Single parenting is not easy. Moms raising kids without a dad carry a heavy load, including their children’s grief. Not only is she managing the home and all that comes with that, but she is also working to balance the budget, her time, and the extra responsibilities.
For moms raising toddlers and young children alone, it is important that she keeps her focus on being physically, emotionally, and spiritually engaged. The window to plant the important seeds that will bring forth good fruit is short.
When the teenage years come, the role of a single mom changes as her daughters and sons move toward adulthood. The role of a single mom shifts and intensifies as her children move into their teenage years. Without her husband, she is left to parent in a different way from the early years and differently from that of a mom in a two-parent setting. In the traditional two-parent family, this is the time where Dad often steps up to the plate, coaching and mentoring his sons in the way they should go while providing the necessary guardrails for his daughters. Mom (and hopefully some trusted mentors) will now assume all of these important roles.
Here are 5 things to understand about the single mom of teens and how to help:
- The teenage years bring with them new freedoms, responsibilities, and roles for both the single mom and teen.
How to help: Pray for mom to have the wisdom she needs as she “loosens the leash” while keeping the necessary guardrails in place for her teens.
- Discipline changes. Natural consequences provide greater life lessons than those previously carried out by the mom.
How to help: Discuss with her the conversations she should have with her children so they are both prepared for the years ahead. For example, when her teens start to drive, help her create a contract that clearly outlines the expectations and consequences for violating the rules (hers and the law).
- Parenting fatherless teenage sons is challenging. As they move towards independence and their God-given role as leaders of the home, they often overstep their bounds with mom, as the authority figure, forgetting that this is her home and not theirs.
How to help: The single mom needs someone to advocate for her as the parent. Teenage boys need mentors at this stage more than ever – men to serve as a guide and to be there, offering affirmation and challenging them when they need a strong voice.
- Fatherless teenage girls need godly role models.
How to help: Consider stepping in as a couple, providing a model of a godly life and marriage. And love them during a time when they will be tempted to look for love in all the wrong places.
- A new strength is required. Single moms must step up as both mom and dad, the “good cop and the bad cop.” No longer can she give them a hug and dry their tears as she did in the younger years. Now she is required to stand firm and stand up to her teens when they test the limits.
How to help: Support her in every way that you can. Include her family with your own, modeling parenting while helping her parent, and backing her up as the authority in the home. You can also help provide the necessary outside, loving, authoritarian role that is missing with the absent dad.
God promises to be a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). Often, the way He “fathers” is through the body of Christ, family, and friends. The impact of your support and involvement in the life of a single mom will reap eternal rewards, not only for her and her children but also for you.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27, KJV).