The Solo Parent Society podcast is hosted by author and founder Robert Beeson to help single parents raise healthy kids, and grow themselves through conversations with other parents who have walked, or are still walking the 'Solo Parent' path. Plus experts on the things that Solo Parents face the most. The mission of Solo Parent Society is to provide the resources, community, and support that enables a single-parent to discover whole-heart wellness so that their family can thrive.
As a single parent, sometimes we can feel like there's a wall between us and God because we believe we've failed and are a disappointment, so we see ourselves as unworthy. For some of us that have lost our spouse to death we may feel angry for God letting this happen. These things can lead to comparing ourselves to other people that seem to have it all together spiritually or otherwise.
Here is the good news, knowing God's love can actually be more intimate during this solo season than in any other season, and it is the basis for everything we try to be about at Solo Parent Society.
Here are the 3 areas of focus that we employ at SPS that help us encounter God's love.
Confession is expressing the good and bad - The doubts and praise. Ultimately it is about expressing with our mouths (or writing it down) our completely transparent and honest feelings. A few questions that might be helpful:
How do you feel when you think about coming into God's presence?
What do you think he may be disappointed in?
If you were to name a feeling that my be creating a wall what would that feeling be?
The goal is to authentically be known in our most intimate state by God and at least one person and/ or a journal.
This is where we search out truth about what we have confessed. This could be as simple as a google search - "What does the bible say about anger/shame/doubt/ fear?" This step must take place AFTER we have transparently confessed what might be causing a wall between us and God. Whatever the wall is search scriptures about what God says about that.
Study what God promises to take care of and find evidence of His faithfulness in our lives. Write those promises down and post them on the wall - Example Isaiah 54:4-5.
Taking what we have uncovered in our heart - Confession - and what we discover in our head - Absolutes - now we need to incorporate into a life style.
One way is a remembering exercise.
Step 1. Remember
Practice remembrance by taking the time to list all of the ways God has worked in your life. Here are some helpful categories to write out some experiences:
Teen years (middle and high school)
Early adulthood (18-25 years old)
Adulthood (25+ age)
Other areas like in motherhood/fatherhood, marriage, etc.
Step 2. Recognition
Practice recognizing all the small ways God works in your life every day. This is a daily practice of gratitude. For example, each day write down three things for which you are grateful. Try to not repeat yourself. Write down new things or new ways to express gratitude even about a recurring blessing. You will likely have to get creative, which can cause you to be more aware of where and how God is at work in your life.
Step 3. Repetition
Continually repeat these practices. This isn't a one-and-done. Go back to your lists and add to them. Ask God to reveal the ways He is at work around you so you don't miss anything. Our busy lives can often distract us from what is most important. The old adage "Count your blessings" may seem trite or cheesy, but in the Solo season, this attitude can be strategic in your growth and healing.
God's Love is personal and intimate. The obstacles or disappointments we believe create a wall between us and God are often the very things that create an opportunity to discover a more intimate relationship with Him. God doesn't love me for what I do for Him, He just loves me, even when I do nothing at all... that is wild, wild stuff!
It can be overwhelming... conflicting, complicated and all consuming.
Conflicting - Exciting and terrifying
Complicated - We are not just making decisions for ourselves, it effects my kids... potentially my ex.
All consuming - Making room to do this means I am sacrificing another area and I am already spread thin.
NOT TO MENTION finding a mate /or not is probably the biggest decision we will have to make.
3 elements to factor in as we consider dating again.
1. Identify where I am - self awareness
Name you fears, it brings freedom - with awareness brings healing
Name your feeling - its ok to be excited as much as afraid
Who am I - am I someone that someone would want to date?
What work do I still need to do?
What are scars - Replace the word 'baggage' with 'bonus'
What are hopes?
Give lots of grace - see this is not a one shot chance
2. Define what you are looking for, what we need and where you want to go
First of all when thinking about this don't envision a specific person.
Create a check list - Write down what's important related to
Family - existing and or future
How they treat people
How they treat their kids
Why do I want to be remarried?
What did you love about your last relationship
What are non negotiable
Pray - God, what am I missing?
3. Create Plan - Patience or proceed
Patience is self explanatory - and remember it is a season - you will not stay 'in the waiting'... expand your friend group circle so loneliness doesn't compromise the waiting.
Proceeding Check list
Pray - submit the conversations
If using a dating app
-Use caution - don't put to much out there
-Be completely honest
-Meet at public place
-Don't let them in your house
-Be true to you
-Don't move too quickly - Especially physically - Casual sex is anything but casual. It comes with burdens, shame and complicates healing and can create emotional confusion.
-How quick you introduce to kids - protecting kids from getting to attached
-Be open to new
Remember, to date or not to date is one of the most important decision we will face as a single parent and it deserves a carefully thought out position, and tons of prayer.
We all want to love our kids well. Loving them while we are in a position of feeling broken and vulnerable can create problems - blind-spots. Sometimes we tend to spoil them, shielding them from life's natural consequences because they have already had so much trauma. Or we can be triggered by seeing our ex in their behavior and inadvertently withdraw. Coming out of a relationship that leaves us with scars can leave us with blind-spots related to how we see and give healthy love to our family.
Ultimately, we should parent our kids as God parents us. God parents us by investing in long term character over short term gratification.
Even with all good intentions, we can develop blind-spots in 3 primary areas.
Making sure our kids have the latest and greatest.
-Not giving consequences
Not holding them accountable for their behavior or choices.
-Crossing emotional boundaries
We can become either become dependent or the opposite we withdraw.
Not addressing any and/or all of these blind-spots can create long term ramifications for our kids. ( Narcissism, entitlement, or failure to adapt are examples of the mindsets that our kids will take into their future relationships, both personal or professional.)
In general, a good question to ask ourselves when we are facing any situation with our kids is a self-assessment - "Am I trying to make my child happy, or am I trying to do what's best for my child?"
As single parents, we have so much other drama in so many areas of our lives, it is natural not to want to create more tension with our kids. Nevertheless, it is essential to address these blind-spots to create the most potential of our child's future successful relationships.
Changing the way we look at things. God doesn't give us everything we want. He is more interested in developing our character, which sometimes is hard. We need to continually self assess what our motivation is - are trying to make them happy or build character. We need to remind ourselves that 'withholding' their temporary relief or pleasure is a form of love.
-Not giving consequences
Overlooking behavior or making excuses for behavior might alleviate momentary discomfort, but it can create long term ramifications. What we permit now will grow. We need to be very clear about Ground rules and expectations (often in writing), and then be consistent and be willing to escalate consequences. That is equipping our kids to know that is how the world works. If we fall short, don't give up... get back up and keep trying. Also, expect to be tested with harder and harder resistance... It actually means you are doing things right.
-Crossing emotional boundaries
It makes sense that our kids are the safest place to invest our emotions... or that things they do can trigger memories of our ex's behaviors. We need to remind ourselves that these are human beings that need to see healthy love modeled. We are not in equal emotional places. So we need to seek outside adult friendships to process through the tough stuff and feel the intimate care of others. If we are prone to withdraw, schedule time to just being present. Go to where they are and what interests them, and just be there with them.
As single parents, it is natural to have blind-spots that looks a lot like love. We need to parent like God parents - paying attention to what is being build rather than immediate happiness. Being brave enough to disappoint - and always parent from a position of love, not fear or immediate gratification. REMEMBER, we were chosen to guide and mold the humans entrusted to us.
Some of us think that self love is only self serving. An incorrect belief that in order to parent well, our kid's needs come before our needs, and often we over compensate. The problem is, we can't give what we don't have. Often we spend so much time focusing on other people we don't spend enough time loving and caring for ourselves.
Self Love if often viewed as a reward or a special treat we give to ourselves... but it goes far beyond that. Love is an activity not a quality. Loving yourself requires more than just a mindset, it requires action.
3 keys to practicing self love can be broken into the following steps.
1. Mindset Reset
We have to start resetting how we view self love. Understanding that loving ourselves well brings value to how we love our kids. Self love = loving our kids
It requires committing to making this a priority
Give grace, not putting so much pressure on ourselves - be patient - a mind reset wont happen overnight
- Right notes on bathroom mirror - reminding of who we are / our identity - Psalm 139
- Verbalize - say it out loud - say it till you believe - examples "I am worth taking care of, I am not my mistakes, I am not my past, I will live into my best days still ahead of me, God chose me to parent these kids - He will equip me."
- Write down an inventory of what we have accomplished by ourselves
Above all - Give grace - metamorphosis takes time
Often we overcompensate for the hurt our kids have been through and let our boundaries down. Focus on establishing simple boundaries that provide margin to our lives.
With our kids -
Don't take every phone call - let them know every question they may have is important - but there is a difference between important vs immediate - Have them start to discern if the question they have is urgent and requires an immediate answer or if maybe they could text vs phone call or even write things down to bring up later.
Create Space - be deliberate in carving out alone time. Let them know that everyone has a need for space and teach / model what that looks like next time you are asked "can I sleep in your bed".
With our Ex / Family / Friends
Get out of volatile conversations. Ask for schedule changes etc. to be put in writing.
Express appreciation to our ex or family members for wrestling with trying to do the right thing. Deescalate.
Don't say yes to every opportunity. Protect your time and remember saying 'yes' to something means saying 'no' to something else.
Prioritize time with 'life giving' relationships
3. Fill your cup
Do things that bring you joy
Cooking, Gardening, Painting, Reading
Try something new - allow yourself to pursue something exciting.
Don't be afraid to ask for help create space - trade time with other single parents.
Do things that you can complete, even as simple as making the bed.
Remember: Self love is not selfish. If we don't do it for us, do it for our kids because we cant give what we don't have. When I enrich my own life, I'll be life-giving to others too.
Join us on Facebook - Facebook.com/SoloParentSociety - You are not alone!
As single parents, sometimes our schedules and all the tactical things we have to get done can eat up our time and suddenly we find that we don't have time for God. We can get disconnected from a sense of spiritual balance and lose our sense of belonging. Often, we may not feel connected to anything, which can make us isolate even more.
There are many things that can create a disconnection from God. Sometimes we go to other people or things for our security and connection point. We can create idols without even realizing it. Sometimes we feel forgotten, broken and end up feeling nothing. We can feel so damaged that we wonder so why would anyone want us and that we are a disappointment to God. So we wonder where we do we even fit anymore.
So how do we get back to the place of finding true spiritual balance or alignment - for some of us maybe for the first time.
Spiritual balance isn't just about memorizing Bible verses. It's about true connection. This comes from embracing two components:
Spiritual identity is working toward connection based on whose we are. It's operating from our actual identities instead of the false identities we tend to create.
Before we became physical beings, we were actually spiritual beings. We're a soul with a temporary body. As we grow up, the we take on new identities based on how the world sees us. An identity built from shame, burden, performance, family, career, etc. All of these physical and emotional things can become our identities. They cover up the real "you" - who God created us to be.
We start letting the physical and emotional things become our identities, but they aren't healthy identities.
When those things are taken away, it's extremely uncomfortable. We don't know who we are anymore. But God wants us like this - He wants us dependent on Him instead of those other things. Those things aren't as important as we think they are. Those things being taken away can be the most important thing to ever happen to us. The reason for that is God wants us to know His love is based on who we are, not what we do. We are deeply loved daughters and sons.
This is our true identity.
Keeping your true identity front and center can be difficult. Some ways to do this are:
Writing affirmations or reminders of who we are and posting them around the house and office. Or just speaking the truth out loud. These can combat the lies that are always flying around.
Once we are more in tune with who we are, we can begin to open ourselves up for Spiritual Connection. But we have to create intentional space to do this - schedule your priorities.
Once we create space in our schedules, it's important to learn the ways we connect.
Connection can happen in journaling as a prayer to God and being completely vulnerable with Him. Another is through worship music. Meditation, visualization and being still can also help us connect in a deep way.
If you're just starting off and need to take a first step, start by being more still. Lean in and ask God to show you what He's trying to teach you in this time of growth and learning. God is glorified in your weakness and He will make all things perfect. Focus on getting to the core of your spiritual identity and then find intimate connection.
With all the demands of raising kids on our own with less than optimal resources, money and time it is VERY easy to become mentally overwhelmed. To work towards emotional / mental balance it is important to identify two categories to focus on.
* Things we have control over
* Things we don't have control over
When we face unpleasant situations it is natural to react with anger, worry, fear, anxiety etc. Finding emotional balance helps us to attain flexibility and promotes stabilization between our mind and body. In other words, emotional balance teaches us how to respond to negative emotions and thoughts without just getting stuck in them.
The most important component to mental or emotional health we have complete control over - our perspective. Defining the correct perspective dictates our quality of life and is the root what we model for our kids, of how we communicate and experience every encounter and thought
It starts and ends with this - God is in control - nothing has caught him off guard. We are constantly surprised - He is never. And He can be trusted with wellbeing and our ability to face anything we are facing.
That being, there are things we can do that will bring balance to our emotional / mental state. First, let's identify things that we do have control over. They might be mundane things like - feeding the kids, being fully present, showing up to work, how I speak to my ex , finding community, pausing / meditation and then there are the more internal things like choosing the right perspective, being grateful, giving ourselves grace or pursuing humor.
A recent healthline article offers some different approaches."The less-dominant side of your brain is the area that controls feelings of self-confidence and optimism. When you think about something other than your daily worries, you increase activity in the neural structures of that area of your brain.
Reading - Beyond the mechanics, reading helps you visualize the subject matter on the pages before you, and imagine what voices sound like in the written dialogue. it can stoke the imagination and ignite so many different parts of the brain.
Be positive with yourself Positive affirmation is one avenue to increased mental proficiency.
Play games - Games that test reasoning and other portions of your brain are fun ways to keep your mind sharp. (Even video games)"
Now let's tackle the harder side of mental balance - things we have no control over: That might be our ex's behavior, the complexities of day to day, unexpected issues - kids being sick, people's perception of what caused the divorce or how we are parenting.
Here is what Psychology Today says this about facing things beyond our control. "When you find yourself worrying, take a minute to examine the things you have control over. You can't prevent a storm from coming, but you can prepare for it. You can't control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you react. Recognize that, sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you'll be much more effective."
We have found these questions helpful. When facing things that we may have little or NO control over ask yourself:
What am I actually feeling? anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, or surprise
What can I learn? Prayer - God, what are you teaching me?
Whats the next right thing / response?
What am I grateful for?