By Matt Haviland, Crosswalk.com
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV)
If we are not on guard, it doesn’t take long for any of our hearts and minds to be stolen away from God’s will for us, especially if we have been wounded by life along the way. Being a single mother or a single father may seem to amplify the “traps” listed below -- but it doesn’t have to! Even if you find yourself currently falling into one of these traps, taking your position in Christ immediately against each one is a major step towards recovery -- and redemption.
If left unattended, anger, bitterness, or resentment can and will manifest itself inside of us and eventually consume us. Remember: a wound will only become infected if it is left untreated. Being able to completely forgive and nail it to the cross is where victory begins.
2. Loss of Identity
Single parenting brings in brokenness, regardless of how we got there. We feel a loss of who we are as an individual, a parent, significant other, provider, and perhaps even as a Christian. Finding our identity in our eternal value is key.
God warned us in the Ten Commandments about the dangers of coveting, and Hebrews 12 describes how sin can so easily entangle us. Any time we are taking our eyes off of Christ and looking elsewhere, we are putting ourselves and our families in danger. Be wary of jealousy towards someone else’s life, possessions, or situation.
If not addressed early, this can lead to more serious and dangerous behaviors such as isolation, addictions, and risky actions. Reach out to someone quickly if you are feeling depressed -- men, this means us too! Catching the symptoms of depression early on can potentially save someone from deadly consequences.
5. Sexual Immorality
We’ve heard it said that loneliness can be the devil’s playground, how true we make that sometimes! Being single (and broken) in a sexually-fallen world is a major uphill struggle. The promise of “harmless” and “safe” sex is only a few pages or a click away. But be on guard of someone who does not have your heart or best interest in mind.
6. Competition with the Other Parent
Trying to out-do the other parent, keeping score against them, or being the “fun” parent all pull your eyes off of your God-given responsibilities to properly raise your children and onto your own selfishness instead. Despite what may be going on in the other home, don’t fall into this trap where the children usually become the biggest casualties.
7. Not Recognizing Your Significance
Single parenthood distorts the family structure by unfairly forcing one person to inherit the responsibilities of the other. Subsequently, a single parent can often feel inferior and ill-equipped to fill these roles. Though it may seem like a lost cause at times, know that God has given us all the ability to raise our children into healthy adults. Your children need you, press into Him and rise to the calling!
If it takes a village to raise a child, then how in the world can we expect to do so when living on an island? Stress piles up and when we are tired, the enemy can really get a foothold. Whatever it takes, don’t allow the lies and worries of life to overcome loving on your children.
9. Mismanagement of Time
All of the traps mentioned above can be summarized in this way: allowing other people, situations, and trials to distract us from giving our children their proper time. Yes, we need downtime of our own, but please never forget why we do what we do as parents: to give our children the love and attention they so desperately need from us.
10. Failure to Lead
“Leading” our children comes in a variety of ways, but it all flows from leading them in Christ. Dads, God has given us the specific task of raising our sons and daughters in Him whether we are single or not (Ephesians 6:4). And single moms, don’t worry. Paul’s protégé Timothy is a perfect example of how a believing mother can raise her child for God’s glory (Acts 16:1, 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15).
The single mother or single father who has the ability to overcome all of these traps will find it leads to healthier parent-child relationships. When accompanied with a strong walk with Christ, this leaves a legacy that can have multi-generational impact, taking what was once shattered beyond repair and turning it into a foundation that can never be broken again.
"Above all, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
Matt Haviland is the founder of “A Father’s Walk” single dad ministry, the author of “A Father’s Walk: A Christian-Based Resources for Single Fathers” and the coauthor of “The Daddy Gap”. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI and is the co-founder of the Grand Rapids Single Parenting Expo. For more information on the ministry and how to form a single dad small group in your own church, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.
Publication date: March 3, 2016