"I don't think any woman ever envisions herself a single mom," Angela Thomas, author of My Single—Mom Life (Thomas Nelson), candidly admits. Angela, 45, is a well-known speaker and author who holds a master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. The mom of four-Taylor, 17, Grayson, 14, William, 12, and AnnaGrace, 10—Angela's been divorced for more than six years. Here, she gives readers a firsthand look at the challenges—and blessings—of being a single mom.
Before your divorce, did you harbor any misperceptions about single moms?
Divorce carries such judgment in the church. I'm sure years ago I judged others the way I've occasionally been judged as a divorced mom.
I didn't fully understand the lives of so many women around me. And I definitely didn't realize the loneliness of that life, the difficulty of parenting alone, or the lost feeling of not being able to lean on anyone. When you solo-parent, no one's coming home to take over. No one's there to bounce ideas off, cover your back, or reinforce your decisions. There's no one to hold you through a tough choice and whisper, "I know you're worn out; I'll handle this."
I've learned to avoid making decisions—about spending, dating, or relocating—out of loneliness. I've also learned some good news about loneliness: It won't kill me—even though at times I feel it might.
I love to tell other single moms, "Receive the lessons loneliness wants to teach."
Today's culture rarely blinks an eye at women intentionally choosing to raise a child outside marriage.
True. But I know for sure being a single mom is not God's design for parenting. God meant for children to be raised by a mom and dad who love each other, love their children, and live in the same house.
Several of my never-married girlfriends have adopted orphans from all over the world. I applaud these women's selflessness. But even they will tell you single parenting is hard and a child's ideally supposed to have two parents.
You've written, "'Difficult' doesn't even come close to describing [single parenting]." What's the biggest challenge for you?
It's being afraid—even though I belong to God, trust him, and pray without ceasing. Sometimes I think, The kids seem to be overcoming the damage inflicted by this divorce. Their hearts are tender. God has us. We're going to be OK. But when one of them comes home from school distant and sulky, fear whispers to me, Your children will drag around these wounds forever. Then I begin the spiritual battle to fight back fear again.
But from the very beginning, I've believed Jesus' blood covers my children. I choose not to believe even one negative statistic about children raised in a single-parent home. I trust that when children grow up in a home where God is, they can become amazing, productive, whole people.
What's your opinion on single-mom dating?
If you're working toward healing, addressing your loneliness issues, experiencing spiritual renewal, and finally seeing clearly, having a dinner and a great conversation with a fun date is OK. I try not to spend time with someone out of loneliness or desperation just to be with anyone. I find it easier to make wise choices about a relationship when I sit across the table from a respectable person who shares my values and commitments.
But dating should take place apart from your relationship with your children. Go to dinner when the kids are visiting their dad. Have lunch while they're in school. Men shouldn't parade through your home. That just isn't fair to your kids.
Do married women find you threatening?
My single mom-ness doesn't threaten my married girlfriends at all. In fact, they're absolutely sure their husband's not interested in running off with a woman with four kids!
The married men on my street have been more than wonderful to coach my boys in sports, take them camping, or help out with home-repair emergencies. I'm sure these husbands are glad to leave my crazy house and get back to their quiet home with their wife.
However, for the sake of appearances, I never talk to a married man unless his wife's with us. I'm not interested in private conversations with married men; that safeguard keeps my interactions appropriate.
How do you fit into the couples-culture of the church—and even society?
While some single moms love belonging to a single-parent class at church or a single-mom support group, I love hanging out with couples and their families. Most of my social gatherings involve my suburban neighborhood; that support system works great for me. But everybody needs community. I tell other single moms to keep looking for the right mix of people with whom to connect.
Most of the time, I forget I'm a single mom. My four kids and I are a family. The only time I remember I'm a solo parent is when I'm introduced from a platform or interviewed. Then I remember, Oh yeah, that label again.
What message about single parenting would you most like to share with married moms?
Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. A friend told me yesterday, "Remember all those years ago when I ran into you at a conference? I knew your light was gone, but I had no idea you were going through a divorce." Then she said, "I wish I'd listened to my heart that day and stayed closer to you."
If you sense the light's gone from your friend's face, let God lead you to love your friend with compassion.
And remember, if, somehow, some way, you become a single mom, God will amaze you with his love, protection, and provision.
Ultimately the question for everyone—married and single moms alike—is, "This day, in these circumstances, how will I bring glory to God?"
For more information on Angela Thomas, visit her website: www.AngelaThomas.com.
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