By Sharon Dickens (Women’s Worker at NCC & Single Mother)
I was interested and challenged reading Mez’s blog a few months ago about raising our sons to be Godly men. One of the questions rolling around my head has simply been,
“How different is it raising godly men when the father is absent, and you’re a single parent.”
Let me start out by saying I realise unequivocally that God intended children to be raised by both parents, but in our community, and I imagine it is the same in yours, not all family circumstances are exactly the same. You may have, as we do, single parents trying to raise their children in a Godly manner.
I won’t have a rant about the word “lone” parent but it needs to be said that in a Godly church community no parent should have to bring up their child all on their own, lacking any support. God gave the fatherless their church family who should be actively involved. Is it different raising a girl and a boy in a biblical manner? Boys and girls may be equal in terms of spiritual worth, but they have different roles and needs. I can read books, research how to shave, study male personal hygiene, I can even read (and have) Christian literature on the subject of male masturbation (for example) but does that mean that I understand his struggles or know how the mind of a man works? So, how do we single mothers help our sons grow up to be a good, Godly man?
1. Rely on God: Its seems 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. Bringing up Children in Community: What young men need when they are growing up is a good, Godly male role model in their life. 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. 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.
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.
Ladies be prepares to answer the hard questions
There are some subject that if we are being honest our first answer is, “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 issue myself by saying to my son “I’m so sorry you must have this conversation with me but this is what we have…”
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.