The five best single-parent tips

When you are alone as a single parent, physically exhausted, and on emotional overload, parenting may seem overwhelming. However, you can find encouragement in God's Word:

1. Look optimistically at what God is doing in your life and in the lives of your children.

"Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered" (Luke 12:7).

Finding yourself in this situation may be a surprise to you, but it is not a surprise to Him. Be confident that God understands your situation and is always at work in your life.

2. Be conscious that your behavior influences that of your children. Avoid actions that would be embarrassing to share with your children later in life.

"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).

Children listen to every word and watch every action of their parents. There is no role model more important than that of a Mom or Dad. However, as a single parent, because you feel hurt, alone, and even rejected from time to time, you may tend to forget that you are setting examples of behavior that your children will imitate.

3. Discipline with the intent of teaching responsibility, not with the intent of punishing.

"The Lord disciplines those he loves" (Proverbs 3:12).

Discipline is teaching and is never about being angry or getting even. Many single parents feel guilty that their children are in a single-parent household and, therefore, neglect discipline or teaching their children responsibility for their actions. Children need to feel secure in knowing that they are loved enough to be disciplined fairly and consistently.

4. Speak encouragingly and carefully to children so as not to "exasperate them" (Ephesians 6:3) and cause them to become discouraged.

"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26).

What you say to your children stays in their hearts for a lifetime. If it is harsh and demeaning, the wounds may never be healed. Your children are special treasures. Despite characteristics that may challenge you as a parent, God designed your children purposefully. Too often children become the verbal targets of anger and frustration in a single parent home. Each member of the family deserves respect at all times.

5. Break bad habits and you will reap the rewards of those choices immediately.

"If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer" (Proverbs 9:12).

As a single parent, you may get stuck in a vicious cycle of impulsive actions and knee-jerk reactions that keep you and your children off guard for several years. It is not easy to find solid footing when life keeps swirling around you. But the godly counsel of many is critical.

Theresa McKenna is is the founder and Director of the Single Parent Family Resource Center and an author.

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