6 Vital Tips for Single Moms

As a mom, there is nothing more important than keeping our kids safe.  This world we live in is a scary place.  If you are a single mom, whether, by choice, divorce or death of a spouse, you have so many things vying for your time and attention.  It is easy to forget you are the gatekeeper of your home.   Are you unknowingly exposing your children to the risk of harm?

ID-100264803Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

In my day job, I process police reports.  I have read hundreds of reports detailing horrific things that happen when single moms forget their role as gatekeeper or guardian of their home and unknowingly endanger their child.  Being a gatekeeper means you monitor who you allow in your home and who has access to your children.  I want to share the lessons I have learned with you.

1).  Give yourself and your children time to heal after a divorce or death of a spouse.  Some experts say to wait at least a year before heading back out on the dating scene.  Take the time for counseling for yourself and your children.  Reflect on what went wrong and what went right with the relationship.  What do you want to be different next time?  For a time, just focus on your family.  Don’t even think about dating.  Pray and ask God to bring healing to your family.

2).  Do a background check on a potential boyfriend BEFORE you start dating.  There are plenty of websites that charge a small fee for this service.  If you can’t afford their fee, look for court records online.  In Washington State where I live, you can go to http://dw.courts.wa.gov.  You can search by name for court records.  Also in Washington State, you can check for conviction history with the Washinton State Patrol.  There is a small fee for this, but the results of your search are available right away.  Their website is http://watch.wsp.wa.gov.

3).  Check the Sex Offender Registry online.  You may think this step is over the top and that you would certainly recognize or have a sense of someone who meant to harm your child.  Let me assure you, you don’t.  Sex offenders come in all shapes and sizes.  You might be surprised to know that most of them look like the guy next door.  Many of them love to work where they have lots of contact with children: schools, day camps, scouting, the YMCA, and yes, even churches.  You must be diligent in protecting your children.

4).  Do not bring a new boyfriend into the lives of your children until you have been dating several months, preferably six months.  One adult child of divorce shared with me, “There was nothing worse than finding some strange man in the house.  The latest in a long line of my mom’s boyfriends.”    Not only is this situation terrifying to the child, you are teaching them that relationships are disposable.  Get to know the person before you start to date.  If you do not think this person is marriage material, then do not waste your time.

5). If your child comes to you and tells you that they are being touched inappropriately by anyone, go to the authorities!  Do not confront the person, or question your child further.  Go to the police and report it to them.  Let them do the investigating.  Block the person from all access to your child.  Go to the court and get a protection order to keep the person away.  Above all, do not make excuses for the suspected abuser or try to rationalize away their behavior.

6). Talk to your child about their bodies and their private parts.  Use age appropriate language, but make sure they know that no one is allowed to touch their private parts (the area covered by their underwear or swimsuit).  Help them to feel comfortable talking with you so that if something happens they will instinctively come to you.

My husband always says, “Being a single mom is the toughest job on the planet.”  He should know.  He watched as his mom struggled to raise three children alone after a divorce.  “Being a single mom forces a woman to wear many hats that she shouldn’t have to wear.”  God’s design for families is for a mother and father to parent their children together, each one bringing their God-given strengths to the task.  It is normal to want to have another relationship, but now that you have children, you must put their safety first.

I know some awesome single moms.  My younger sister did an amazing job raising four children on her own.  She is one of the people I admire the most in this world.  The majority of moms are on the alert all the time for any danger to their children.

If this post can help protect even one child, then it will be worth it.

Overcoming Shame and Unworthiness

I have struggled with feelings of shame and unworthiness for most of my life.  Those thoughts and feelings are rooted in childhood when my father unknowingly imprinted his own feelings of inadequacy on his children.  He never meant to do this, of course, but just as he taught us to work hard, and be honest, he also made us feel we were never good enough.  We never measured up to his expectations.  “You kids are just a burden to your mother,” he would tell us.

Dad was a frustrated perfectionist, and as children we were a great disappointment to him.  He wanted things done right and the only right way was his way.  No matter how hard we tried, we could not seem to please him.  The sad thing is that Dad was never happy with himself, either.  He couldn’t live up to his own expectations.

Maybe you had a similar experience to mine. The words may have been different, but the impact was the same on your psyche.  “You are just like your father!”  “Why can’t you be like the neighbor kids?”  “Get away from me!  I can’t stand to look at your face!”  “I wish you had never been born!”

The words were said years, maybe even decades ago, but they still haunt you.   Those tapes from childhood run through our subconscious and occasionally bubble to the surface like hot lava devastating everything in its path.

Shame and unworthiness hold you back from becoming the person that God made you to be.  They keep you from trying new things, going for that promotion, being creative, making friends and a hundred other things.  They hold you back from experiencing life in all its glorious fullness.  You’ve been locked in an emotional prison for so long.  Do you want to be set free? Of course, you do!

While I am still on my healing journey, I have 5 tips to share with you that have helped me.

1)  My healing began when I came to understand God’s love for me and accepted Christ as my Saviour.  Learning that God knew all about me and still loved me was an amazing discovery.   This step was key to my recovery.  1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

2)  Study God’s Word and memorize verses that speak of God’s great love for you.  Make a list of them.  Read it to yourself every day to replace those childhood tapes in your head.  Tape it to your mirror so you can read it each morning.  Start with John 3:16, 1 John 4:10, Psalm 48:9 and 1 John 3:1.

3)  Don’t be afraid to seek Christian counseling to deal with your painful past.  I have found great insight in counseling.  Call your local church for a recommendation.

4)  Your healing is a journey.  It will take time, months, years, maybe your lifetime.  It is hard work, but it is worth it.  You owe it to yourself, and if you have children, you owe it to them.  Shame and unworthiness are not the legacies you want to leave to your children. With Christ, you can break the cycle.

5)  When those painful thoughts from your past pop into your head (and they will), kick them to the curb!  Don’t allow shame or unworthiness any foothold in your mind.  Recite verses, turn on some worship music, pray!  I have found that when I am praising God, those hurtful memories fade away.

My father passed away in 2012.  I still miss him today.  Once I became a Christian, God gave me such a  love for my dad.  He helped me to see my dad as a wounded human being who did the best he could for his family.  He made mistakes, but he was my dad and I love him.  We spent a lot of time together in his later years, and I cherish every moment I had with him.  I only wish that he had been able to understand God’s love and grace and the peace that it brings.   I can’t wait to get to heaven where my dad and I will finally have the relationship that God always wanted us to have.

I am linking up this week with Grace & Truth and Coffee for Your Heart and Faith ‘n Friends.

5 Truths About the Cost of Divorce

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You are in a hard place in your marriage. Time and again you have tried to work things out with your spouse. You are so tired of it all. Wouldn’t divorce be an easy solution? Wouldn’t it be better for the kids if my spouse and I weren’t arguing all the time? The kids would be better off if we divorced, since mom and dad would be happier, right?  Hmm. Let’s take a look at some facts about divorce.

1) The truth is divorce will cost you much more than the dollars you pay your attorney or the fees to file your paperwork in court.

The income of the custodial parent drops drastically and long term research has found that children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty.

If you were married for a long time, your ex-spouse may qualify for spousal support and a percentage of your retirement and social security.

2) The truth is children suffer tremendous emotional trauma when their parents divorce. This trauma can effect them far into adulthood.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know this from experience. Oh, not mine. My dear, sweet, gentle husband still struggles at times with anger over his father’s abandonment of the family and the resulting physical and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother.

His parents are both gone now, and with God’s help he has forgiven them and let the anger go. However, at times he is ambushed by overwhelming anger, triggered by a memory or some minor event, and he suffers greatly. This type of emotional pain is common with children of divorce.

“Children never get over divorce. It is a great loss that is in their lives forever. It is like a grief that is never over. All special events, such as holidays, plays, sports, graduations, marriages, births of children, etc., bring up the loss created by divorce as well as the family relationship conflicts that result from the ‘extended family’ celebrating any event.” Stephen Earrl

3) The truth is that children of divorce are forced to grow up before they should. The most important core relationship in their life has been rent asunder, and many times the children of divorce are left to sort things out for themselves. They often blame themselves for the divorce.

My husband says, “A divorce involving children is analogous to throwing a stone into the middle of a pond…those concentric rings, the ramifications of that one decision, reach out years and even decades.”

4) The truth is that children of divorce often have difficulties in gaining and maintaining close relationships.

Many adult children of divorce make poor choices in relationships, or give up quickly when problems arises. Some are reluctant to spend emotional capital and risk being hurt again. The victims of divorce grow exponentially through the years from family member to family member.

5) The truth is that once the diminished paychecks and standard of living become the norm, and the loneliness and difficulty of parenting children alone sets in, many wish they had tried harder in their marriage.

Some divorced couples eventually remarry one another. For those that marry the second time to a different spouse, they often find they have the same issues in their second marriage that they had in the first. The divorce rate for second marriages is higher than for first marriages.

“Scientific literature suggests that a good three quarters of people who divorce regret it.” Dr. Laura

The great news is that there are so many marriage resources available to help you.

Put God at the center of your marriage. Ask Him to help you love your spouse. Try to find and praise the good qualities your see in your mate. Your local church and pastor are great resources and eager to help you. Many local churches host Bible Studies on marriage and family life or Couple Retreats. Several wonderful organizations that promote and foster marriage are: Focus on the Family, National Institute of Marriage, Marriage Today with Pastor Jimmy Evans and Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey. These are just a few I respect and admire. Check with your health care insurance or your employer as they may provide for much needed counseling.

Remember, many people have stood where you stand today. It is difficult, but with God’s help your marriage can be saved and become a marriage that lasts a lifetime.

This post is not intended as a condemnation for anyone who is divorced. It is solely intended to present the truth about divorce and the lifelong effects on the children of divorce as a cautionary warning to those considering divorce.

If you or your children are in physical danger in your marriage, your must remove them and yourself to a safe place immediately!  Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or contact your local police department.  Your first priority if you are a parent is your children’s safety.  First, get yourself and your children to a safe place.  Then, if you choose to work on your marriage you can do so with help and support from advocates who are familiar with your problems.  NEVER allow your child or yourself to be physically abused.

EMERGENCY ALERT of the S.E.A. Network

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We interrupt your program to bring you an update on an emergency alert for the Western Washington S.E.A. Network.

Be advised that within moments of this alert, two emergency responders were on their way to the residence in question.  Upon their arrival, they found the situation as described in the alert, but report that no accidents or injuries had occurred prior to their arrival.

All S.E.A. units may stand down at this time.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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Caring for elderly loved ones is stressful.  Finding a bit of humor amidst the stress and strain is a blessing and a great way to relieve tension. An actual alert did go out on Saturday regarding a concern over my mom, and as stated above, within minutes two of my sister’s were on their way to her house to check on her.  This alert network was formed years ago, when my father was in his 90’s and his health began to fail.  My sister’s and I began to notify one another of situations where we felt our parents might need help.  We jokingly called it the Sister Emergency Alert (S.E.A.) Network.  It may sound silly, but it really was and is an important means of communication between us in regards to our parent’s safety and well-being.

sisters The original members of the network in their younger years.

With advances in technology, the Sister Emergency Alert Network is now more effective than ever.  If one of us sees a problem, or a need arises, the alert goes out to all sisters.  Thankfully, there are six of us, so the burden for caring for dad, and now our mom, is shared and no one person gets overwhelmed.  It takes all of us to keep an eye on things and make sure that mom is safe.   I am blessed to have sisters who are all willing to answer the call day or night when the Sister Emergency Alert Network is activated.  Shazam!

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 The members and their mom in a more recent photo (one sister was not in attendance).

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

If you are a caregiver, make sure you have family or friends who support and encourage you.  If you don’t have family nearby, there are many support groups for caregivers.  Check with your local County Human Services Department for contact information for these groups.  Create your own support network with friends, neighbors and church family.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

God will bless you for honoring your loved ones and caring for them.

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