Chances are, one of your sons, a nephew or someone you mentor is a single father. Perhaps they are, because of sinful, stupid choices they made, or their former spouse or girlfriend made. But, however they got to be single fathers, the only true victims are the children. 43% of children in the U.S. are without a father in the home. (U.S. Dept. of Census)
The purpose of this blog isn’t to rail against the statistics, but to provide you with something to say to the single dad in your life that can significantly improve their children’s chances of growing up to be more spiritual and responsible adults. And surprisingly, it’s encouraging them to be more respectful of their mother. The rest of this blog, with some minor edits and additions, was written by a good friend of mine, Matt Haviland. He’s a single father and the founder of, A Father’s Walk, a ministry to single fathers. (http://afatherswalk.wix.com/a-fathers-walk). Listen to this guy!
I have to say, this has been a great spring! One of the highlights has been watching my daughter play her first year of softball. Although she and I have played whiffle ball plenty of times at the park, I completely underestimated her skills (a little Daddy bias here). She has also been involved in dance for the past six years.
This week we had a unique situation: she had a softball game on the same night she had dance practice. As I was dropping her off earlier in the week, she told me that she wanted to play in the softball game, but that her mom wanted her to go to dance class.
For those who know us, it is no secret that her mom and I aren’t exactly on each other’s Christmas lists and it would have been easy for me to allow my personal feelings to rise up and make demeaning comments such as, “Yeah, she’s like that sometimes” or “You should tell her you don’t want to go to dance”. Instead I looked my daughter straight in the eyes and I said to her, “Promise me no matter what mommy says, you won’t argue with her. She’s your mom and you need to respect her decision.” She agreed.
Single parenting is naturally a flawed system. God created the family with both a mother and a father and when one parent is removed from the equation for whatever reason, it throws everything else into unbalance. Dads, whether you are married, have re-married, have full custody of your children, or every other weekend, one of the greatest lessons we can teach our kids is to honor their mother. You may not be on the best of terms with her, but that does not excuse you from your role, as your children’s spiritual leader. Watch what you say about their mom around them, keep your emotions in check, and please model the behavior you would want your children to show you in return.
When we do these things, we are teaching our sons to respect women and our daughters, that women are worthy to be honored by men. Someday, when they date and get married, you will want your sons to treat women with respect. And the best way to teach that, is to model that.
So, here are a few quick tips:
Never slam Mom with the kids around, but look for opportunities to build her up in front of them instead. You may have to dig deep, but praise as many of her accomplishments or character qualities as you can.
Help the kids do fun activities such as make her a card or present for Mother’s Day, Christmas, or her birthday.
When you and your children pray, be sure to include Mommy in those prayers too and let them hear it a respectful tone in your voice.
Speak respectfully to her and about her to family and friends, or say nothing at all, when your kids are around.
Do not allow your children to speak disrespectfully about your ex, or be disrespectful to her.
Let your children hear you saying complimentary things to your ex, or about her to others.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4
Clare’s story below Guys, I can almost hear you say, “But you can’t believe the ways my “ex” poisons my children against me!” If that’s true, this story is for you.
I once mentored a college student, whose parents had separated and whose mother constantly tore down her husband. But, this young man really loved and respected his father, so I asked him why.
“When we were little, we believed what my mom said about my father. But as we grew, we noticed that my father wasn’t anything like my mother described him. He was kind, gentle and respectful, even of my mother and her new husband, who was a jerk. To this day, all of us kids love and respect our father and some day I hope to be like him.”
Clarence B. Kelland said, “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
When we teach our children to “Honor thy mother” we in turn are honoring our heavenly Father. Dads, are you currently teaching your children to honor their mother?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Matt Haviland, Author of A Father’s Walk: A Christian-Based Resource for Single Fathers.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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