Effective parenting begins from a position of wholeness and godly self-esteem. For the single mother, this combination is absolutely essential for her to raise responsible, healthy, and whole children. It is difficult to teach your children to have high self-esteem when you are broken and don't even realize it. Parental brokenness manifests itself in a variety of ways.
Parenting by Default Not Purpose
As a single mom, I have energy, resource, and time constraints. I have discovered the reason why it was so challenging to consistently implement godly parenting principles was because I never knew I needed to be grounded in the love of God for myself before marrying and having children. Thus, true foundational self-esteem rooted in God was never fully formed in me. This is important as it relates to parenting because if a woman’s deepest emotional needs for validation, completeness, and wholeness are not met in Christ, she will continually look outside of herself for these things. Because of her brokenness, it is difficult for her to model true, authentic, and healthy self-esteem in front of her children on a consistent basis.
When my children began to grow, I only had two main parenting styles: 1) The Old School “I- brought-you-into-this-world-and-I-will-take-you-out” style in order to maintain order obedience, and to survive or; 2) The Hovering Helicopter style, which consists of overprotecting, nagging, reminding and scolding because I didn’t have the time, resources, and inner strength to carefully think through, trust, strategize and seek the Lord. Functioning in this fashion always takes its toll on a woman and further exacerbates the brokenness. In the short term, both styles work when children are young, but as they grow and began to enter late childhood and early puberty these methods become less effective. The mother then finds herself with very little left in her parenting toolbox except trying to control or protect them. It results in more stress for the mother and results in children with low self-esteem who make poor life choices because the mother did all the thinking and decision making for them.
According to Foster Cline and Jim Fay in Parenting With Love & Logic, “Too many parents confuse love, protection & caring…they overcompensate with worry and hyper-concern (nagging, reminding, too) instead of letting kids fail. What these parents are doing, in reality is meeting their own selfish needs. They make more work for themselves and will, in the long run, raise children who make their own lives more work. The problem is, rescuing parents often rescue out of their own needs. They like to heal hurts. They are parents who need to be needed, not parents who want to be wanted…”
To properly parent, a single mom must learn to love and respect herself. This means to know herself, to get grounded in God’s love and to understand how His love works. God loves us deeply. But he doesn’t stop us if we choose to jump off a cliff, have premarital sex, and make other bad choices. He lets us feel the full impact of the consequences of our choice. He uses our mistakes to help us grow in faith and maturity. We do our children a disservice when we fail to love them as God loves us. When we are grounded in God’s love we can parent as He does from a place of strength and love, not needing to be needed and not trying to control everything the kids do because of not knowing what else to do to protect them. We can allow life situations to provide learning opportunities so that they grow up responsible and able to make wise choices when we are not around. Broken mothers want these results but cannot do this consistently and effectively.
Parenting While Chasing To Get Needs Met
When a parent has unresolved brokenness running in the background of her life it manifests itself in the motives behind her relational and social choices. Oftentimes, a woman can be thoroughly convinced that her motives are good on the surface, but if the truth be told, these activities and relationships are driven from unmet needs that run contrary to solid parenting.
Motive 1: Ministry Works
We are to use our gifts and talents to build God’s kingdom. God gave us our talents, gifts, and abilities to be productive and to fulfill our purpose in His Kingdom. However, when we fail to look to God to meet our needs for validation, acceptance and approval, without realizing it, we find ourselves using our good works as a vehicle to receive attention, to be seen, and to be validated. We show up every time the church doors open. We show up to every activity and committee meeting. We come back home all excited and the house is a mess, there is chaos and disorder and the kids are running wild. We are godly women out saving the world, yet our homes are going to hell. Using ministry works to get an emotional need met does not glorify God nor does it help our children. We must continually pray and seek God’s help to maintain order and balance in ministry and family.
Motive 2: I Need a Man...For Attention/ To Be A Father Figure / To Go to Church With
A young woman, without a fundamental knowledge of her worth and value in Christ, can easily get caught up in romantic drama relationships starting in her teenage years. Once that first relationship fails, she will continually seek the initial high of that first infatuation. She has no clue about who she is in God and is only driven by emotions and flesh. This is the beginning of insecure or anxious love in a woman. This is evidenced by mothers who have a hard enough time managing house/job/kids but still trying to date, spending a lot of time texting, on the phone, online, fantasizing, anxiously worrying about what a man wants/thinks/feels, and obsessing over every text/call/conversation. It is possible for a woman to spend way more mental and emotional energy over a man than she does for her children. Her whole emotional world can revolve around whether or not she gets a certain level of attention from a man. Again, this does not glorify God and hinders godly parenting.
Broken mothers also get involved in romantic relationships too quickly before developing personal wholeness because of an overwhelming desire to have some semblance of a "father figure" or “male role model” in front of children. It is difficult to go to church Sunday after Sunday alone. They have a deep desire to have a husband to go to church with, to lead the family and to serve God together. These desires are normal and natural, but if not held in check under God’s timing and way, it can create many problems. If mom is not whole, most of her energy will be put into developing this relationship instead of developing personal wholeness in Christ or parenting her children. If the relationship ends in disappointment, she is back where she started from, even more broken then before because she delayed her healing process by getting prematurely involved.
This could be a significant issue if a mother spends more time reading every book on how to get married, how to be a wife, how men think, praying for her “Boaz” than praying or reading on how to parent her children. How much prayer time is spent on interceding for the children’s needs and issues? How much of prayer is spent asking God to reveal our children’s purpose/destiny/passion/gifts at an early age? How much prayer is spent on the list of requirements for the future husband? How much prayer and emotional equity are we investing in the current new hot marriage prospect?
Jesus took on a dishonorable death so that we could live honorable, holy (whole) complete and abundant lives. Our deepest emotional, psychological and spiritual needs were met by Christ on the Cross and our resultant failures to fully appropriate His shed blood over our emotions and brokenness cause us to chase in the wilderness for something that had already been taken care of. We suffer and, in the long run, our children suffer. Woman of God, never be in a rush to get married, raise children, or do good works without take the time to become deeply rooted in Christ. Learn to receive and walk in his love so that you can function fully in all areas of your life including parenting from place of wholeness and purpose.