“I will NEVER be like her!” I was judging the thirty-something single mom with a half-grown child. Because of my own actions, I was a single mother at twenty-three, cocky and naïve, thinking my story would be different. Well, here I am on the edge of thirty-two with an eight year old little guy and Prince Charming has yet to swoop in and save the day, so I'm learning how to raise a son...singlehandedly.
How to Raise a Son
Worried about raising a boy on my own, I spent many years of my son’s life treating dating as if it were an interview for his future father. I wasn’t thinking about finding someone that shared my interests. I was focused on finding someone I wouldn’t mind my son growing up to be like. And the sooner I found this man, the better. My son was getting older and noticing the absence of a dad in his life. Every way that I tried to be both mom and dad, that I tried to fill the void of the missing father figure in his life, was an epic fail.
When I got my life straight with God and finally started living for Him I thought this would fix my predicament. Surely God was going to send a matrimonial blessing my way and all my worries about raising a boy alone would go away. My desperation to find this man didn’t stop, it just became the center of my prayer life.
My son’s desire for a dad grew stronger and he began to pray every night for God to send him “a nice dad that would play with him and keep us safe.” Every night I would listen to his earnest prayer, then I would go in my room and cry. I didn’t know how to tell him that God might not have a dad out there for him. How do you explain to a child the reasons why God says “no” when you don’t even understand yourself?
I kept hearing pastors quoting Psalm 68:6 “God sets the lonely in families,” and would pray this verse continuously. But then I started paying more attention to the hearts of the women around me. Many were not that different from me. They were raising children on their own because their husbands worked long hours or out of town, were deployed overseas, or were just emotionally absent in their homes. These women had men in their lives, their family was the definition of “traditional,” yet they were still struggling. It hit me then that God had already placed me in a family, a family of just two, this amazing little boy and me!
I finally stopped praying for God to send a man into our lives to teach my son how to be a man, and instead to equip and help me to raise a Godly man on my own. It’s amazing the changes I began to see when I finally started praying the right prayer. My son’s nightly prayers for a dad stopped and one day he turned to me and said “Mom, when you hear me talk about my daddy, I’m talking about Jesus; He is the one I talk to every day, He’s my dad!”
He started talking to me about how he wanted to pray like the men in church and how much he loved Jesus and wanted to see others saved. Every time that I would bow my head and clasp my hands in prayer, his little eyes were watching and his little hands were copying mine. Every time I cried out to the Lord in pain or in joy, praised and worshipped him, and stood firm in my faith, my son was watching and he was learning what it meant to set his heart and his eyes on God.
Jesus fought for your heart...and won
Single or married, many women carry the burden of raising a Godly child on their own. I see married women every day that not only fight for the hearts of their children but carry their husbands spiritually as well. You may be carrying this burden today, wondering if anything you are doing is making a difference. Just because you don’t have a strong male leadership in your home doesn’t mean that the fate of your child is doomed.
Let go of your own ideas and desires about what your “family” should look like. Evaluate your prayers, are you asking God to change a circumstance or hearts? A changed circumstance will pass on by, but a changed heart will give life for as long as it beats. When your situation seems bleak and you don’t know how to change the hearts closest to you, just remember the promises of the Lord when we trust and follow him.
“God’s love...is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.” ~Psalm 103:17 MSG
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