I had dreamed about a happy family, a clean house, a warm and inviting meal with me and the father of my children in that picture. In the midst of my husband’s doctoral degree pursuit and all that entailed, his job, his volunteering in church, and his excessive computer-gaming habits, I realized that if I wanted a photo of that happy family, we’d have to fake a pose and snap the picture quickly. This was not the happily-ever-after I had planned on. I was raising my kids alone even though I was married. I was a solo parent.
A What?A solo parent is someone who is raising children and running a home and family alone. I am primarily writing to the married woman who solo parents. Her husband might be working away from home or putting in exceptionally long hours; he might be captured by the lure of hobbies and interests that eat up his time, addicted to any number of things that impede his ability to be a good husband and father, or hindered by health issues that keep him from assisting his wife in the everyday running of their home and family. She feels fully responsible for how the house and yard are maintained, how the kids are raised, the spiritual well-being of the family, how well the kids do in school, and the family finances—no matter how well or how poorly that is going. She feels like the buck will stop with her for any emergencies, and often all failures as well. She carries a heavy load and falls into bed by herself at the end of the day, exhausted.
My story will be different from yours. Each solo parent has a unique set of circumstances. Your struggles will be different from mine. Every generation has had its share of married solo parents. Yet somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten how it is done: how a woman with a husband does the job of raising her kids when he is not around.
- A man in the military
- A busy doctor or lawyer
- An executive, traveling businessman, or workaholic
- Someone who works two jobs to provide for you and your children
- Someone serving time in prison
- A man with alcohol, drug, gambling, pornography, computer, or online-gaming addictions
- A pastor or ministry worker
- A man with a chronic or terminal health condition
I have carried that load.
What Is a Solo Parent?
During my years as a solo parent, I’ve had some hard-to-answer questions.
- How do I find time to spend with God?
- Would it be easier if I left my husband?
- What do I do when my kids are suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually because of my husband’s absence or lack of involvement?
- How can I love my husband when I feel like a doormat or his servant and nanny?
- Is it okay to meet my sexual needs without my husband or outside my marriage if he is never around or available?
- How can I teach my kids about godly marriage relationships if they never see one in our own home?
- Is it okay to pray for my husband to die so that I can respectably marry a different man to be a dad to my kids?
Being a solo parent definitely has its benefits. I loved making decisions without having to wait for James to agree with me. I could make plans without checking with him first like my girlfriends all had to with their hubbies. There was no one to tell what I had spent money on because I took care of it all. I could arrange the furniture and yard just as I liked because James was never there to give his opinion. If I was going out to eat, I had two choices: some kids place or anywhere my heart desired. I could watch chick flicks and cry when I watched them. My girlfriends could come over and even have a sleepover. It was just like college days, except for the diapers we changed while we chatted, the larger-size clothing, and the kids who woke up before we were done talking.
- I loved that I had full influence on the kids—until I heard them yelling my words at each other.
- I loved that I could make whatever my heart desired for dinner—until I got sick of the leftovers all week.
- I loved that I could wear my favorite sloppy clothes and not have to look nice for anyone—until I missed the compliments.
The ChallengeSolo parenting was not my dream life. I’m sure it’s not yours, either. Like it or not, though, this is the challenge that faces some of us.
The Challengefor the married solo parent is to be
a woman whose heart seeks after God;
a wife who honors her husband and teaches her children to do likewise;
a mother who teaches her children how to
seek after God, honor him, obey him, and love him in all things
while practically caring for their needs,
all the while leaving room in the family for her husband to be
the man, husband, and father God created him to be.
To run from this challenge is to refuse to see the wonderful purpose God himself has chosen you for.
I believe God created you and me. It is remarkable to me—completely incomprehensible—how intricate and delicately balanced our bodies are. Add to that a brain that somehow houses our thoughts, controls impulses to our body, and communicates with it without our having to first think the thoughts. And how does our brain communicate emotion to our souls? Wow! I believe that there is one true God who created each of us beautifully and for a purpose.
Each of us has many different purposes for different seasons of our lives. For the solo parent, God has planned a very special purpose...one that he chose us for. That’s why grabbing hold of this challenge and making it your own is so important.
You may be saying to yourself, “Isn’t that what every Christian mother should be doing?”
Absolutely! The difference is that for a solo parent the reasons for being that kind of woman, wife, and parent are different from those of a mom with an involved dad. When fully engaged parents rely too much on the other spouse to get the job done, at least there is a backup. The solo parent has no backup; no one’s available to step in when she’s having a bad day. The emotions and overloaded to-do list also make rising to this challenge that much more difficult.
If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have chosen to spend your life becoming more like him and choosing to obey him in all things, you have at your disposal all you need to succeed. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). God promises in the Bible that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). That means that God is working in you to make this perfect by the end. It doesn’t have to be perfect today or tomorrow...but he is working in you and me, that we might become the kind of mom, wife, mother, friend, and godly woman that he intends, and he’s not going to stop until he gets it just right!
Adapted from: Married Mom, Solo Parent by Carla Anne Coroy (2011). Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. www.kregel.com. Used with Permission. Artilce by Carla Anne Coroy