, be near.
Through Jesus Christ who was once a little baby, Amen.
This prayer, this realization that children are merely guests in our homes, should awaken us all to what we’ve said to our children, what we’ve hidden from them, how we’ve acted in front of them, how we have behaved as children ourselves pretending to be adults. Children are open vessels just pleading to be filled.
What are you filling the children in your life with?
Notice the Children that you are around on a daily basis, How are you filling those open vessels? Strive to help them to bring the Father of all Fathers Joy. “Bring up a child in the way he should go, and he shall not depart from it”
I’d like to say Thank-you to Daniel and Brandon both for allowing me this opportunity to share with you. Grace and Peace.