What guidance does the Bible provide?
You may be feeling anxiety or stress over being a single dad, but be encouraged, for the Bible has so many examples of men overcoming tremendous obstacles with God's help. Some of these great stories even involve being a parent, and God's word shows each of us how to disciple our children. Moses says in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up"(NIV). Parents are to teach their children about Jesus, how to have a relationship with Jesus, and how to walk with Jesus for a lifetime (Ephesians 6:4). Now as a single dad that responsibility lies with you. If there is another parental figure in the picture, then it would be good to communicate your plans to teach them about God and His word. Children need not only to be taught information, but more importantly, they need to see it lived out. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says, "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God"(NIV). As a single dad, you must walk under the Lordship and guidance of Jesus Christ. Through the guidance of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no doubt that you can raise fantastic successful children!
Things to think about:
Being a single parent is not an easy situation, no matter how you got to that point. The simple realization is that being a single dad means that there is a lack of female influence in the normal day to day life of your children. So here are some basic principles, and an example, to follow no matter your particular situation:
- Demonstrate love - By encouraging and taking interest in your children's interests
- Provide for your family financially - Pay the bills, don't feel pressured to buy your kids the latest toys and gadgets
- Create a routine (to make the day-to-day easier) - Have your children regularly help around the house, and help them to establish a daily routine
- Maintain a strong heart connection with your children - Tell your children specific things that you love about them, encourage their greatness, and challenge them to grow knowing Christ
- Don't be afraid to ask for help - Either through friends, family, or church
- Find quality childcare - Find childcare that matches your educational goals for your children
- Stay positive and encourage your children - Encourage your children in whatever area they excel in
- Be honest with your children - Don't be afraid to tell them that you aren't perfect and that you are figuring this single parent thing out
- Connect your children with a strong, healthy environment - Like a church/youth group
What do I do now?
Admittedly the list above is a lot easier to say than to do in practice. However, there is one key to all of this: you. You can control a lot of this by the way that you feel, think, and behave. Being a single parent means that you no longer have another person to watch your back in different areas of your life. Single dads need people in their lives who will check in on them, keep them accountable, and push them to be better in all areas of their life. For some men that might look like their best friends, other family members, a church community group, or a small accountability group. Here are some areas of your life that you need to check regularly on, and have others check in on:
- Spiritual Health - Are you pursuing a deep relationship with Jesus? Can your children tell that you are following Jesus?
- Physical Health - Are you taking care of your body? Are you resting enough?
- Stress - How are you handling stress? Is there anything you can ask help with?
- Guilt - Do you feel guilty for not spending enough time with your children? Is it a problem to solve or a tension to manage?
- Emotional Health - Do you feel emotionally healthy? Are you holding any emotions in?
- Finances - Are you spending wisely? Are you spending time taking care of what you do already own?
- Parenting - Are you maintaining a strong relationship with your children? What areas of parenting do you need to grow in?
The inventory above is not meant to beat you up but instead is more like checking the gauges of your life and heart. A car has gauges that tell you when something is off, and these questions are meant to do the same thing.
Want to go deeper?
Here are a few great resources to help you:
Fatherhood Parenting - Website dealing with fatherhood in all types of marriage/single situations. It has great help for age-specific children.
Help and Hope for the Single Parent - Christian book by Tony Evans for all single parents.