Parenting is both tremendously challenging and tremendously rewarding. Few of us realized, when we began the parental journey, just how difficult the task would prove to be, or how many nights would pass in sleepless prayerful concern over our offspring.
Today, we have a multitude of books, videos, and other resources available on the topic of parenting. Yet, none of them can fully prepare us for the task, because every child and every situation is so unique…so wonderfully and beautifully unique as each individual child’s personality….yet so frustratingly and elusively unique as the specific individual situations that never quite fit the illustrations in the books on parenting, and leave us grasping for answers.
Single parenting and step parenting come with their own special circumstances and challenges. I wouldn’t say it’s harder, because parenting in general is a tough job, and each child tends to challenge each parent in unique ways.
However, we often tend to operate under a general assumption that single parents and step parents have the deck stacked against us from the start, so to speak. We tend to assume that children raised in environments other than the traditional family unit are going to be more difficult to raise, will have some essential environmental ingredient missing, and are less likely to grow up to be mature adults with a godly positive influence on the world around them.
We even have special names for these environments such as broken home, blended family, divorced parents, or even dysfunctional family, which seem, at times, designed to discourage us and to condem our children to some lesser future than other children.
For those of us who have been raised in Christian homes, we have often heard sermons preached in church about the importance of the family unit in a child’s formative years. We hear statistics quoted as to how much the odds are improved of a child maturing into a responsible godly adult if he or she is raised in a traditional family unit by a Christian mother and father.
These sermons are not bad, nor would I say that they are wrong or incorrect. I have never personally studied the statistical evidence, and it is not my intent to challenge the evidence in this post. The intent of such sermons is to encourage parents to stay together, to stay committed to their marriage, to stay committed to working together in raising their children. These are, generally speaking, good things that are worth encouraging, and positive influences in a child’s life.
But where does that leave those of us who do not have that luxury? What about all of us Christian parents doing our best to raise children in single-parenting, step-parenting, multi-household situations? We’re certainly aware of the extra challenges presented by each of our unique situations. But listening to these sermons and Sunday school lessons intended to encourage, it is sometimes pretty hard not to get discouraged – to start feeling like we’re fighting a losing battle with no way to win.
So, for my next few posts, I want to focus on specific examples of children who were raised in difficult situations, not fitting the traditional family unit, yet who matured to become adults who were used of God in mighty ways.
Yes, your specific parental situation does offer unique challenges. However, that does not mean it is a losing battle, and with God’s involvement, it can become a tremendous positive influence in your child’s life. God seems to derive great joy from shining His glory thru the life of an individual raised in difficult circumstances!
So, here’s the deal. Leave a comment on this post with a brief description (names and details not required) of a frustrating parenting situation that you or someone you know has dealt with or is dealing with. I’m not going to give you answers or solutions (I’m not qualified, frankly), but I will pray for you, that God will give you wisdom, strength, and patience, and that He will shine the light of His glory through your children in the years to come.
Then, for the next few posts, I will tell you about other people who were raised in very difficult, non-traditional situations, and who were mightily used of God as adults.