Last week we began our discussion on why single parents struggle with the issue of guilt. Guilt over not spending enough time with the kids, not giving the kids enough monetary things, not being patient enough, and the list goes on.
We compare our children’s experience to our own childhood, to other families, and to what we see on social media. All this comparing sends us spiraling into an abyss of guilt and shame.
Let Go of the Guilt
So how can single parents stop holding on the to guilt and start living with freedom and satisfaction?
First, focus on what your kids have, not on what they lack.
- They have YOU! They have a parent who loves them, provides for them, worries about them, cares for them, attends their soccer games, cooks them dinner, knows their friends, reads books to them, and tucks them in at night.
- Remind yourself of all the things you do for them, and all the things you are to them, instead of wasting mental and emotional energy on what you don’t do or are not for them.
Second, stop comparing yourself.
- Don’t compare your childhood to your kids’ childhood. This is a different era. You are most likely idealizing your own childhood and blocking out some of the negative aspects. Focus on the positive things your child is experiencing in your new family dynamic. They are gaining independence. They are learning new skills. Together you are all learning how to communicate.
- Don’t compare your kids to their friends. That family you idolize could break up tomorrow. The family who looks so picture-perfect might be anything but. You never know what’s going on behind closed doors. Instead of succumbing to jealousy when it comes to other kids’ families, try inviting those kids into your home. Make your house and family a place of warmth and welcome.
- Don’t compare your life to those you see on social media. It’s easy for someone to hide her pain behind a camera. Instead of believing the pictures you see on social media, remind yourself that those pictures are someone’s highlight, they are do not tell the full story. No one posts a picture of the fight they had with their spouse, or their child in time out, or their home in foreclosure. Remember that social media is not real life. It is the life we want people to see.
More than anything, remember that in order to let go of the guilt, we must look to Christ. Through Him, we can do anything.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Php 4:13, NIV
Elizabeth Oates is a wife, mother of three, and an author, blogger, and speaker who encourages, inspires, and equips a new generation of women seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. She is a cliché Generation Xer from a broken home who once searched for purpose and significance apart from Jesus Christ. Today she devotes her life to spreading the message that we are not defined by our past; our God is bigger than our broken family trees and stronger than the sins that weigh us down. She graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary and co-founded Project Restoration Ministry. To learn more about Elizabeth or receive her weekly blog, please visit ElizabethOates.com