By Starla Quinn, PhD, LPC
A Prayer Turns Into Passion
Perched on my roof, nailing a shingle in place, I heard bickering voices coming from below. My girls were fighting again.
Between taking care of the house, holding down three part-time jobs, and going to school, I was overwhelmed with just getting through life.
My daughters’ escalating voices reminded me of something I had just read for my graduate studies: statistics about the outcomes for kids from single-parent homes. Scary stats about drug use and poor grades and risky choices.
Was I failing as a single mom?
The hammer slipped and struck my thumb. Tears sprang to my eyes.
“God, please show me the way,” I prayed. “Don’t let my fears about my kids’ future overshadow my hope in you – help me to find the answers.”
My prayer that day turned into a passion for learning how faith can make a difference in single parenting – and that passion became the basis for my doctoral studies and later, a cornerstone for my counseling practice.
Beat the Odds with Faith
I have good news for single parents of faith. You can beat the odds. Your kids can succeed and flourish. Your belief in God gives you certain advantages that can help you out-perform the metrics.
Spirituality and family life are deeply intertwined, and studies have shown that transcendent religious beliefs are key to health and other positive outcomes. And while less has been studied about the influence of faith on single parenting, there is every reason to believe that those same positive effects ripple down in single parent homes, too.
In spite of your struggles as a single parent, your faith walk can be a strong counteracting force to the potentially negative outcomes often seen in divorced or single-parent homes.
Studies show correlations between strong parental faith and good things happening with kids: things like increased resiliency, better grades, and healthier choices.
And there’s more. Your faith can give your kids stronger coping resources and protect them against risks like drug abuse.
Your faith affects how your kids see the world. Your spiritual commitment also helps your children develop a sense of purpose and calling.
And perhaps most importantly to single parents, your spirituality, lived out in front of your children, can help your family stand strong in times of crisis and give you the resources to bounce back after periods of hardship.
Creating Faith in Your Home
So what can you do to support a stronger sense of spirituality in your home? Here are some ideas:
- Live out your faith in front of your kids. Show, don’t just tell. Model an authentic belief that has a real impact on daily decisions and choices.
- Encourage family rituals. Like prayer at dinner time or family devotions on a certain night of the week.
- Back up your words with actions. Be a “doer” of the Word. Inviting the needy for a meal in your home or volunteering at a local shelter sends a powerful message.
- Build a network of support with other Christian friends and families. Seek out social support in any way you can. Studies show connection in the community results in a powerhouse of positive impact.
- Resolve differences that may exist with the other parent. When possible, work on having a healthy, low-conflict relationship. Peace and forgiveness are an outflowing of a healthy spiritual perspective in the home.
- Employ a biblical worldview. Talk about Scripture and the ways faith can make a difference, and encourage learning about God’s Word through church, studies, or whatever ways work best for your family.
- Pray together. Prayer has benefits beyond spiritual strengthening. In practical terms, prayer reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves sleep – all great things that will help counteract the unique pressures in single-parent homes.
There Is Hope
Whether you’re a single parent by divorce, separation, or the death of a spouse, your children can thrive. And even if your child is currently exhibiting problems, he or she can eventually flourish.
There is hope, and every reason to believe that your child’s chance of success can be just as great as his or her peers in two-parent homes.
That day on the roof was a pivotal moment. I stopped fearing the statistics and put my trust in God. My girls are grown now – both loving, kind women, they are reminders to me that when it comes to bringing up kids as a single parent, faith does make a difference.
© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/hope-and-faith-during-single-parent-struggles/