How I Survive Father’s Day as a Single Mom.

I hate to admit this and hate even more to say it, but Father’s Day sucks when you are a mom to children who are fatherless.

My children are fatherless because their father has made some very poor choices.  He has a pattern of abusing the women in his life and is serving a 10 year sentence for his crimes.  He hasn’t played a role in our children’s lives and Father’s Day is a little hard for my girls.

I have determined every year to make the best of Father’s Day and after 10 years, I have come up with a few ways to successfully survive Father’s Day, for me and my children.

Celebrate the dads and father figures in your lives! 

My dad has played a big role in my girls’ lives.  For the past 4 years he has taken them to school almost every morning because of my work schedule.  I have been VERY blessed because I have been able to drop my kids off at my parent’s house so I could be to work early.  They eat breakfast with my parents and then go to school.  This normal, everyday, very routine activity has given my girls’ a glimpse at a two parent household.  My dad gets ready for work, eats, and takes my kids to school.  Nothing fancy.  Just a normal everyday interaction.  My girls also go to my parent’s house after-school for a little over an hour each day.  On Wednesdays, my dad is off and they get to spend a little more time with him on those days, but again usually doing very routine, normal things like go to Costco.  This interaction with my dad has moved him beyond just being their grandpa, he has become a father figure to them.

My kids celebrate my dad on Father’s Day.  We focus on who they do have in their lives and now that they are a little older – they get it.  Yesterday my oldest daughter wrote “thank you for being a father figure to me” in my dad’s card.  She is 12, I have never talked to her about my dad being “a father figure” to her.  But she gets it.  My 11 year old thanked him for “taking us to school and putting up with us”.  She get’s it.  He plays a bigger role than just that of “grandpa”.

Acknowledge that you have to roles to play. 

Everyone’s single motherhood looks different.  Some separated parents still work as a team, or try to at least.  Some kids spend some time with dad and some time with mom – so they have an active father in their lives.  Some dad’s have passed away.  Some dad’s – for whatever reason – haven’t been involved in their children’s lives.

For me, I have had to play the role of mother and father.  I am in mother mode about 95%.  I am a comforter, a peacemaker, a caretaker, a cheerleader, and overall a big softy. My “father” side has to be strong and steadfast, a provider, protector, bread winner, disciplinarian, firmer – not how I typically want to act or respond, but my children need it.  I know that there will be tons of people who disagree with me, but my nature is nurture.  I think that most moms are that way and dads typically aren’t.  But nurture is only a portion of what my kids need, they need so much more.

There is a joke between me and my mother that I am the mom to my girls and she is the dad.  I pull her in when I need back up, she is tougher and more experienced than I am. When we REALLY need back-up, we pull my dad in.  We all need back-up when it comes to raising kids, some families have the dad available, and others don’t.  I would encourage you to find someone you can pull in when you need back up.  But the fact remains, for some moms – we have to roles to fill.  We can try, but we can’t ever truly fulfill the dad sized shoes that are missing in our kids life.

I reflect on this every Father’s Day.  I acknowledge the difficulty in the task of being both mom and dad – and sometimes I even do something special for myself.  I also pray for my children’s dad.  I pray for his salvation, his protection, and that he would be restored.  It can be challenging to pray for someone who has hurt you, but with practice – it gets easier.

Do something special with your kids.

Be sensitive to the fact that Father’s Day can be difficult for your children.  Do something fun with them.  Go to a movie, get fast food and eat at a park, have an adventure!  I know a single mom who takes a weekend trip with her daughter every Father’s Day weekend. They don’t do anything super fancy, they just get in the car and go somewhere new. Make Father’s Day weekend special in your own way.  Celebrate the dads and father figures in your life, reflect on the roles you play, pray, and enjoy your kids.

 

 

 

 

Broken Dreams

Last night – I had a dream.

In my dream, we were preparing to renew our wedding vows.  I had put on my wedding dress – which still fit (so I know for sure I was dreaming) and we were waiting for our guests to arrive.  He looked so handsome in his tux and we were both beaming, excited to renew our vows and renew our commitment to each other.  We knew the past few years had been hard, but we were looking forward to beginning anew – a stronger commitment to each other and to the Lord.  I felt loved, wanted, treasured, safe, and beautiful.  And then…

I woke up.

When I awoke, my eyes were wet and I realized that I had been crying in my sleep.  My heart was filled with grief for what I don’t have, what I never had, and mostly likely will never experience.

I am determined not to remarry, I believe that this isn’t in my future.  It isn’t because I’m extra tough or a strong feminist type.  It isn’t because I’m not attracted to the opposite sex.  And it certainly isn’t because I want to be alone.  I believe that the Lord has told me that I will remain single and the truth is, I don’t want to go through that kind of pain, fear, disappointment and heartache.  Ever. Never. Again!

I choose what I believe is best for my kids.  I choose what I believe is best for me.  Most importantly, I choose what I believe the Lord has for me – singleness.  It isn’t what I would have chosen for myself.  It isn’t what I had hoped my life would look like – but it is what I have.

I had made a vow to the Lord several months ago that I wasn’t going to grieve or lament after that which I didn’t have, including a husband and father for my girls.  If my dream has shown me anything – it is that deep down within the very depths of my soul, I still grieve.  On the outside, I look like I have it all together.  For the most part…I do because it is the Lord who holds it together for me.  But, deep down inside – I am sad for my children an myself because we are broken.

My children’s father is in prison.  My desire to be a wife didn’t work out, having to work full-time outside of the home wasn’t what I had wanted for my children.  Going to parent-teacher conferences, my children’s concerts and activities by myself wasn’t what I had planned on. Life for me isn’t cookie cutter perfect.

Even though I have broken dreams, I have an amazing life.  I have hope, peace, and real joy.  My greatest desire is to help other single moms realize that it is possible to have these things – even with broken dreams and imperfect lives.

I know I won’t become a viral sensation, but if I can help encourage a mom who is struggling as a single mother – then THAT will be enough.  I want my broken life and broken family to used for good and for God’s glory.  I am a thriving single mom.  Not because I am perfect, but because I allow Jesus to perfect me – to work in my life and to make my brokenness whole.  That is why I thrive.  That is why I love exactly where I am.

Hebrews 10:14 – For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

 

 

 

 

 

Children Come First After Divorce

When we are married there is no earthly relationship more important than that between a husband and wife.  When one divorces however, things need to shift and your children become the most important earthy relationship, period.

I know several people who think I am crazy, I have literally been mocked because I believe that I should remain single.  I believe that remaining single will give my kids their best chance at a stable home.

For several years I use to teach a course at the Billings Family YMCA where I worked as the Family and Youth Program Director.  The course was simply called “Childhood Abuse Prevention”.  Although this course was directed towards childcare workers and how they could help a child who may be experiencing abuse, I learned a lot that I applied to my own life and my own reasons as to WHY I feel led to remain single.  This particular blog will focus on my #1 reason for staying single, I have several – but to me, this reason is a no-brainer.

Most resources will tell us that every year in the United States, over 3 million children are abused.  This abuse would include, physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect.  What is more difficult to find is a breakdown of WHO is doing the abusing.  One great resource that I had found is actually on the Department of Health and Human Services page here. Now, you have to read carefully and not just look at the graphs to find out exactly what the break down is.  For example, the graph will look show you the big picture – that 51% of ALL charged cases of abuse came from the biological father.  However, the breakdown of the percentages of what type of abuse comes a little later and shows us this:  50% were charged with neglect only, 26% were charged with physical abuse only, 7% were charged with emotional abuse only, 7% were charged with sexual abuse only, and 11% were charged with some combination of the above.

To me, being a single mom wondering about dating and someday remarrying, I was really interested in what percent of abusers were boyfriends and stepfathers.  Here is what they found of all charged abuse cases.

Boyfriends of the mother: 31% were charged with neglect only. 30% were charged with physical abuse only. 20% were charged with sexual abuse only. 6% were charged with emotional abuse only. And 13% were charged with some combination of the above.

Stepfathers: 20% were charged with neglect only. 34% were charged with physical abuse only. 30% were charged with sexual abuse only.  4% were charged with emotional abuse only. And 12% were charged with some combination of the above.

Moms, are you paying attention here?  In reality, The percentage points remained some what close – except in the area of neglect and sexual abuse.  Biological fathers are more likely to be neglectful and less likely to sexually abuse their children when compared to boyfriends and stepfathers.  HOWEVER, Boyfriends and Stepfathers are MUCH more likely to sexually abuse your child.  Much. More. Likely.

I want to also point out that these numbers are based only on those who have gotten caught and who have been charged with the crime.  According to the Department of Justice, only about 30% of sexual abuse is actually reported to authorities.  How much higher are these numbers really?  The point is, much higher than we think.

My choice for remaining a single mom is my choice.  I believe that protecting my children is more important than having a companion.  I am not ignorant to the fact that children are also abused by uncles, cousins, older kids, and even women.  As a mom, I have also done everything that I possibly can to prevent this from happening.  I also know that sometimes really bad things happen.  However, I have made the personal commitment to NOT bring it into my home and to keep my home a safe place for my children.

I think that if more moms are aware of these statistics, it can help them guard their children from abusers.  Take steps and the actions needed to guard your children because the fact is – once the sexual abuse has happened, it’s happened.  Their lives won’t be the same.

The real question is this mom, will you do anything differently knowing this?