Jesus Loves the Little Children

I sure enjoy seeing parents who have a strong bond even though they have decided to part ways for one reason or another but have still maintained a friendship to where they can co-parent their children together in unity.  It seems that this is very rare, but how great would it be to still be on the same page with the person who fathers or mothers your children?

Whether we have a great relationship with our children's parent or not, we can rest in the fact that these children are lent to us for a short time, but are in actuality, God's children.  God knew them before they were born.  God knows who they will grow up to be.  We are never parenting alone and we can only do what we can do.  Yes, stand in as a voice for your child to ensure safety and well-being, but we cannot take the responsibility of others and what they do or say to our children.  If we have done everything we can on our end, it is in that moment that all we can do is to continue to lift our children up to God and pray for protection and guidance of the individuals who influence them.

I choose to be the solid foundation that my son knows he can come back to when feelings are hurt, or he goes through tough times with his father.  Without badmouthing his father, I can simply love and uplift him in Christ.  I can teach him to find his worth in Christ alone. 

Pray for the other parent and try to show them Jesus in every situation while also keeping your child's best interest in the forefront of your decisions. You have been given an amazing yet difficult opportunity as a parent.  I applaud you for not taking that responsibility lightly.

He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them,  "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

Mark 9:36-37

Changing Regret to Reward

My dad is one of my heroes and I am definitely a "Daddy's Girl".  One of the biggest regrets in my life is that I never finished college like my dad.  I had high hopes in high school of attending Michigan State University like my father and carrying on the legacy of alumni into my own family.  I never made it to an out of state school because I was so very infatuated with my ex-husband (then boyfriend) who wanted us to stay in California.  I just couldn't see into the future to know that one day I would regret this decision and carry the burden for that disappointment with me into my 30's.

I initially attended a city college and my desire was to become a family therapist, however through many personal decisions and submissions, I ended my college career just short of obtaining my Associates degree with the famous phrase, "I will go back after a short break".  Well 13 years later, I am still mortified to write in my biography, resume, or any sort of paperwork that I never completed that degree.  It is bad enough that I feel I let my dad down by not finishing college, but to have to write it on everything that judges my intelligence?  That feeling and burden weighed heavily within my heart.  There were always excuses as to why I couldn't go back.  I wouldn't be able to handle the burden.  I would fail because it's been so long.  It's been too long for any of my credits to transfer over, so I'd have to start from the beginning and there would be 2 years down the toilet.  My son is too little.  The list goes on and on as to the excuses I gave myself for the inability to attend school again.

March 4, 2013 I made a decision.  I decided to quit making excuses and just dive in.  If there is one thing I am learning in this journey of single parenthood, it is that I have to take care of myself just like I am taking care of my son or else we both run the risk of failure.  In order for me to accomplish this personal goal, I needed motivation.  Motivation when you are 20 is completely different than when you are 33 and a parent.  My motivation now is to accomplish what I set out to do 15 years ago, as well as to be a role model for my son.  I want him to have the fullest life possible and with that comes attending college and building his self confidence and readiness for a work life.  I want him to see that I find it important for me so hopefully he can see it important for himself as well. So here I am in my third week of school and I am giving all praise to God for bringing me to the point of saying, "I can do this!" I hope that through my transparency, you will feel motivated to accomplish the goal that you never had the chance to finish.  Give yourself motivation to do something for you that will make you feel accomplished.  What does that goal look like for you?

Listening to Your GPS

If you are anything like me, your GPS is your best friend.  When I first moved to Colorado Springs, the change from straight grid-like roads in California to the winding and twisting roads had me almost in tears feeling lost.  I was so sure that the folks who plan the routes throughout Colorado Springs sat back day after day and figured out the most humorous ways to get from one place to the other.  There is usually one way in and out of shopping centers, one-way streets that turn into two-way streets as well as the fact that if you are driving on a street long enough, you will eventually come to an identical intersection you had passed, miles back.  Same streets that meet two times.

Being from California, I am a very good driver (tongue in cheek) and you can bet that I figured I could get around town on my own.  Well after literally just one day of living here I began taking my GPS with me everywhere I went.  I call my GPS, "Tom" and he became my best friend whom I even had very interesting one-sided conversations with along the way.  Inevitably I would miss my turn or turn too soon.  Instead of "Tom" getting upset, he would very matter-of-factually say, "Make a u-turn when possible."  I found myself apologizing to "Tom" saying something like, "sorry Tom, I missed it again!"  I would turn around and "Tom" would help me find my way by instructing me on the next move to make.

This journey of single parenting is kind of like getting dumped in a new city without a clue of how the roads intertwine or how they will get us from point A to point B.  Whether you are encountering single parenting for the first time recently, or you have been on this journey for awhile, the roads can be crazy to drive on.  Some full of amazing beauty and ease, and others with storms and twists and turns.  How are you driving on this journey? Are you alone in the driver's seat or do you have your GPS, better known as God, with you?

Like my GPS, I find that God gives it to me straight.  His instructions in the bible and my daily interactions with Him through prayer and study reveal the paths on which I should take.  My job is to stay on course and not miss my turns.  But if I do, there will always be a u-turn allowed and the instructions on the journey ahead, available.

Thank you God for all that you do for me.  I'd be lost on this journey without you.

Top Ten Ways to be the Best Single Parent

I recently read an article and it was a great find! I thought for this blog entry that I would simply forward these top ten steps to you from another great source.

Adults and children do better when single parenthood is perceived as a viable option and not as a pathological situation. Start with a positive attitude and focus on the benefits of single parenting, such as less conflict and tension in the home. Many single parents treasure their new-found autonomy and independence and feel hopeful about the future.

Establish firm, clear boundaries that leave no doubt that you are the boss In the home. Single parents (and two parent households) often make the mistake of allowing children to become equal partners or peers, and too many children are running the show. This loads to serious individual and family problems. Children need limits. Use consistent discipline that provides clear expectations and guidelines for behavior and rely on natural and logical consequences. Learn to say, "I love you enough to say NO to you.

The single parent frequently feels overwhelmed by the responsibility, tasks, and emotional overload associated with raising children alone. It is extremely important to manage time wisely and to ask for help when necessary. Assign children appropriate chores and tasks. Arrange car pools when possible, and ask other parents for help when needed. My children would not have been able to continue in club soccer were it not for the kindness of other parents providing rides to practices and games.

No matter how loving and competent you are, you are still only one person and you are doing a job most agree Is meant for two people. Do not allow your children to manipulate you by making you feel guilty about the situation. Remind children that you are a team and have to work together. Give yourself credit for a job well done. You may have to wait until your kids are grown before you get any credit from them. This is where a sense of humor comes in handy!

Nurturing is a high priority, but children also crave stability and security. While this is important for all children, it is especially crucial for children who have suffered 8 loss of stability due to divorce or death of a parent. Children need to feel secure and protected, and it Is our Job as parents to create a nurturing environment where they can thrive. Your children need to hear how much you love them and how proud you are. Some children may require more affection and attention than others, so know your child, and take your cue from him/her.

Part of creating stability and security in the home involves establishing predictable schedules and routines for your children. Of course, we must not be rigid and inflexible, because children need to learn that life is not always predictable. Find a healthy balance.

It is critical for your children's well being for you to take care of yourself. There are times when you feel like you need a break. Ask other single parents to trade babysitting or hire a mother's helper. Pay special attention to diet, exercise, stress management, and getting a good night's sleep. Learn relaxation, yoga, meditation, visualization, or whatever healthy coping skill allows you to relieve stress and tension. Take a walk, read a book, call a friend, take a nap (my personal favorite). A stressed out parent results in stressed out kids.

Develop a wide network of people who can provide you with emotional support, companionship, help in emergencies, child- care, reality checks, etc. Be selective and choose caring, reliable, trustworthy people who will be there for you in times of need. Single parents with healthy support systems usually feel better mentally and physically and demonstrate to their children that it is OK to ask for help. Support groups for single parents offer an excellent opportunity to socialize and share with others in similar circumstances.

Do not confide in your child as though he/she is your peer, regardless of how mature the child appears to be. This is a common mistake made unintentionally by many single parents who turn to their child for emotional support and don't realize they are hurting the child until after the tact. Allow children to be children, and find other adults for companionship and support.

Focus on success and not on failure. Set realistic goals as a family and work together to accomplish these goals. Decide what is important and prioritize accordingly. Have family meetings on a regular basis and allow children to have In put. Learn to effectively communicate and solve family problems together while still demonstrating that you are the boss. Give your kids credit and give yourself credit.

 Written by: Shellee Moore, M.F.T.

Strength to Discipline

There is a reason that Dr. Dobson entitled one of his books, "Parenting Isn't For Cowards".  Life can get so busy and crazy that we really have to focus on what matters most in shaping our kid's futures.   Everything can't and shouldn't be a battle, but once in awhile the lines have to be drawn and remaining consistent with expectations and authority becomes extremely important.

My son is a wonderful child and has a great gift of character.   As he grows in age (8) we struggle every so often with his growing independence and his desire to cross the boundaries of respect and obedience.  He is very strong-willed but usually is a quiet spirit that says, "yes ma'am" and obeys without much of an ordeal.  Last night we had one of those nights where his attitude was asking, "What are you going to do if I defy your request?"  I had a really long day and wasn't feeling very well and it would have been easy for me to simply ignore the bad behavior and hope for a better result next time but I knew full well that if not addressed, "next time" could be worse.   Instead I had to push aside the fatigue and face this defiance head on.  I stood my ground as calmly as I could and I explained amongst the frustration and tried patience as to "why" it was important to comply with my request and why his reaction and behavior will not be tolerated.  He screamed and cried and threw a couple tantrums and I'm sure my poor neighbors were quite bothered by the noise, but when all was said and done, he laid in his bed and fell asleep having accomplished the task he was asked to do.  Exhaustion has never felt so victorious. 

As I collapsed into bed, the thought occurred to me; how often do I do that to God? How often does he ask me to comply with his request for obedience and I either outright defy Him, or I throw an internal screaming tantrum.  He continues to love me and speak gently to me through my fits until I finally comply and then rest in the safe feeling of his love.

Parenting is teaching our kids how we are to obey God.   God is loving but firm in his commands.  Sometimes he's a gentle whisper and sometimes he speaks loud and clear.  The only difference is that God does not collapse into bed from exhaustion afterwards.  I am thankful for that!