Recently, Jennifer Aniston set off a debate when she was promoting her new movie. Basically, she said women don’t need men to have children, that they are capable of doing it on their own. I’m not going to criticize her remarks, but it did get me thinking about the role and importance of a father especially if you are a single mother. The father of my daughter and I definitely have weathered some storms. There were arguments, tears, and regrets, but the one thing we wholeheartedly agreed on is how much we love our daughter and how crucial it is for her to have two active parents in her life. It wasn’t our daughter’s fault that mom and dad was unable to make it work, but it was our responsibility to make her childhood as fulfilling as we could make it under the circumstances.
One of the most difficult aspects of single motherhood is creating a new functional relationship with the man you are no longer with, but I promise you by creating a new relationship you are giving your children a gift. Dads are invaluable in a child’s life. One of the epidemics in today’s society is the absentee father and I think as a society we are seeing the consequences in our children. There are circumstances such as death, abuse, a father who refuses to acknowledge their children, or unfortunately even jail that don’t permit a child to have a relationship with their father. In that case I urge single mothers to seek males that are strong role models, whether it is grandfathers, uncles, friends, or youth pastors to be a presence in their child’s life. However, if a father is around and you aren’t with him, I want to encourage you to make every effort to have them as a strong force in their life.
Divorce and separation are ugly and no one feels the pain more than a child. In my article “Become the Peacemaker,” I discussed that is it our responsibility to be the peacemaker, because that is what God tells us to do. If we are going to say we are Christians yet can’t show love towards the father of our children, we are setting a bad example for our kids.
Ways for Single Moms to Create a Working Relationship with the Father of their Children
If you don’t respect him, neither will your children. Mothers have the power to set a tone. If you set the tone of respect your children will follow suit. If your kids witness you bad mouthing him, rolling your eyes when you see him, or not even being able to say hello, they’ll sense ill will and it becomes contagious. Children will try to pit moms and dads against one another this is when you must take a united front if not you will experience the consequences in the future. Respect the father of your children and in return most likely he will respect you.
Stick to a Fair Schedule
The scheduling part was one of my biggest challenges. Once we did develop a fair schedule, most of our disagreements disappeared. Sit down and have a discussion on visitation. If you went through the court system than you probably have a set schedule. Try to stick to that schedule for the sake of everyone. Kids need stability and so do you!
Invite him to Important Events
Birthday, soccer games, dance recitals, and all those events that create memories for your family should be shared together regardless of the situation. Sure, it may be uncomfortable, depending on the status of your relationship, but it is important to your kids. This is when you have to be the grown up and suck it up. You are part of one another’s life through your children and should be there for the important moments.
Remember forgiveness is more for you than the other person. If you are holding onto resentment, hurt, and anger pray for an attitude of forgiveness. You are bonded for the rest of your lives, hopefully that is a long time, long enough that you don’t want to carry around anger. Once you forgive you’ll find it easier to communicate and work together as parents.
If communication was difficult when you were together it probably won’t be easier when you are separated. Communication is key to the happiness of your children. If you can’t get a sentence out without a shouting match, GO TO COUNSELING. Do not raise your children in a turbulent environment, it isn’t fair to them. Again this is a bad example for them, and chances are this is how they’ll communicate with their partners if this is what they experience now.
It isn’t easy and no one is expecting everything to be peaches and cream after all there is a reason you aren’t together. But, remember children need their dad. He is the other cornerstone in their life. Take the initiative to have a healthy relationship with him. Say kind things about him, let your kids know that mom and dad don’t hate one another and they mean the world to both of you.
When people see us all together they often look puzzled because of our friendly relationship. But, what makes me happiest is when I see the smile on her face when we both take her to her first day of school, or when we are both beaming proudly when she has her ballet recital. What matters most is she knows she is loved by mom and dad and that dad is there even if he isn’t with mom.
Copyright © Chere Williams, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved