Single parents find encouragement, helpful counsel at her workshopcomment (0)
September 15, 2003
Linda Ranson Jacobs knows the pain of divorce. She knows how it feels to be attending Sunday School with her husband one week, and then, being on her own raising two children the next.
"Being a single parent is one of the toughest things you can do," she said. "I learned to rely on the Lord."
Jacobs shared her difficulties and triumphs during a workshop for single parents titled, "When You Wish Upon A Star: Biblical Principles To Help Single-Parents Shine." The workshop was held during a singles retreat at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., during the Aug. 29-Sept.1 Labor Day weekend.
The workshop focused on encouraging single parents and giving them helpful tips on how to be godly parents. Jacobs told how she worked hard as a single parent to raise her children in a loving, Christian home.
Jacobs remembers the sleepless nights and the times when she was running from one child's school activity to the other. She often prayed that her check sent to pay a bill wouldn't bounce.
Because of Jacobs' effort to follow God while cramming the work of two parents into one, she has refused to let anyone say her two children come from a broken home. For Jacobs, those are fighting words.
"Just because your children come from a divorced home, doesn't mean they come from a broken home," she said. "It just means they come from a single-parent home."
Now that her children are grown -- her daughter is in the Navy and her son is in medical school -- Jacobs looks back on those difficult years as a time of spiritual, physical and mental growth.
Jacobs, now remarried, is the director of children's ministry with DivorceCare/Church Initiative, Inc., in Wake Forest, N.C. She is developing a new resource for children of divorce that will accompany DivorceCare.
During her workshops, Jacobs encouraged single parents to turn to God for help in finding peace.
"He will give you power, and the Lord will meet your needs," she said. "When you are obedient to the Lord, He blesses you."
A common mistake single parents make shortly after divorcing is becoming involved in another relationship before they have time to heal from the one that went bad. Jumping back into marriage too quickly, Jacobs said, will only make their problems worse. Recovery takes time, she added.
"If you haven't healed, that relationship could fall apart," she said. "Take care of the healing first. You have to heal yourself."
Jacobs added that the death of a spouse also requires plenty of time to heal. "When you divorce, you work on getting over the love that you once had, but when a spouse dies, that love stays with you."
About 75 to 80 percent of second marriages end in divorce, Jacobs said. Single mothers often remarry fast in order to have someone help them discipline their children and for financial support.
"And then when they get married, they can't agree on how to discipline the children and they can't agree on money," she said. "They end up divorcing for the two reasons they got married."
Single parents have to set goals and make a game plan on how they want to raise their children and handle finances. She encouraged starting a prayer journal, finding friends who can help keep them accountable and tearing up credit cards.
"Make it a priority to raise your children first," she said. "If children do not feel safe, they cannot learn. It's fear of the unknown that makes them not feel safe."
Single parents need to remember that they are not alone in raising their children. God can fill in the void left by divorce or death, she said.
"If you are a single father, God can be the mother," Jacobs said. "If you are the mother, God can be the father. God has a tender heart toward single parents. We are single parents for a reason and God will reward you."
Helen Rigby, a single from Columbia, S.C., attended the workshop looking for parental advice. Rigby, who has never married, said she is considering being a foster parent for a 10-year-old child.
Rigby wanted to learn more about the difficulties of raising children without the help of a spouse. She admits that Jacobs' class revealed more than she expected about the difficulties of being a parent.
"She went through a lot," Rigby said. "It really opened my eyes and made me think about whether or not this is something I want to do.
"It looks like it would be pretty tough, but I also know that there are so many children out there who need someone to love them." (BP)