Proverbs 2:7 – He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.
Every since I became a single mom, I have had one nagging fear – “as a single mom, I am going to ruin my children”. We’ve heard the comments and statistics shared on television, Christian radio, “well” meaning friends, heck – even from the pulpit. Kids who are raised by a single parent are “more likely”. Here are some examples I have heard over the years –
Kids who are raised by a single parent are more likely –
- To live in poverty
- To have behavioral problems
- To drop out of school
- To become pregnant as a teenager
- To never go to college
- To become addicted to alcohol and drugs
- To become divorced
If this wasn’t bad enough, my kids also have a father who has been incarcerated for almost all of their childhood, so lets add to the list that my kids “will be more likely” –
- to live on welfare
- to engage in criminal activity themselves
- to have an unstable home
- to be placed in foster care
- to have mental health issues
And this is just barely touching the surface. After reading these “statistics” or hearing these comments, it’s easy to see why a single parent could be fearful. The fact is – our mistakes impact our children. My kids have had to live with a lot emotions that I never had to experience as a child – like shame, embarrassment, and fear. They are ashamed to have a father who is in prison and are reminded of it every single time they are asked about their dad. They live in fear – what will it be like when he gets out? They also struggle with feelings of abandonment – why doesn’t he call us anymore?
Having to see your children go through these emotions is heart-wrenching. I hate it. I hate that THIS is their reality. I hate the shame and stigma that surrounds them – and me.
When people get to know us, their preconceived ideas of “single mom” homes usually goes away. But the fact remains – it is there. I currently work for a Christian non-profit and I almost didn’t get the job because I am divorced. I had to explain to them during my interview WHY I was divorced. That was embarrassing. I don’t typically like to share with strangers that I was in an abusive relationship. In the Christian circle – I feel that I am constantly having to “justify” my divorce, which on one hand it understandable – especially if you are working for a ministry.
Even though we have this cloud of “stuff” hanging over us, I am determined to not let it define us.
I was blessed with an amazing experience last week. My girls just completed the 5th and 6th grade and due to some changes in our school district, BOTH will be attending Jr. High next year. Their elementary school was holding an awards ceremony and a “sending off to Jr. High” party. My girls begged me to go and I was able to find someone to cover for me at work. My oldest daughter, Abby, called me at work the day before – “just to make sure I really was able to come” because she had just been notified that she was receiving some very special awards.
During the ceremony, my children were presented with many awards and I was beaming. I am so proud of my children because these awards showed me two things – they are hard workers and they are kind. As a mother, I couldn’t ask for more than that. It really isn’t about the awards themselves – but what my kids had to do to receive them. They both work hard at school. They are both leaders in their classrooms. They are both kind to other children.
I was in awe of the Lord’s goodness that day as I remembered all the “more likely’s” that my children face. The Lord showed me that we are ALL “more likely” to fail in this life, but with hope, perseverance, hard work and kindness towards others – we can overcome the “more likely’s” when our eyes are fixed on Jesus.
My encouragement to you would be simply this – don’t focus on the “more likely’s”, but focus on Christ and His ability to overcome. Through him, we can do ALL things – including overcoming the cloud of “stuff” that surrounds us and weighs us down.