Working a job and raising kids are difficult tasks that are made even more difficult when we go it alone. I've been there, having gone 5 years raising my four children as a single dad. Today, they're all grown, married and have made me a grandfather of four! Believe it or not, I miss those days. I tried to make the most of them. Following are a few tips that I thought might benefit those women who are juggling parental responsibilities with their job responsibilities. So often, we are sabotaging our own lives and simply making life harder to deal with. Pass it along to any of the ladies you know who may be struggling.
Many years ago, I heard a beautiful, statuesque, blonde mother of two, explain that she had decided not to date until the kids were graduated from high school. She said she didn't want to short-change them of her input. . . emotionally, physically, spiritually or financially. Wise woman! Such devotion and commitment! I tried dating once when I had all four of my kids in the home but I decided to quit. The guilt of not being there when the kids needed my help, the worry that they might need my dispute mediation expertise, the concern regarding everything from baths to lunches to clean clothes. . . all of it was simply too much. So, unless you save all your relational activities for the weekends when your spouse has the kids, or for those times when the kids will be properly cared for, I advise against it.
Where overnight guests are concerned, not only do I advise against it from a ministerial point of view - it's sin and ruins your reputation (let's remain “blessable") - but it can be quite traumatizing, confusing and even dangerous for the children when you invite “overnight guests. " I've heard from kids who had grown attached to certain men, only to have mom break-up with them, leaving an emotional scar. Of course, there are those cases where male bed-buddies became abusive to a lonely mother and her children, emotionally, verbally or sexually. Girls, if he loves you, he will respect your need to raise those kids and willl make himself available as a role model and companion for now. But he can go home afterward so you can get rested for work tomorrow. By the way, if he has his own kids, how's he interacting with THEM? It's a good way to guage how he will REALLY do with yours.
My advice? There will be plenty of time for dating later. Your children are a gift THROUGH you to the world. Are you committed to doing everything possible to ensure that they are the finest, most productive citizens they can possibly be? If at all possible, make sure your children DO experience positive male role models. I know a young man whose wise mother made certain that her son spent a great deal of time on his grandfather's farm as a child because she realized that her ex-spouse - an alcoholic living in a motel - was a negative role model. That young man is now climbing the ladder of success these days attending college with a stellar reputation. A great kid!
PREPARATION IS CRITICAL
I used to do all my cooking on Thursday nights, my best day. I planned a 7-day menu and the kids and I made a night of it. From opening cans to peeling carrots to rolling dough and cleaning the kitchen afterward, we made a memory that my kids still speak of fondly to this day. After all was cooked, it was frozen or refrigerated. If I ever worked late, my kids knew how to use the microwave and I sure appreciated NOT having to cook. Today, both my daughters are excellent cooks and my youngest is looking into culinary school.
On one occasion, as my kids and I were leaving the house, an elderly neighbor stepped out to commend me on how my kids always looked, especially my two daughters with bows in their hair, matching socks, and clean dresses. They never had any problem with self-esteem; their stuff wasn't the best but it was taken care of and it showed.
I used to take the kids to wash clothes and they helped. We played the Matching Game where socks were concerned and, when it came time to get the clothes in their drawers, we played “Pizza Delivery" with each kid running their “pizzas" (piles of clothes) to their drawers.
Always strive for quality time.
MAKE YOUR NEEDS KNOWN
Do you need help? Ask! Whether it's family, neighbors or church members, people will help if only you ask. The Scriptures say, “You have not because you ask not; ask that your joy may be full. "
Incidentally, one fine Christian woman I know lived in an apartment complex that was crawling with kids. The complex was filled with single moms who knew her and trusted her. Because so many women were entertaining potential husbands and wanted to be left alone or preferred to go out on dates, she took advantage of the opportunity to have Bible Studies and movie nights where she showed the children Christian videos and had snacks. Talk about growing where you're planted! Smart! Who know what kind of difference she made in the lives of those children?
MONITOR THEIR INPUT
I had a list of rules on the fridge. If the kids wanted to get upset because it was time to shut the TV off, their anger was directed at the rules, not at me. No TV until homework was completed. No guests or phone either. Set priorities! What are they watching? What are they listening to? Is their favorite music degrading to women or loaded with obscenities? Garbage in, garbage out, folks. Take a look at the people who are drawn to your kids, especially as they get older. Like-personalities attract. We generally hang out with those whom we feel worthy of. If what you see is not impressing you, it may require some professional intervention before it's too late.
Monitor their computer uses, too. Set those parental controls! While they live under your roof, you have every right to pull an inspection of closets, drawers and pockets. One man I knew found a marijuana joint in his son's ball point pen. They're creative! Scripture says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues them. " Have a plan for discipline and don't allow it to include screaming and beating. There should be consequences that matter but there should also be a plan for intervention where addictions to drugs, alcohol or *** are involved.
KICK THOSE BAD HABITS
Smoking won't send anybody to Hell. . . though it may make you smell like you've been there! We are certainly all aware that smoking can make you sick and even kill you, leaving children without a mother. It also costs allot and can deplete your funds, depriving the kids of necessities and gifts. In addition, far too many mothers try and “take the edge off" with alcohol and drugs. Again, not only hurting the kids but themselves as well while inviting undesirable people into their lives in the process. Worst of all is the example being set. Many such cycles NEED to be broken if you are to improve the potential of the quality of their lives.
The Bible says that the devil comes to kill steal and destroy. Interestingly, the television kills our motivation, it steals our quality time and destroys family relationships. If we watch TV from 6:00 to 10:00 at night (4 hours) and we do that only on Monday-Friday (5 nights), that's 20 hours a week of TV watching. Considering that the average father speaks to his kids less than one minute weekly - deep, meaningful things like “wake up, " “get outta there, " “eat that, " “you're gonna be late" - surely we can give our children a bit more of our time and attention on a daily basis, can't we?
CREATING GOOD HABITS
In the same way that we can embrace NEGATIVE habits, we are all a decision away from starting GOOD habits. Taking the kids to Sunday School, reading to them, establishing family nights, movie nights, game nights, exercise regimes, walks in the parks, playing at the playground, homework periods before TV ever comes on. . . kids thrive on structure, habits and tradition. We become what we surround ourselves with so, do everything you can to get your kids around positive people and mind-building activities like museum trips, the zoo and library expeditions. My daughters and I attended the Nutcracker ballet (mattinees are cheaper) annually for years and going to the park was a favorite. They grew to love the library and even Barnes and Nobles.
Watch your language. Let them see and hear you pray. They're watching you closely! Someone out there WANTS to take them under their wing. . . a gang member, a junkie, a sex offender, a seductive person. We, as parents, must do everything we can to create and maintain the most positive environment in which they can thrive. Though we hope for the best, prepare them for the worst. Does your family have a secret code word? Do you practice what to do if a stranger ever grabs them in a store? Do they know that's it's acceptable to grab a man's genitals, gouge their eyes and hit them on the nose repeatedly while screaming loudly? Do they understand that nobody gets to touch their private parts?
Talk about real life with them.
BEST ADVICE EVER!
A child sees its parents as their Provider and Sustainer. They see us as their god! You are their universe. What an opportunity to introduce that child to the REAL God - the One who actually does the Providing, Protecting and Sustaining, Jesus Christ. Let Him be the Lord of your home. He wants to be “the husband to the husbandless" and “father to the fatherless. " He wants to be a REAL person in YOUR life, just as He is in mine. From Scripture plaques to pictures to Bibles that get opened frequently, it's never too late to let your children know whose the boss in your home and the ruler of your lives. . . Jesus!
He is, isn't He??
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chaplain Mike is a certified Workplace Chaplain, overseeing the spiritual grwoth of over 500 employees for a Texas firm.
He is the founder of t. e. a. m. ministries. An Author, Pastoral Counselor and Teacher, whose eMail broadcasts, known as “Your Town for Jesus, " are read around the globe. Subscribe at email@example.com
A licensed/ordained non-denominational minister, a Certified Workplace Chaplain, and a Professional Member of NIBIC, he has ministered in Methodist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, College and Cowboy churches. He is a strong advocate for the House Church Movement, readily available to assist Christians feeling that same inclination. A Speaker on the Christian Speaker Network, he may be available to speak to your church or Christian group.