How Should Single Moms Raise Godly Men?
(This article first appeared in Crosswalk.com October 13, 2016)
Are you a single mom with a longing to guide your son toward a life that honors Christ? If you’re a single mother, I applaud you for pressing into your local church––rather than becoming a stay-at-home-Christian, to avoid the awkwardness of going it alone.
Although you may feel like you are the only single mom in the church, statistics prove you’re not alone. And I know some amazing men who were raised by single moms.
So, what can you learn from those single moms? In my book Moms Raising Sons to Be Men, I share the following insights for single moms:
Don’t bash their father:
“Deadbeat-dad, loser, jerk”—Calling your kid’s father names will result in causing them to feel insecure.
If you are divorced—or if you and your son’s father never married—be careful to speak with respect about his dad. I know one divorced mother whose son never knew his successful father had a cocaine addiction.
She was careful to allow her son supervised interaction with his dad, and wisely determined not to tear down her son’s father.
As the years passed, her son matured into a man who learned of his father’s drug issues. Filtered through the strong foundation of Scripture laid by his mother, the young man was able to assess his father’s choices, recognize how wrong they were, and forgive his father.
It is natural for your son to have an admiration for his dad. When you point out all of your ex-husband’s failures, your son may respond with feelings of resentment toward you for tearing down his father.
Do not put your son in a place where he feels he must constantly choose which parent he will align himself with. When your son reaches puberty, you just may lose.
Teach forgiveness by example:
If your son has experienced deep wounds or negligence at the hands of his father, it is important that you do not use this to excuse any sinful behavior exhibited by your son, blaming it on his “rejection issues.”
Take to heart the advice of Byron Yawn, author of What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him:
“There’s a fine line between blame and acceptance. The balance between focusing on the injustices in our life and taking personal responsibility for our lives is difficult. Many men are imprisoned by memories, or the lack thereof. They can’t make it past the inequity of their experiences. The solution here is mainly theological and not therapeutic. It’s a matter of focus. My point is, it’s not about becoming intimate with your hang-ups. It’s about becoming intimate with your Creator. Other men with equally painful memories have found freedom in the cross.”
Teach your son to forgive his father. By your own example of choosing to forgive whatever wrongs you have experienced at the hand of his father, you will teach your son to forgive as well.
Don’t define him by his scars:
Help your son focus on how as a Christian he is part of the family of God through his relationship with Christ, rather than on how his father’s absence has wounded him.
People who find freedom at the cross are solid, thankful, and productive people who love Jesus. Rather than defining themselves by the scars on their hearts they are better people as a result of them.
Raising up a son is made more difficult when you are a single mom, and this makes it all the more important that you glorify God as a mother, and call your son to honor God as he obeys you.
Psalm 68:5 says the Lord is “a father of the fatherless.”
As you walk closely to God, He will be faithful to His Word about being a father of the fatherless and help you raise your son.
I have a friend who was a single mother of two sons. I have known Sherry since her boys were very young. Over the years Sherry has diligently worked on two major relationships: intimacy with God, and intimacy with her sons.
She took seriously God’s promise to be a father to her fatherless sons, and knew He would be the One to help her gain their obedient respect. She taught her sons that when they were obeying their mom, they were obeying God—which is the greatest motivation we can give our children for being obedient. Sherry also spent a great deal of time building a thriving, loving relationship with her boys.
The results of Sherry’s diligence became evident when her sons became adolescents. When their father was unavailable to help her enforce the rules on her six-foot-tall boys,
Sherry offered correction not so much based on her authority to do so, but on God’s
authority. And upon the relationship she had built with her boys.
Expose him to Godly mentors.
Along with trusting the Lord to help her earn the love and respect of her boys, Sherry wisely looked to her church for godly men who could serve as mentors for her sons. She wanted the boys to have heroes they could look up to. How better to find God-fearing men than to ask the Lord to direct her sons to men in the church? Now in their 30’s, Sherry’s sons can look back and name several Christian men who taught them to be men who honored the Lord—and their mother.
When looking for men who could mentor your son, look for men who have a genuine passion for Christ. Don’t find men who simply follow religious rules. Rather, try to find men who are faithful and consistent in exhibiting Christlike character.
The young men of this generation ache for heroes who are genuine, passionate, and noble. Determine to expose your son to men who sincerely love the Lord and passionately glorify Him.
You’re in good company.
Acts 16:1 tells us Timothy’s mother, Eunice, had been married to a Greek man. The text suggests Timothy’s father may have been dead by the time Eunice met the apostle Paul. Eunice may have been a widow, raising her son with the help of her mother.
God provided Paul as young Timothy’s father in the faith.
The apostle impacted Eunice’s young son in a way she never could. When it came time for Paul to hand the baton of ministry to the next generation, he gave it to his beloved Timothy.
Ask God to send a godly hero for your son. The more you expose your son to men who glorify the Lord, the more opportunities your son will have to develop his own identity through their godly influence.
Your success as a mother doesn’t depend upon what your son chooses to do with his life. Rather, success lies in your obedience to God—in what you choose to do with your life. The key is not in how you raise your son, but in how you allow God to raise him through your obedient life.*
*Excerpts taken from Rhonda’s book: Moms Raising Sons to Be Men (Harvest House 2013)
Read the article at Crosswalk.com