How do I discipline my child an a single parent?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

As a single parent, it can be difficult at times to discipline your child. Proverbs 29:17 reminds us to, "Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul." Parents are to provide direction and discipline to their children to help them grow up with good faith based morals and values. The Lord intended parents to treat their children, His children, with patience, compassion, and love, and to behave in ways that are in the child's best interests by teaching them, disciplining them, and being a means of providing for them. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." When parents lay out a proper foundation for their children and guide them through life in making decisions, they will not stray from the teachings that you have provided for them.

The Lord is always with you no matter where you go or the trials that you face in life. Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Even though single parenting can feel like you are all alone in your struggles, the Lord your God is standing with you in all that you do. He is our ever-present help in time of need and our rescuer. We are never truly alone.

Things to think about:

It can be stressful for single parents to make discipline choices for their children. At times, it may feel like you are in a wrestling match, almost as if you are in the ring fighting against the other parent to make a decision. Other times, raising a child alone means that one does not have someone to jump in and help when help is needed, leaving one parent to set and enforce all of the rules for the children.

If your previous spouse is involved in the children's lives, communicate the importance of creating a united front in the area of discipline. As much as possible, agree on one set of rules. This is helpful to give your children parameters on what is allowed and what is not approved behavior. Working together sets you up for success in the long run. No single parent wants to feel like the ‘bad-cop' and continuously give the answer of ‘no.'

Parenting a child alone can add to the level of anxiety that a single parent has to manage. Finding emotional support or utilizing in-laws to take some of the responsibility can be a great assistance especially during particularly busy times. There are support groups for single parents to discuss topics like behavioral issues or familial difficulties common among the group. Divorce Care can be found across the nation to provide assistance to parents, children and families that are going through a divorce. Divorcecare.org is an excellent resource for parents to find information about these groups and where to find a group that is meeting near your location.

What do I do now?

Start by creating a routine with your child. This will help them understand your expectations and the ground rules for your home. Again, if your kids are sharing two homes, it is best to try and communicate with your parenting partner rules that you both agree. If they are older, allow them to help you set up the house rules. No matter the situation, stick to your rules and routine to help your child succeed. Do not cave into the desires of your child; this will only set you up for letting down the boundary line and allowing them to cross it again next time. Set limitations and stick to them. This strengthens your child's trust that you will follow through with what you say.

Consistency in your son or daughter's life is extremely beneficial for them when things are changing in their world. When disciplining your child, remember to express your love for them has not changed. Spend regular one-on-one time with your child to build the relationship; read, color or play a board game. Your kids need to feel that they are loved, cared for and supported in what they do. Take time to praise your child for the things they do. Guide them lovingly when they go astray and gently help them make corrections in their behavior. When children do misbehave, give them the appropriate consequences for their actions. If you receive push-back or retaliation from them, stand firm and do not back down. It is often easier to let things slide when you are tired and stressed, but holding firm to what you say backs up the fact that you are there for your child though everything else may be changing.

Children need both male and female role models in their lives. These relationships have much to do with the development of finding their purpose, discovering their worth and identity as a young child. Consider the resource of a local church or city youth organization for a mentor.

Set time aside to take care of yourself and give yourself grace. Ensure that you are taking the time to refuel spiritually. This time with the Lord can bring peace, relaxation and renewal for your life. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep and eating healthily. It is important that you make time with adults and friends.

Want to go deeper?

This source looks at various aspects of parenting a child on your own from preschool years to dating.Parents.com - Article

This is an excellent website that has several tips for single parents that talks about the many challenges that parents can face as they raise their children. MayoClinic - Article

This website gives several great suggestions for parenting as a single parent, with and without a parenting partner.ThrivingFamily.com - Article