3 Things To Consider If You Grew Up In A Single Parent Home
Most of my life, I watched my mother do things that led me to believe she was a superhero. With three girls, she worked the overnight shift at her job, made sure we had something to eat every night, our school things ready for the next day, all the while running on little to no sleep. She did this for years.
I saw her make something out of nothing and much out of little. My taste buds grew to love the quick boxed Tuna Helper and Hamburger Helper meals she would whip up together for dinner. Even though she was tired as ever, she relentlessly made sure her girls, my sisters and I, were well taken care of.
With the help of my grandmothers, close family friends and The Lord, there wasn’t much visible to my eyes, that we went without. I still remember in high school, kids thought I was rich because of the nice things we were blessed to have, despite growing up on a one parent income . My mom never failed to remind us of how blessed we were because some of the people we knew with two parents, weren’t able to give their children things that God allowed us to have in His providence.
As I have grown up into adulthood and reflect on my different experiences being raised by a strong, Black single-mom, I’ve come to realize that there are somethings that I didn’t notice in and about myself as a young girl. While I grew up with the example of seeing a hard-working mom who would make so many sacrifices to care for my sisters and I, I also began to see in my own relationships how I took on that model of independency. I began to see how the lack of the presence of my father in the home, affected my outlook on men and even my view of God. I’ve witnessed how my independent mindset, has impacted the way I interact with the community that God has given me in the Body. And I believe that if you are like me, and grew up in a single parent home, that you can consider these 3 things, that may show themselves visible in your life too.
INTERDEPENDENCE vs. INDEPENDENCE
I watched my mother just handle things. When child support wasn’t a faithful occurrence, bills were more than income and the fees for the arts programs I participated in were due, I watched my mother go from saying she didn’t have it to hearing, “here you go.” She just made it work with whatever she had and by seeing her example, that was what I learned to do too.
Detecting an independent posture flesh itself out in my adult life, has revealed to me that I would rather suffer in silence than to ask for help. Because it seems better to figure things out on your own than to ask those around you, right?
Doing things by ourselves can easily become our default setting, but God’s model of community calls us to practice mutual reliance. It’s hard to notice the pride in our own lives when we believe that we can function all on our own apart from the community God has called us to live in. Separating ourselves from the visibility that comes from walking alongside others in exchange for forging our own paths, will leave us with more blind spots and selfish bents than we would dare to imagine.
Our close and communal relationships are affected by our unwillingness to acknowledge our blindness in how we lack in the mutual reliance department. God has sovereignly placed the people in our lives there and we in a way, neglect to cherish and honor His providence when we don’t allow those who are blessings to our lives, to be just that. While we may have grown up seeing our moms and dads just figure it out and do things on their own, God is constantly reminding us through His Word, the community of The Holy Trinity and the fellowship of the Saints, that body parts only function properly, when they are attached to the rest.
FINDING A NEW NORMAL
Sometimes we fail to see the areas in our lives that have conformed to the image of how we grew up, instead of who we are in Christ. As we grow in community with others, we will begin to see the areas in which we need to shed our old normal, for a new one.
Finding a new normal, means that despite what we suffered through in not having both parents raise us because of divorce, death or whatever the case is for us, God has given us a double portion of newness when He saved us.
You see, not only did we become new creatures in Christ with our old nature deposited in the grave along with our sin, but we gained a new addition to what many of us experienced as lack. God did not save us by ourselves, for ourselves. He saved us because He loves us, for His glory with a whole host of other members of His Church that He both foreknew and redeemed.
So when it feels easier to lean on what is comfortable to us in how we were reared or what we saw in our homes, thinking that was the best life got, God shows us through looking to Christ that our lives ended as we passed from death to life and started the moment we became alive in Him. We are not what we didn’t have or didn’t see growing up, we are what God made us to be and has saved us to do.
Living in a fallen world will bring about many things that reveal that God’s original design and plan is so much better. It points to our greatest need in not looking to the way things have “always been” but instead looking to The One who has never moved.
ALL MEN AREN’T THE SAME
Growing up in a single parent home where your mother is primarily raising you, due to the absence or negligence of your father can cause real pain and tempt your eyes to see all men the same. The same goes for those whose experience was the complete opposite. While our experiences and hurt is very real, it doesn’t remove the reality that all men aren’t like the ones who may have hurt us or were poor examples of what we needed.
I’ve seen this in my own relationship with my fiance Josh. There are times where The Lord has to remind me that he’s not leaving even though that’s what I grew up seeing. Just because some men made commitments and didn’t keep them, doesn’t mean that all won’t keep their word. It’s often hard for me to accept the way Josh provides and leads in our relationship because I’m not used to witnessing such a thing.
When he treats me to different things or takes up the tab when we go out, I often feel unworthy and think that he shouldn’t do it because I didn’t really see men doing those things in my life growing up. I’m learning slowly that every instance in which my rationale tries to rise up against the ways The Lord is sanctifying me through this man, is a call to die to my own expectations and submit myself to what The Lord is doing even though it may be difficult.
The Lord will be faithful and is faithful to teach us how to push past the pessimism that breeds in the memory pool of failed expectations and the empty promises of others. Some of us heard, “I’m going to come see you this weekend” only to be met with the familiarity of absence. And distant to our understanding is the reason why we have “trust issues,” is because we haven’t been honest or even aware of how deeply rooted our upbringing affected our formation into adults.
Are you aware of the ways in which your experiences have shaped who you are today? Have you been honest with those around you what your experiences were like and how they can help love you well through them? Some of our eyes have seen and ears have heard some scary things that have really taken a toll on us. We reject any pursuit of a man, are so independent that we’ve become ignorant of our true need for community and bury so deep within us our raw feelings and emotions that we mask in the “I’m okay” responses that we know aren’t true.
There is so much healing that God has for us in confession, community and Christ. He is fully capable of walking with us through it even if we’re fully convinced that we’ve been doing a great job at managing on our own. Will you allow those in your community to love the mess out of you? Will you accept the challenge to ask The Lord to search your heart and help you to examine the ways you’ve neglected to practice mutual reliance? Will you yield yourself to The Spirit’s work and trust Him to do what you have a hard time believing that He’ll really do?
Rooted in the triune Godhead is everything done perfectly, that we saw done wrong. Your salvation, affords you the generous opportunity to be led and loved by a God who knows your experiences better than you can try to make sense of. And He invites you daily, into His courts of fellowship as He makes us new through His sanctifying work that we quite frankly cannot escape.