For spouses who fought to save their marriages or whose split came as a last resort to maintain safety within the family, divorce is a grave hardship for men and women, alike. Hardship in the form of financial concerns immediately come to mind. In our economy that teeters on the verge of collapse, single parents valiantly move heaven and earth to make ends meet and give their children what they need. They will do whatever it takes for their kids, often if not always, putting themselves and their own needs last.
But probably one of the most difficult aspects of being a single parent is playing the role of the absent mother or father. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of parents do a phenomenal job in helping their child become as well-rounded and firmly grounded person as possible. But there is a reason why God created families with a father and a mother. Each one has unique gifts they bring to the table that provide stability and balance to the children.
So, as a single parent, I’d like to offer you a suggestion I hope will help you out: don’t be afraid of asking others to help you fill in the gaps that would normally be filled in by your ex-spouse.
For example, after my friend, Skotti, was divorced, she regularly asked the dads of other families she trusted to take her 10 year-old boy on the father-son outings they went on. Camping, miniature golf, a baseball game, whatever it was, she became adept at getting her child involved with other dads and sons because she knew doing these things was a unique and necessary experience she, herself, could not provide.
I can imagine it would be the same for you if you are a single father, trying your best to give your daughter everything she needed. What a heroic effort it is to be so committed to covering all the bases. But there is probably a good Christian mom you know somewhere who would be willing to take your daughter skating with her girls, or to the nail salon to get her fingernails painted, or something “girly” that could help balance out all you are doing, yourself.
Some people may not feel comfortable sticking their necks out in this manner because it can feel like admitting weakness, or worse yet, you might feel like the other parent thinks you’re hitting on them. But not to worry. If you are completely upfront about wanting your child to have a good experience, and if in your heart you know it’s purely for the sake of your child’s happiness, you can overcome any discomfort about making this kind of request.
Another good idea is looking into Big Brothers/Big Sisters in your area. A few years after my divorce I, myself, became a Big Sister and know the solid process of examining and investigating each person who applies so as to ensure a person to be a trustworthy and responsible influence in the life of a child looking for leadership and friendship. It was a great way for me to stop focusing on my divorce and be a helping hand for another parent.
As a single parent, doing your best does not mean you must do it all. There are people who would probably jump at the chance to give you a break and help you out with some of these finer details. That way, even you can carve out some time for yourself, too.
Feel free to send me your disagreements, comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.