Sandra J. Bailey
Research shows that successful single-parent families have the following
1. Parents accept the challenges presented to them as single parents and they are determined to do their best.
2. Single parents make parenting their first priority.
3. Discipline is consistent and democratic. Parents are neither permissive nor too
4. Parents emphasize open communication and expression of feelings.
5. Parents recognize the need to care for themselves.
6. Parents develop or maintain traditions and rituals for their families.
7. Parents become financially self-sufficient and independent.
8. Parents move forward with their lives in a positive manner.
9. Parents are successful in managing family time and activities.
The same characteristics that make single-parent families strong are found in strong families in general. In Secrets of Strong Families, John Defrain and Nick Stinnett identified six characteristics of strong families as follows:
1. Family members spend quality time with one another.
Find time to spend with your children each day.
2. Strong families are committed to one another.
3. Family members show each other appreciation.
4. Communication skills are good in strong families.
5. Crises and stress are viewed as opportunities for growth.
6. Family members value spirituality.
No family is perfect and there is no one right way to be a family. Think about what is important for your family. Assess your family and plan ways to strengthen it. Use the six characteristics of strong families as a guide.
Excerpted from http://singleparentsnetwork.com/Articles/Detailed/245.html
By Peggy Porter
My son Gilbert was eight years old and had been in Cub Scouts only a short time. During one of his meetings he was handed a sheet of paper, a block of wood, and four tires, and told to return home and give it all to Dad.
That was not an easy task for Gilbert to do. Dad was not receptive to doing things with his son. But Gilbert tried. Dad read the paper and scoffed at the idea of making a pinewood derby car with his young, eager son.
The block of wood remained untouched as the weeks passed. Finally, Mom (me) stepped in to see if she could figure this all out. The project began. Having no carpentry skills, I decided it would be best if I simply read the directions and let Gilbert do the work. And he did.
Within days his block of wood was turning into a pinewood derby car. A little lopsided, but looking great (at least through the eyes of Mom). Gilbert had not seen any of the other kids’ cars and was feeling pretty proud of his Blue Lightning—the pride that comes with knowing you did something on your own.
Then the big night came. With his blue pinewood derby in his hand and pride in his heart we headed to the big race. Once there, my little one’s pride turned to humility. Gilbert’s car was obviously the only car made entirely on his own. All the other cars were a father-son partnership, with cool paint jobs and sleek body styles made for speed. A few of the boys giggled as they looked at Gilbert’s lopsided, wobbly, unattractive vehicle.
To add to the humility, Gilbert was the only boy without a man at his side. A couple of the boys who were from single-parent homes at least had an uncle or grandfather by their side. Gilbert had only Mom.
The race was done in elimination fashion. You kept racing as long as you were the winner. One by one the cars raced down the finely sanded ramp. Finally it was between Gilbert and the sleekest, fastest-looking car there. As the last race was about to begin, my wide-eyed, shy eight-year-old asked if they could stop the race for a minute because he wanted to pray. The race stopped.
Gilbert hit the ground on his knees, clutching his funny-looking block of wood between his hands. With a wrinkled brow, he conversed with God. He prayed in earnest for a very long minute and a half. Then he stood with a smile on his face and announced, Okay, I am ready.
As the crowd cheered, a boy named Tommy stood with his father as their car sped down the ramp. Gilbert stood with his Father within his heart and watched his block of wood wobble down the ramp with surprising speed. It rushed over the finish line a fraction of a second before Tommy’s car. Gilbert leaped into the air with a loud Thank You! as the crowd roared in approval.
The Scout Master came up to Gilbert, microphone in hand, and asked the obvious question, So you prayed to win, huh, Gilbert?
My young son answered, Oh, no sir. That wouldn’t be fair—to ask God to help you beat someone else. I just asked Him to make it so I don’t cry when I lose.
Yes, Gilbert walked away a winner that night, with his Father at his side.
I’m your Shepherd
It takes a lot of love and unselfishness to raise a child, and it takes even more when you’re doing it as a single parent. Some days you feel like it’s too much-that you can’t be both mother and father to your child-yet you keep going. I’m proud of you for that.
One day you’re going to be so happy that you didn’t give up, but kept loving and teaching your child the best you could. When your daughter grows up and looks back and remembers all the love and care you gave her, she will be so thankful and proud to have a mother like you.
I also know it’s tough to be the primary source of support for your family. I want to help and take care of you. Have you heard the Psalm “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”? I don’t want you to lack anything you need. If you pray and ask Me for help, I will show you what to do to take care of the bills, and I will make sure that you and your child are provided for.
Someone to lean on
Children are a blessing from Me. Each of them is a special touch of My love, and they are never a mistake. I create them with love, and then entrust them to parents like you, to be loved and cared for.
You’ve given so much of yourself in order to take care of your children, and you continue to give. I want you to know that I see and I appreciate every bit of that. I also want you to know that I’m always here to help you.
You often don’t feel capable as a parent, but if you look to Me, I will make it easier. It’s a huge job, especially when you’re doing it on your own, but I will help you through the difficult times. I will give you all the love and patience you need. I will give you all the wisdom and understanding you need. I will be your other half, the one you can lean on. I will help you make the tough decisions.
I want to be a part of your family. I want to be the head of your household. You don’t have to raise your family alone. I am here to help you.
Excerpted from "From Jesus with Love - For Women" by Aurora Productions. Used with permission.