Good Parenting Single Parenting
Web Links/Contacts (including domestic violence)
Being a parent is a real sacrifice. Having children is not to be taken lightly. Once you have children, you have a responsibility to raise them well and look after their well being, whatever their age. The importance of a healthy marriage as a foundation for raising happy and well adjusted children cannot be underestimated. Where there is divorce, the statistics are clear. Divorce often harms the emotional well being and the prospects of healthy and normal life for children. Ephesians 5:22,25 teaches us that wives and husbands should respect and submit to one another. Also in chapter 6:4, the writer of Ephesians teaches that fathers should not exasperate their children. In other words, they should not be unreasonable or unfair to them, but treat them with respect.
Expectations about Children’s achievements.
It is a common error of parents to have either unrealistic or misplaced expectations of their children. This may be in the form of demanding unrealistic academic achievement from children or teenagers. An example of a misplaced expectation could be the expectation that a teenager will follow in a certain career path. The effect of this can be very damaging. Our children are individuals. Whilst it is hard for teenagers to make informed decisions about which academic courses to take or which career path to follow, manipulation and pressure will not help and can be very destructive and damaging. For example, if a teenager is pushed into a career path that they really did not want to pursue, then there is the danger that they will either leave the related academic course out of despondence, or later end up very unhappy in their career. Although parents usually do want their children to be both happy and financially secure, they should be careful to give teenagers space and listen to what they want. However, this is not to say that they cannot provide wise guidance and advice.
Disciplining Children and Teenagers
Godly, effective discipline is both consistent and fair. We need to understand our children and teach them how to think, value and to behave when they are developed enough to learn these things. They will learn that certain actions and attitudes will reap benefits or penalties. Children are very good at detecting unfairness, so we should be careful to be consistent in carrying out discipline where it is both forewarned and justified. We should also make sure that we keep our promises about giving rewards when our children behave well. Children are immature and at times difficult to deal with. They can be very annoying! Parents need patience and a consistent approach in discipline - for their own interests and for the sake of their children. Children who are treated fairly and disciplined consistently will provide a greater chance of being a pleasure to look after and will hopefully also grow up to be happy and emotionally secure.
Teenagers are developing adults and it is well known that adolescence is a difficult period of change and adjustment for them. Teenagers can think and decide for themselves. There should be a careful balance between parental guidance and allowing teenagers autonomy and the freedom to make certain decisions themselves. The degree of each of these factors will depend on the age of the teenager. You can (and should) teach your children not to take drugs or have sex, but in the end they will always have the opportunity to break the rules when you are not there. Rather than coldly laying down the law, it is so important to explain to teenagers exactly why to avoid doing something - what the consequences and dangers are.
God does not force us to love Him. We cannot force our teenagers to make sensible moral decisions, or to follow God and go to church. It can be very difficult for Christian parents to deal with one or several children who turn from God and follow their own way. They will obviously hope and will be praying that their children will come to know God. Another important point to make is that Christian teenagers need to develop their own relationship with God. They should not simply be holding on to a faith on the basis of merely going to church or because they are just following the example of their parents.
Dealing with parental failure, sorrow & forgiveness
Normal functioning in a family is when there is at least some reasonable feeling of togetherness and mutual tolerance. Where things go wrong and people hurt one another, forgiveness needs to come. This is the only way that there can be healing and restoration. Matthew 5: 21-26 covers anger, forgiveness and reconciliation. Also Mark 11:25 says, “Forgive, so that your father in heaven may forgive you”.
When we let our children down, we need to face up to our failure with humility. God can bring healing and restoration, but you cannot expect everything to necessarily right itself immediately. You should clearly say sorry to your children, so that they understand your sorrow for the mistakes you have made. Where there has been deep neglect or even abuse of some sort, nothing can reverse this. However, it is still possible that over a time of peace and the rebuilding of trust, God can bring healing, hope and reconciliation.
Raising up a child or several children on your own is very demanding. Whatever the reasons for single parents not having a partner, whether because of death, divorce, separation, or perhaps the parent was not married in the first place, the challenge is similar. It is hard to see your child or children grow up without another parent. You know that they are inevitably missing out on something that should have been theirs as a child - having two parents. Even if you are a wonderful parent to your children, it is impossible to plug this other parent gap. This is something that just has to be accepted; it is now out of your control. If you desire a husband or wife, it is possible to find another partner. However, practically speaking, it can be more difficult to find a partner if you already have children.
Those who are searching for a partner will have two concerns. Firstly, they will want someone who is suitable for them and who will be faithful and loving. Secondly, they will want a peace and assurance that their marriage partner will respect, love and genuinely care for their children. These things really should not be rushed, as it takes time to get to know someone and to observe their behaviour and attitude to both yourself and to your children.
Single parents need practical support and friendship within church. They need to have social activity outside of the home and will need the occasional baby sitter for this! There should be welcome and acceptance for single parents in the Church. It can be an extra, unnecessary burden for single parents to have to face misunderstanding, stigma and judgmental attitudes. As we have already stated, the causes of single parent families are varied, but they do not necessarily arise out of any fault of the single parent. If there is fault present, we know that God always forgives those who regret their mistakes or their sin. Matthew 7:1 warns against being judgemental. Let us make sure that we support single parent families and do not make things harder for them. God takes this very seriously. As Matthew 7:1 says,
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
Family life and Parenting
www.familylife.com - a Christian site.
www.fotf.org - about and for the whole family - children, parents, Christian teens.
www.christians-in-recovery.org/links/Links/Christian/Relationships_Marriage _and_Divorce - links for marriage, relationships and divorce.
www.allaboutfamilies.org - help Christians be better parents and marriage partners.
www.heartlight.org/foreverfamily - help to build a holy family.
www.protechco.com/dadtodad/default.htm - how a father’s life impacts his children.
www.parentsplace.com - parent information and resources.
www.zerotothree.org - National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families (for children 0-3 years old).
www.members.aol.com/focusnews1 - Christian help for domestic violence, physical and verbal abuse.
www.abuseministries.com/book - Christian site with help for physical, psychological and verbal abuse.
www.dvsheltertour.org - Domestic Violence Shelter Tour. Personal stories and photos. Map lists help organisations.
home.vicnet.net.au/~girlsown - For teens in abusive relationships.
www.sacbee.com/news/projects/violence - about family violence.
UK Phone Helplines
Gingerbread Advice Line - 0800 018 4318.
Parentline - 0808 800 2222, Text Phone 0800 783 6783.
Lone Parent Helpline - 0800 018 5026.
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