Single-parent households are more common than ever before. I grew up with a single mom, and so did several of my friends. So if you're a child of a single mom (or dad), you're far from alone. The thing is, it can feel like you are. Every family is different, but there is a unique sense of self-analyzation that children of single moms often share. You might not even realize some of the ways that you face life differently. I know it has taken me a long time to learn enough about myself to grasp my strengths. When I dissect some of the patterns that form the way I interact with the world, I see the ways I hold myself back. There are unique strengths and weaknesses that come from my upbringing. They are part of who I am, but that doesn't mean I can't shape those characteristics into my future. To do that, I have to confront both the good and the bad head-on.
We have to live and learn.A sense of responsibility is something we each develop to different degrees, no matter what type of family we have. Every household lives with different dynamics and varying pressure on each person based on circumstance. When we enter the world as adults, we are solely accountable for our choices and how we affect others. When your family is held together by a single parent, there is no "fallback" for that parent when they need a break or make a mistake. Every decision they make comes with anxiety of the outcome. When we reach adulthood, even if we're single and without anyone to take care of, we have that voice in our heads that says we need to make all the smart decisions to make things easier for our families or to show our parents that they did a good job. Everyone responds to this pressure differently. Some people lean into it and base their value on achievement. Others rebel and shut out any responsibility for the feelings of others. Somehow I'm learning to reach a place in the middle. Once I turned 18, (it's scary to realize that was 7 years ago) I chased after “big goals” because I thought I could reach a place where I would "have it all together." In reflection, I see that I could have gotten to a place of contentment a lot faster if I had taken time to think about what it would actually look like to enjoy my life. Despite the confusion, I am grateful for all the lessons along the way that I never saw coming.
I know that God is the only reason I never completely gave into the rebellious route at some point. My faith in His purpose drives me to channel that side of me into experiences that allow my identity to flourish. You can make wise decisions for yourself, care about others, and still do things that no one has to "get." You don't have to overanalyze the person that people expect you to be. We all change, and it's important to grow into different goals and characteristics. God loves the real you, and you don't have to fit into any one idea of yourself.
What is dependence?We often hear terms like "co-dependence" to describe dysfunctional relationships, but it can go the opposite direction too. Independence is a trait that can move us forward, and yet it can also hinder us if it becomes a permanent state. No matter how much love and care we receive from our single parents, we still see the independence they have to embrace and mirror that. Without a close example of how to lean on someone else, we go into the world with a "lone wolf" attitude and good old-fashioned trust issues. That affects our relationships with people, ourselves, and God. It takes work for me to lay my burdens on God because my instincts tell me I'm the only one who has control of what happens next. The problem is, I can't always trust myself, and sometimes there's nothing I can do. So each day, I look for ways I can “let go and let God”. God wants us to take action and accountability, but He still holds our futures in His hands. We need to trust Him before we will allow ourselves to trust people and risk pain. When we know He will always give us reason to keep going, we can take risks and know they are worth it even if we get hurt.
Based on my experience, I am grateful for courageous single moms, and that mine taught me about God's love. No matter where we come from, our pasts and our families influence how we impact the world. We all have unique routes to how we follow Jesus. When we embrace the things that make us different and work through the difficult parts, we experience true freedom. Life is all about connection, and the more we know about ourselves, the more we can let others know us. God already knows who we are and who we will become, and He loves us without question. So as we deal with all the realities of adult life, let's rest on that fact. Whether you have a father, a mother, both, or neither in your life, you will always have an eternal Father who gave everything for you.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.