No matter how we arrived at single parenting, it's safe to assume we never planned to parent alone. Navigating through this unexpected season of life brings waves of new emotions.
Widows, in particular, experience devastation. Looking into the eyes of their children, they must be at a loss for words. But the same could be true of unwed or divorced mothers. It's not uncommon for grief to strike a parent who just lost a relationship that she thought was going to last. It's natural to mourn the loss of what could have been, what was hoped for.
There is a time to grieve for what we have lost, whether it's a death or a failed relationship. But if we are not careful, depression, self-pity and loneliness may sneak up and overwhelm us. And as we suffer, our children suffer. Here's where we get into the danger zone, when we can't move past the hurt — and the hurt separates us from the healthy relationships we need.
Pursue healthy relationships
If you find yourself facing the desire to retreat from supportive relationships, consider the following truths:
You need people in your life who love and accept you. The Lord created us for relationship. Therefore, it's crucial for single parents to reach out and be open to receiving help from family and friends. Encouragement, prayer and strength are found through fellowship (Ecclesiastes 4:12). This vital support allows us to be stronger parents to our children, too.
You may also consider joining a single-parent support group to find compassion among those who know what you're going through. Friendship with other single parents may offer a fresh perspective and insight for decision making.
People need you just as much as you need them. Your friendship is an asset to others. Your worth, and that of your children, is not diminished by divorce; rather, God values you and your kids because of who you are in Christ. As your family accepts these truths, new friendships will grow and existing bonds will be strengthened.
Supportive relationships are vital for both parents and children. By fighting the desire to separate yourself during difficult times of transition, you are giving your children your very best — a loving parent who values and pursues healthy relationships.
Jennifer Maggio is the author of Overwhelmed: The life of a single mom and The Church and the Single Mom.