As I sit here writing this, it’s Mother’s Day morning. In the month of June, we celebrate fathers. This time of year, I can’t help but reflect on the journey of single parenting.
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 (MSG) is one of my favorite parenting scriptures:
Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities …
Put simply, this Scripture means to live your life according to the Word of God and model that to your children in your everyday lives. It sounds so poetic and pretty. Tie it up in a big bow and go be that perfect parent, right?
Except it’s not always that easy! My kids are grown now, but I remember the struggles, and they are real! The physical fatigue is overwhelming, and don’t even get me started on the mental exhaustion.
It’s a wild and wonderful thing, this business of parenting. For the single mom or dad, it can feel very helter-skelter.
But be not dismayed, my friends. Living up to the task we are assigned isn’t as intimidating as it may sound.
As in everything, God is our counselor and guide. He gave us the 10 Commandments through Moses, but Jesus condensed them into just two: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind’ … [and] ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39, TLB). You see, if we simply obey these two commands, we will obey the 10.
Herein lie amazing principles for single parents. What if love — not rules and control — is the primary mandate in our parenting guidebook? What kind of children will we raise? What if we daily represent the heart of the Father to our children and trust Him to meet needs as they arise? I think that sounds beautiful.
Let me elaborate a bit:
1. Love God – The depth of your relationship with God is paramount to raising the masterpiece with which you have been entrusted. Living this love openly with your children displays the character of God undeniably. It is the single greatest influence you can have in the lives of your children. And when loving God – as opposed to conforming to this world — is the culture of your home, you are way ahead of the game!
2. Love your neighbor – Children are generally loving and accepting until ugly influences befall them. We are living in a time in which unbelievable selfishness abounds. I see way too many adults behaving badly, and it makes me very sad for the next generation. Teaching our children unselfish love happens by osmosis and is imperative for godly parenting. Be mindful of those around you; seek opportunities to love, serve, befriend and encourage. Even simple things like good manners and respect come into play here. Make the principles of love the primary mindset of your family.
3. Value relationship – At first glance, the 10 Commandments sound like rules over relationship, but that’s not the case at all. God is all about relationship, and so are His decrees. Let’s take our cue from Him. Relationship forms the waters upon which the ship of obedience either sails or sinks. Boundaries must be in place, but even when they are crossed, purpose to maintain relationship with your children. Seek to know their hearts, and be open with yours. This fosters communication and respect. Read the Scripture from Deuteronomy again. Instruction is subject to relationship. Rules come and go as we grow and mature, but relationship is what bonds you and your children.
Maybe your heart is heavy as you read this because you haven’t parented in this manner. We all have regrets, don’t we? I believe today is a good day for a new beginning. If the past does not bear repeating, you can change the course of your parenting and therefore change the future for your kids.
1 Peter 4:8 (NLLT) says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” Yes, this applies to single parenting!
You were made for this. You are equipped. You are enough. You can do this. When you feel like you can’t, trust God to parent through you. Establish love as the priority of your household, and the fundamentals you wish to instill in your children will happen naturally as you walk through life. Let this be your legacy.
We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about His power and His mighty wonders. So the next generation might know them — even the children not yet born — and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands. –Psalm 78:4, 6-7 (NLT)