Tammy G. Bennett, known as the Coparenting Coach, offers help for single parents in our January 2010 "Single Parent Life" department. If you find yourself in a coparenting situation that causes your child to have to choose between two churches, Tammy has more help for you.
Why do you, as a single parent, take your child to church? Is it with aspirations that one day he will ask Christ into his heart? Are you hoping your child will love God and follow His will for his life? Are you planting seeds of God’s Word into his soul so his adult life will have faith as a true foundation?
Before addressing “what about church,” I challenge you to zoom out and think about the bigger picture. Your child will learn more about God from watching you than he will from attending church. Your passions shape your child’s values. He is watching how you worship and read your Bible, and from that he is learning how to love God. You must be the Christ-follower that you want your child to become. You cannot leave it to Sunday School teachers. Your child’s faith will be formed by watching you. What does he see?
Does he actually see you reading your Bible? Does he hear you pray? Do you enjoy worship music at home or in the car together as a family? Are you talking about your child’s life concerns and offering Christ-based solutions? Are you asking him “What would Jesus do?” Or are you shipping him off to church and hoping someone else will do that?
It is your real-life example, as a godly single parent, that will be engraved upon his soul forever. Yes, there are outside influences that can be a positive addition to this journey (pastors, Christian peers, etc); however, lifelong faith begins at home.
In the case of children of divorced families, both the mother’s influence and the father’s influence are equally important. Children need to hear their parents’ voices on spiritual issues. Some single parents may want to leave it to ‘the other parent’ to be the spiritual leader or example; however, children look to both parents for answers. No matter the disappointments of the past, a single parent who is sold out for Christ can have the most significant impact on her child’s lifelong view of God. Whatever circumstances that have created your “single parent” journey should not keep you from going after God with your whole heart and life! God can use it all, every detour and difficulty.
If you feel your example has been ruined because of divorce, don’t lose hope! If a child can watch his single parent consistently seeking after God, year after year, no matter the difficulties or mistakes, that one parent’s example will create a firm foundation that will outlast any pain. Giving God center stage in a single-parent household is more important than how many times a week you go to church or which parent the child goes to church with. Church is a secondary solution. A Christ-centered single-parent household is first!
Be sure to check out “Single Parent Life” in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife where we discuss: What do you do when your child has two churches?