A Lone Parent, but Not Alone
“When my children come home and give me a hug and tell me that they love me, that’s the best part of being a mother.”—DORIS, A SINGLE MOTHER OF TWO.
SINGLE parents can find reassurance in the Bible statement: “Children are a blessing and a gift from the LORD.” (Psalm 127:3, Contemporary English Version) When children are raised in a single-parent family, they are no less precious in God’s eyes. Our Creator desires to see single-parent families succeed. The Bible says of him: “The fatherless boy and the widow he relieves.” (Psalm 146:9) Single parents can be certain that God is ready to support them.
A child is entitled to be raised in a loving, safe, and secure environment that will allow him to develop physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is each parent’s duty and privilege to be used by God to train a child.
Many single parents have found that success requires diligent prayer, consistent application of Bible principles, and complete reliance on Jehovah. This is in line with the exhortation found at Psalm 55:22: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you.”
From time to time, grandparents, local elders, and experienced parents in the Christian congregation may be available to assist a single-parent family to manage trying situations. True, family members and fellow worshipers can offer much to support the efforts of single parents, but the ultimate God-given responsibility rests with a child’s parents. *
Happily, many single parents have managed successfully to handle the unique challenges of their situation and raise responsible, well-behaved, God-fearing children. Awake! spoke with a number of them. Here are some of the things such parents have in common.
• Sound home management. Successful single parents strive to be well organized and work hard to coordinate schedules. Proper planning and organization are essential. The Bible says: “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage.”—Proverbs 21:5.
• Commitment. Successful single parents make family life one of their first priorities. They focus on putting the needs of their children ahead of their own.—1 Timothy 5:8.
• A balanced approach. Successful single parents neither minimize nor exaggerate problems; they seek solutions. They accept the difficulties and try to cope with them without self-pity or bitterness.
• Good communication. Successful single parents foster communication. They encourage clear and open expression of thoughts and feelings in the family. Says a single father about his children: “I talk to them at every opportunity. We have ‘cozy moments’ when we prepare dinner. It is then that they really confide in me.”
• Caring for oneself. Despite the demands on their time, successful single parents recognize that caring for their own spiritual, emotional, and physical needs is important. Ethel, a divorced single mother of two, explained: “I try to save some time for myself. For example, when a friend gives the children music lessons, that gives me an hour to myself. I sit down and leave the TV off.”
• A positive attitude. Successful single parents maintain a positive outlook toward parenting and life in general. They see positive aspects in stressful situations. One single mother states: “I’ve come to realize that being a single parent is not all negative.”
Are these principles effective? Yes, as can be seen from numerous success stories of single parents. Gloria, a divorced, single working mother in England, who was mentioned in the first article, raised two sons and a daughter. All three of them grew up to become full-time Christian ministers, devoting their lives to promoting Bible education. When asked how she managed, Gloria explained: “The first challenge was to keep up a regular, interesting family Bible study. I wanted the children to be happy, to have peace of mind, to be content, and to be protected from pitfalls. I found a job working nights. My aim was to have the children with me whenever I could. Before I went to work, we had a family prayer and I put them to bed. My aunt stayed in the house while I was at work.”
How did Gloria help her children set the right priorities? She continues: “My greatest aim was to put spiritual things first. We didn’t have much money, and I was very open about this with the children. Whatever I asked them to do, I would do myself, and they were all cooperative.” Reminiscing about how she kept a close-knit family, Gloria says: “The secret was doing things together. Nobody went off to his or her own room. We cooked, cleaned, decorated together. We balanced our activities. I always made sure there was recreation too.”
Carolyn, a single mother of a young boy named Joseph, is pleased with the way he is growing up. What is her secret? “We read the Bible together at bedtime,” she says, “and then I ask him questions about what he has learned. Additionally, we consider selected paragraphs from Bible-based publications and apply them personally. This helps Joseph when he faces problems, such as bullying at school.” Carolyn admits that her life is by no means easy, but she does not feel that she is alone. She observes: “It is a constant struggle, but I feel that Jehovah has really helped me. I also receive a lot of encouragement from the Christian congregation.”
The success stories of thousands of single parents, such as Gloria and Carolyn, prove that parents today can rely on the time-tested principles of the Bible to raise fine, spiritually strong children. (Proverbs 22:6) Success is possible! Single parenting provides many challenges that are opportunities for growth and sharing. Relying fully on God and being convinced that he will provide help is the best way to cope with the demands of single parenthood.—Psalm 121:1-3.
^ par. 6 For additional information on how single-parent families can succeed, see The Secret of Family Happiness, chapter 9, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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Family Bible study has helped Gloria’s three children to become full-time Christian ministers. Here they look at a letter from and a photo of the oldest son, now serving as a missionary
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Carolyn and her son, Joseph