We recently wrote a blog titled “I want Children, not Marriage”, and after the response, we decided to write a follow-up blog on single parenting. As much as one may think of good reasons to choose the path of single parenthood, it costs nothing to explore the consequences of such a choice. Unfortunately, most times, we learn too late what is truly essential. We are often clouded by the heat of the moment and end up making unreasoned out decisions. Instead, one ought to explore the options in light of God’s word and choose wisely. Otherwise, we might end up setting bad precedence to the younger generation behind us and, as such, raising a bitter and rebellious people.
Once, during my service as a chaplain of a mixed primary and secondary school, I preached about the fatherhood of God. What followed after that moved my heart. So many troubled students came to see me in my office. They could not relate to the concept of the fatherhood of God because they did not have dads. The majority blamed their mothers for not allowing them to know their fathers. They felt terrible seeing other children’s dads come to pick them from school or visit. One girl from grade five confessed to breaking the school rules just to get the attention of her male teacher. For her, the teacher reprimanding her was enough to make her feel the presence of a father figure in her life since she had no dad. Do men and women think about a child’s insatiable need for both parents before they decide to be single parents?
Here are some things you should consider if you intend to become a single parent.
Obedience to God
Consider your faith. As a Christian, you must remember that God’s unfailing love is not an excuse to sin (Exodus 15:13). As a Christian, you are called to flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sex outside marriage is a sin. Paul argues that as sin increases, grace abounds the more (Romans 5:20). However, this does not give a license for people to live in sin. The fathers of our faith are shown to be tormented and remorseful because of their sins, and so should we (Psalm 51:17; Matthew 26:57). Do not sacrifice your valued fellowship with God on the altar of societal pressure.
Put the Good of the Child above any Selfish Desires
Among the things to consider before choosing single parenting is the child’s life. Children are a gift from God. Therefore, we have to make decisions in their best interest rather than satisfy our selfish desires (Philippians 2:3). The best we can do for our children is to seek a godly relationship and pursue marriage prayerfully. A godly relationship helps raise a godly offspring as God desires (Malachi 2:15). That way, we will be intentional in planning for their arrival.
It is easy to pay more attention to the desires of the lady or the man to pursue single parenting, but how often do we consider the child’s cry? When a lady suddenly decides, for no good reason, that she only wants a kid and not marriage and leaves her man, it may depict selfishness and immaturity. They forget that the child’s moral needs are best taught in a family set-up together with a God-honouring father (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Fathers are God-ordained stewards of morality, love and provision for children (Proverbs 13:4; Deuteronomy 6:9). Mothers have the God-given responsibility to show love and tender care to their children and teach them (1 Thessalonians 2:7; Proverbs 6:20). But because of sin, women now think that they can raise a child just fine without a father and likewise do men. This is a lie from the evil one.
According to the Professional literature, the father’s absence is the most critical cause of poverty. The same is true for crime. Of all adolescents, those in intact married families are the least likely to commit delinquent acts. However, children of single-parent homes are more likely to be abused, have emotional problems, engage in questionable behaviour and struggle academically. Problems with children from fatherless families can continue into adulthood. These children are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach the age of 30 than children raised in intact families.
You Can’t be a Two-in-one Parent
A single mother will never be a father to her children and vice versa. Fatherhood is about more than just provision, and a mother does more than just giving birth to children. The presence of a father is just as critical as that of a mother. Money has its place in meeting children’s needs, but it cannot supersede the presence of a parent, even one who is without a coin.
A lady had two children, a boy and a girl. She kept the children away from their father and strived to meet all their needs. However, when the firstborn was almost completing university, she set out to look for her father, and now they are living together. She never visits her mother, who regrets every one of her early years’ decisions. She fears that she might end up alone in case the boy follows the same path. This example shows us how children are indeed wired to desire the presence of both parents.
Unfortunately, such is the experience of many women who have lost their children to the child’s dad and second wives later in life. You labour all alone in raising your child only to find yourself despised by the same child. The child grows up seeing you as the problem. The same can happen to men as well. Before you get pregnant or you get someone pregnant, think about that child’s interest. Malachi 4:6 speaks of children being restored to their fathers and fathers to their children. God desires that fathers and their children be reunited, and so should mothers.
Can a Child Substitute the need for a Life Partner?
Another thing to ponder is whether a child can replace the need for a spouse (1 Corinthians 7:2). Does having a kid mean that my need for a man or a woman in my life will completely disappear? On the contrary, many single men and women with children will be inclined to seek female and male figures for their children with whom they may have an affair.
Reconsidering Marriage Later
It is possible that a single mother could be married, and that would be a wonderful thing, but research has shown that the likelihood of a single mother being remarried is minimal. Having a step-father for your child could be a huge blessing. Still, ladies ought to take marriage very seriously by ensuring that they settle with responsible men who value godliness, marriage and children. This is not a light decision, as many relationships between step-fathers and children have proven to be challenging. Remember that you’re marrying not just a husband, but a step-father for your children.
The idea of wanting kids but not marriage certainly has no biblical foundation. It has and continues to cause much pain in society. Parents might have amicably parted ways or may not see each other eye to eye, but eventually, children are the ones who suffer immeasurably. Having learned of the consequences of such a choice from the above paragraphs, my hope is that you will resolve to honour God amidst all societal pressure. Like Noah (Genesis 6:9), may you choose to stand for righteousness even if you remain all alone (Daniel 1:8). Ask God for the grace and strength to live in obedience to him even when everybody else seems to be doing what is pleasing in their own eyes.
Cynthia C. Harper and Sara S. McLanahan, “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration,” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14, no. 3 (2004): 369-397.