I know a lot of single moms.
As a matter of fact, my own mom has been a single mom for most of my childhood and all of my adult life. And for most of those years, I believed the creed: a single mom is both mother and father to her children. After all, I should know. I was raised by one.
But then the Lord spoke to me on this as I prepared to speak at one of our women’s retreats many years ago. The retreat theme was a tribute to mothers so I was expected to speak about moms and tried as I might to prepare a wonderful message about the strength and beauty of being raised by a single mom, the Lord instead gave me a revelation and insight on my lack of good fathering.
So while all the other speakers talked about moms and honored the women in their lives, my message was entitled “Daddy’s Girls”.
Growing up in a violent home, I always said: “My father was a lousy husband but he was a good father”. And trust me when I tell you that I believed that wholeheartedly. I loved my dad. My daddy never hit his children. He taught us new vocabulary words every single night. He painstakingly combed out all the tangles from mine and my sister’s wet hair every evening after our bath. He taught my little brother to draw. And to me, he passed on his passion for books and reading and literature.
YET, as I prayed and prepared to speak for our retreat, the LORD began to minister to me to break the myth that fathers could be bad husbands and still be good fathers. The Lord showed me that to be a good father, a man MUST be a good husband. He must love and honor and cherish his wife, the mother of his children so that his children can learn how to love and be loved as adults in their own relationships.
And as I spoke about the mixture of love and pain, the Lord began to break down walls the women built to barricade their own need of a loving father. You see, no matter how much we want to believe otherwise, we ALL need to connect to a father.
Which brings me to another myth buster: we cannot be and are not meant to be BOTH mother and father to our children.
I can certainly attest to the fact that single mothers have the hardest job on earth. With limited resources, support and help, we are charged with the enormous task of ensuring the healthy mental, emotional, spiritual and social development of our children. Not to mention, keep food on the table, a roof over everybody’s head and keep our children away from negativity and the lure of the streets as best as we can.
And it’s often a thankless job.
With that being said, with as much as we hold it down on our own….we are still not our child’s Father.
We are our children’s mothers. No doubt, our role is vital. We are the nucleus of our family. No one can argue that. No doubt, you go to bat for your children day in and day out, no one can argue that either. No doubt, you’ve got to make a dollar out of 15 cents, especially if your child’s father is not doing right by his child, no one can argue that either.
But there is an irreparable damage that is done when we undercut the role that a father plays in his child’s life…even when he is not present, even when he is not doing all that he can to help his children thrive…and last but not least,… even if he’s a total screw up. Unless it’s an issue of abuse, drug use or child endangerment, it is important that every father has a pathway to bond and or reunite with his children.
At the end of the day, you want to be able to look your children in the eye and know in good conscience that you left the door open for their father to walk through and have a real relationship with them.
The thing to keep in mind, both sociologically and spiritually speaking is while a mother provides a child with nurturing, a sense of family and a foundation for growth and personal efficacy, a father provides a child with identity, self-image, legacy, paternal protection and a spiritual inheritance. This is why you often find that when a father chooses to walk out of his child’s life, chances are his father was not around and left him with an inheritance aka generational imprint of absentee fatherism.
See the father’s role in the natural ebb and flow of life is so critical that when he is discounted or missing in action you are left with broken homes, dysfunctional communities and an unhealthy model for fatherhood and manhood. Not only that, when the father is missing in action for whatever reason, no matter how much a mother loves and nurtures her child, on some level the child still internalizes his father’s absence as an absence of his or her worth and value, which means that you as the mom have to be extremely proactive about making sure your children know they are valuable and worthy. The bottom line is, your son cannot learn how to be a man if he never sees a man. Your daughter will never fully understand that her worth and value comes from her mind and not her behind, if she has never had a stable adult male in her life who is not trying to come at her sexually show her what non-sexual love from a male feels like.
If we ever hope to teach our daughters and sons how to be good fathers, we must teach them that mothers are meant to ‘mother’ and fathers are meant to ‘father’. We do that by being the mother we want our daughters to be and the father we want our sons to be. Because, there is a difference.
And its up to us to show them that.