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Parenting Alone: Hope for Solo Moms Raising Boys

In a world where genders are easily confused, raising boys alone can seem hopeless.

My dad’s parents never married. Frankly, he was an unwanted surprise. Raised by his mother alone in the 1960s, this unexpected child ultimately became a preacher who led his own mother and hundreds of others to faith in Christ.

While this might not be the kind of story you hear about every day, it proves that there is hope for solo moms trying to parent alone. We can never know the miraculous potential of the life that God places in our care or the impact that we can have on our children.

Deuteronomy 11:19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

The Solo Mom’s Hope

Every parent knows that it’s a demanding journey. But parenting alone is even tougher. When raising boys alone in a broken world, the struggles that come with being a solo mom can be overwhelming—especially if the church community does not provide sufficient supports. But there’s hope. Adopting a purposeful mindset, resetting your priorities, and accepting the limits of your parenting space can help you successfully navigate the challenges of the solo parenting journey.

There is a growing number of single parents in the United States. A 2022 population survey by the US Census Bureau indicated that there are 10.6 million one-parent households, while an earlier Pew Research survey (2019) spotlighted that the United States has three times the world average of children who live in one-parent homes. The reasons are diverse. For some, single parenting comes after the death of a spouse. For others, legal or immigration issues separate the family; there’s an unplanned pregnancy, or a marriage didn’t go as hoped. Regardless of the reason, the burdens of parenting fall on one set of shoulders instead of two.

Adopting a Purposeful Mindset as a Solo Mom

When parenting alone, it’s easy to give into guilt. Wishing that you could provide better financial or emotional resources is a normal reaction, especially if your son frequently interacts with other kids that have both a mother and father at home. Boys face unique challenges in our world. If you’re a mom, you might feel intimidated by the prospect of raising a man with a female perspective. Even as a dad, you might doubt your ability to provide the balance that he’s going to need. In either case, it’s critical to shift your mindset from guilt or uncertainty and adopt a strong mindset of intentional living. Recognize that God gave this child to you regardless of the circumstances. He trusts you with this child’s life. So, accept a mindset of intentionality. Your “parent purpose” is to influence your son to the best of your ability.

Changing your mindset from what you wish you could offer to what you know you deliver is a parenting gamechanger. When you do this, your approach to challenges will be centered on your capabilities and life experience instead of the capabilities and experiences of others. For example, instead of saying “I wish your dad or mom were here,” center yourself on the fact that you are there to meet that boy’s needs. You have a calling, perspectives, and abilities that no one else can replicate. This shift empowers you to proactively tackle the tough moments where discipline is necessary and stand by your decisions, regardless of whether or not things go as planned.

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Reset Your Priorities While Parenting Alone

Most church-going parents will say their kids are their priority. But parenting is more like a juggling act than it is a game of basketball. There are multiple priorities flying around at the same time, and each one demands your attention. Your son should be your priority, but the reality is that he can’t be the only one. Another critical priority is self-care. Remember, before you became a parent, you were a person. And you are still human. The toll of parenting can grate on your mental ability to cope with new challenges. If you’re not physically or mentally prepared to deal with the day’s challenges, it becomes easy for everything to fall apart. Prioritize your emotional and physical needs so that you make the time to invest in yourself. Give yourself space to struggle, grace to grow, and whatever time it takes to learn how to juggle everything.

Accepting the Limits of Your Parenting Space

Parents are the world’s greatest optimists. Even in those moments where we stare at our kid and wonder what he was thinking — or not thinking — we still tell him he can do better. There’s a spark of optimism that we’ve got to cling to in the darkest of times. With that said, it’s critical to recognize that there are limits to what you can do as a parent. Let me explain what I mean.

The Hypothetical Parent Space

Imagine that you’re in a large room with your son. Everything outside that room is beyond your control. Your son can come and go as he pleases, but you are stuck within the confines of that room.

The room symbolizes your parenting space or sphere of influence. Your space is filled with whatever you put into your relationship. Maybe you’ve got sports, school, or movies. Hopefully, there’s a Bible and a prayer section occupying a good bit of your space. But there are solid walls in each room. In this case, those boundaries are time constraints, your age, finances, and the millions of other factors that limit what you can do in a day.

Now, remember, your son can go beyond those boundaries.

Technology, social influences, an intrinsic male perspective of the world, and everything else that comes with being young can take him outside the limits that you set.

As a parent, this can be exasperating because, again, these are factors you can’t always control. Now, I’m inviting you to accept the limits of your parenting space instead of resisting them.

Reconfigure your mentality so that you see those imaginary walls as helping you focus on the things you can control instead of obstacles that shut you out from other areas of your son’s life. When you accept the limits of your parenting space, you relieve stress, and focus on what you’re putting into your son’s life instead of what he’s making of his life.

Which leads me to my next point.

Recognize Your Son’s Individuality in Solo Parenting

Your son is his own individual and will make life choices that he feels are best for him. Your goal is to be a coach in his life, not shape his life. As long as you feel it’s your job to make your son the man you want him to be, then you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration.

To be perfectly honest, in almost twenty years of ministry, I haven’t seen many people who have become the man or woman that they wanted themselves to be. If it’s hard to shape our own lives, should we really try to shape someone else’s life?

The good news is that if there isn’t a positive male role model in his life, you don’t have to fill this void alone.

Good Male Influences are Abundant

You can amplify your voice by surrounding him with a quality network of male influences, such as you might find in a vibrant church or a community-serving organization. Get help by connecting with relatable role models and choosing movies that feature males that make a difference. If he’s into reading, look for books that feature positive male influences and present him with opportunities to engage with present or past male icons.

If you’re a dad who’s raising a son alone, flip this model around. Consider female family members or friends who might be able to add positive perspectives to his life.

On occasion, inventory what’s in your fictitious parenting space. Are there things you want to remove? Are there empty spots that you’re procrastinating on filling? Can it help him move forward on his journey? Make changes as needed but don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, your parenting space may not have everything you want, but if it’s Christ-centered and truly reflects your best effort, then it is enough.

Raising boys and parenting alone, try to see yourself as part of God’s greater plan and be encouraged in knowing that His ways are higher than ours. Wherever you are in the journey, adopt a purposeful mindset, reset your priorities, and accept the limits of your parenting space to be better able to successfully navigate whatever challenges that each day brings.

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