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May 13, 2024

The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make

If you're a single mom, you can relate to struggles with finances, custody, emotional stress, and more. Yet, despite the challenges, there are significant rewards of raising a child or children. Today's guest post from PeggySue Wells (co-author of "The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make" and the single parent of seven children) provides insight on how to thrive—not just survive—as a solo parent and create a nurturing home.

It's not easy being a single mother. Many of us share the same challenges and fears: You feel stretched to the limit. You think your children need more than you're able to give. Or, you wonder how you can do it all on your own.

Here's some encouragement: You are capable of parenting with courage, confidence, and clarity. As a single parent who has raised seven children, I'd like to share some helpful and encouraging things I've discovered.

My journey as a single mother began when the youngest of my seven children was one year old. Despite years of counseling, an escalating situation brought our family together in the living room, where I explained that we could no longer live with my spouse's unsafe behavior. There needed to be immediate improvements from my husband. Yet, there were none and he chose to leave.

Years later, when my youngest child went to college, a friend asked me, "What did you learn from single parenting for 18 years?"

Mainly, I learned that no matter how your journey began, or where you are today, there are powerful decisions to help single-mom families thrive.

Partnering with author Pam Farrel, who was raised by a single mother, we shared our best practical helps and tangible tips in the book, The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make.

Here are 10 vital choices a single mom can make that will create a positive difference in your family life as you decide to thrive, be decisive, create a nurturing home, be a proactive parent, partner with God, introduce your child to Jesus Christ, live in community, date or not date wisely, respond in healthy ways, and embrace your happily ever after.

1) Thrive. The reality for many single moms is that you may feel isolated, judged, or lonely. But you're not alone. Here are a few statistics about single-parent homes in America:

• One in four homes is single-parent led.

• Approximately 15 million single parents are solo parenting 22 million children in single-parent families.

• More than three-fourths have a full-time career.

• Less than half receive child support or government assistance.

The majority of single parents began in committed relationships and never anticipated, expected, or intended to raise children on their own. Thankfully, God's Word provides strength and wisdom. Jeremiah 33:3 reminds us, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

With the Lord's gentle guidance, you can make wise decisions that will benefit you, your children, your community, and future generations. Be assured that though you may feel lonely, you are never alone. The Lord is with you.

2) Be Decisive. At times I've wondered, "If my choice in a parenting partner turned out so disappointingly, how can I think I'll choose wisely with other important decisions?" But none of our outcomes are a surprise to God. He promises to work all things for good, and He equips us to make wise choices through Scripture, prayer, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

God loves you and your children. He lovingly helps single parents make and implement life-giving decisions. Rest assured. "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you," James 5:1 NIV.

3) Create a Nurturing Home. Emotional safety is key to raising children who lead, live, and love well. One of the most important gifts we give our children is a home synonymous with being safe.

We can create such an environment by consistently extending acts of kindness (large and small), and showing respect and thoughtfulness to one another during the good days and the challenging seasons of life. In doing so, family members can form touchpoints that hold relationships together despite times of crisis, and cultivate a supportive and encouraging home.

4) Be a Proactive Parent. A single-parent home is still a family—a place where members connect, belong, and are worthy of celebration. The family is an ideal setting for children to learn emotional and social skills to last a lifetime, such as patience and how to treat others with kindness.

In a single-parent home, it's also important to teach children to speak honestly, process their feelings, and resolve conflict so they are better equipped to handle life.

Raising kids with integrity begins by just doing the next right thing. And establishing healthy boundaries. This teaches them that their behavior has consequences—positive or negative—and that mom and her children can make good choices. In fact, life is easier and more peaceful when you know your limits (what you will and won't do) even before a challenging choice is before you.

The challenges we face as single parents are opportunities to practice generosity, grace, and gratitude—and not take ourselves (or circumstances) too seriously.

5) Partner with God. At times, we can become overwhelmed by decisions about where to invest our limited time, energy, and funds. Scripture clarifies two priorities—love God and love others.

Jesus replied, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments," Matthew 22:37-40 NIV.

In all situations, we can ask God to show us the loving thing to say or do. And He who knows us and the hearts of others, will guide our actions, behavior, and words.

6) Introduce Your Child to Jesus Christ. At some point, every child becomes aware that he or she needs more love than their parent can give. Children crave the assurance that God is fully in control and with them, even when life seems scary or hard.

They need to know that He is our Good Shepherd and he lovingly leads us. Begin early to introduce your children to Jesus—and His love for them.

Familiarize them with the Bible, and demonstrate the accessibility of prayer. We can talk with God any time; He is approachable and He is always there.

7) Live in Community. The majority of single moms and their children are unchurched. Sadly, many congregations aren't always sure what to do with single-parent families. There can be an unspoken belief that if we were "spiritual enough," our marriages would have survived.

Thankfully, not all churches are alike. Seek out a church where you find love and acceptance with welcoming people. The church as a community has much to offer to a single mom and her family, including connecting with others and forming friendships. Single moms have much to offer to the church, too. There is a place for you.

8) To Date Or Not Date Wisely. As a single person, it's normal to miss being loved and in love. But recognize the tendency to think that another relationship will be your savior or rescue you. In this season of singleness, there's wisdom in first being single-focused on getting physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

Expect and accept honorable treatment from others, including potential romantic interests. As you listen to the Holy Spirit, you may find you're called to raise your child in a wholesome single-parent home, without a partner.

However, if you decide to date, be certain your child is ready for you to introduce a new man into their lives. It is vital for you and the safety of your child to know the difference between a bozo (a fool) and a Boaz (a person of integrity). Take your time and choose wisely.

9) Respond in Healthy Ways. Difficult things happen. How will you respond? For instance, how does a single mom deal with the hurt when her children grow up and suddenly reject her, and view him, the absent parent, as the hero? How do you handle it when the father (who wouldn't pay child support) builds his own million-dollar home and takes glamorous vacations, while mom is still paying monthly on divorce attorney bills and her child's braces?

It's easy to get angry or irritated when things like that happen. Learn to deal with emotions, knowing that bitterness corrodes and seeks to destroy you emotionally. Grace is a healing bridge between two people in relationships. And forgiveness is a superpower that God provides to bring healing. Forgiveness, coupled with setting healthy boundaries, can set you free to live the hope-filled today and tomorrows you desire for you and your child.

10) Embrace Your Happily Ever After. God doesn't expect us to be experts in family life. He is with us every step of the way leading and guiding us. He calls us to come alongside one another in times of need. When there's a crisis, it can destroy you, or it can make you stronger. The turning point comes in how we approach the crisis.

Whatever you face, the Lord will give you strength. And from all of it, you will have the real-life experience—of coming through your trials—which, in time, could encourage others who've faced single-parent difficulties.

Singleness is Not Your Identity
Being a solo parent for many years, I learned that being a single mom is my experience, but not my identity. Because of my situation, and how I choose to handle life as a single parent, I can come alongside and help others. Whether it's the loss of a marriage partner or another traumatic event, you and I can be the hands of Jesus to someone who is suffering.

Remember, you don't have to have a perfect life before you can comfort or inspire others. You have unique gifts, talents, and abilities that your community needs.

You are here for such a time as this. And God is more than able to work in and through you. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

PeggySue Wells is the bestselling author of 40 books and collaborator of many more. How to live better, easier, and simpler is the focus of her nonfiction books including, The 10 Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make (co-authored with Pam Farrel). PeggySue is the founder of SingleMomCircle.com. Connect with her at peggysuewells.com.