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Finding Hope and Joy While Single Parenting

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2021 6:00 am

Finding Hope and Joy While Single Parenting

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 30, 2021 6:00 am

Linda Ranson Jacobs, who specializes in ministry to single parent families, offers encouragement, hope, and practical guidance to single moms and dads so that they and their children can thrive.

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Good parents aren't perfect, and that's okay.

But there are ways you can grow every day. Focus on the Family Seven Traits of Effective Parroting Assessment gives parents an honest look at their unique strengths, plus some areas they could use a little help. Every mom and dad can help raise the next generation of healthy, mature, and responsible children. And this assessment will help get you started. Take the assessment at focusonthefamily.com slash seven traits.

That's focusonthefamily.com slash seven traits. The hardest part about being a single parent is I'm always just utterly exhausted. This week, the hardest part about being a single parent is having to be the PhD, having to be the cheerleader, having to be the coach, and never really having anyone support you in that way. What is a bit challenging is having a social life. Not having enough money for extras just to get by and pay your bills. You know, single parents have a lot to do. They're a unique brand of heroes. And today on Focus on the Family, we want to encourage you, if you're alone, and give you ideas for helping the single parents in your life.

Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, as Christians, we know that God is always with us. But the enemy loves to try to convince us that we are completely alone. That is his goal. I especially think that's one of Satan's biggest tactics against single parents.

He knows that if he can convince the single dad or single mom that no one sees them or cares about them, then he can keep that single parent discouraged and depressed pretty constantly. If that describes how you're feeling today, I want to remind you of what God says in Isaiah 41 10. Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you.

I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Man, that is powerful. Not just for single parents, right? That's for all of us.

That's for all of us. Today, we want to specifically talk to you, single moms and single dads, and give you some encouragement and advice for that journey you're on, and to remind you that you can do this because God is with you. And we have Linda Ranson Jacobs in the studio with us to do that. She has raised her two kids as a single mom, and she's the founder of the Divorce Care for Kids program. She's an author and has written a book called The Single Parent, Confident and Successful. And we have copies of that here.

Click the link in the episode notes to get yours. Linda, this is your first time here. Welcome to Focus on the Family.

Thank you so much. You became a single parent very suddenly, unexpectedly. Describe how those events played out for you.

What brought that about? To this day, I still really don't know what brought it about, but we were working in a church, both of us, and raising our children, and had what I thought was a happy family. And one day he walked in in the summer and he goes, I'm going to take you to dinner tonight. And I was so excited because, you know, he's traveled all the time. So we went out to dinner and he said, I wanted a horse and don't start crying in the restaurant. So I was like, I was just speechless.

Just so out of left field. I just, I didn't have a clue. Like I said, he traveled a lot. So, yeah, and it was after that, it was a long process because he kept changing his mind and moving back in. And I met with a pastor for counseling for over a year. And finally, one day with tears streaming down his face, he said, I can help marriages that need a band-aid, but your marriage needs more than that.

Yeah. How old were your kids? My kids were seven and 11 at the time.

Seven and 11. So that just, I think, paints the picture for the mom, single moms and single dads that are listening about where you were at then. There was an Easter Sunday service, I think, that really kind of woke you up after your divorce.

What happened and what did you feel like that God was telling you? Well, we pulled up into the parking lot. This is the first Easter after the divorce had gone through. So this was a for sure thing that was now as a single mom.

Well, that's one of the things, all the firsts after that, right? The first Christmas after your family falls apart, the first Easter. And I had been thinking, I am raising my kids in a broken home. And so we pulled in the parking lot and one of our friends had a tripod set up and he goes, Brian, bring your mom and sister over here and let's get a family picture. And my daughter screamed, don't you know we don't have a family? And she goes running into the church. And I was just speechless. And then my son just ducked his head and very lethal said, I guess you didn't know my dad moved out and we don't have a family anymore.

And he goes walking in the church the other direction. Oh my goodness. And it hit me, wow, my kids just verbalized what I've been thinking.

Oh my goodness. And so God got a hold of me. He really spoke to me during the sermon. And I got home and I said, kids, you said something today that's not true, that we don't have a family anymore. And I said, we have a family. And my son said, mom, look around in case you haven't noticed, there's no dad in the home. And God just gave me the words. The Holy Spirit just spoke through me and I said, I know there's no dad in the home, but you know what? God can be the father in our home.

And God can be my husband and he's going to be the father in our home. And my son said, well, that's great, mom, but I need somebody with skin on to talk to you. He was just such a little character. He was seven at that time? Yeah, he was seven. Wow. That's a fireball.

Yeah. And I go, Holy Spirit, you better tell him what to say. And I said, you know what? You can talk to God. You can talk to God and you can hear him back. He speaks through songs. He speaks through the Bible. He speaks through pastors and he speaks to you in your heart. And you just talk to God. And so going down the years, 10 years later, he's a senior in high school. And I said, Brian, you know, I'm kind of worried about you running around with, I forget the name we called him in the book.

We changed all the names with your special friend. And he said, mom, 10 years ago, when I was in second grade, you said, talk to God. And he would answer me. And I went to bed that night. And I said, God, I need a friend.

I need a male friend. I went to school the next day. And my friend showed up in class that day. And I have been friends with him for 10 years.

And I will not desert him in his time of need. Wow. I you had to be a proud mom when that happened.

I was so proud. Yeah. Linda, let me let me hit that topic.

You touched on it a moment ago. But all the statistics that can be heavy for that single parent mom or that single parent dad where you know, the children in a single parent household have more difficulty succeeding. You know, they don't graduate high school at the same rate as a two parent family. They don't go to college at the same rate as a two parent family, etc. But those are predictive things. I come from a single parent household, my mom, who was wonderful, even though I only had her till I was nine years old.

And then I even lived with my dad as a single parent dad a couple years later after foster care and some other stops. But in that context, those statistics, again, are predictive, but not necessarily accurate. That's not going to happen to everybody. It just makes your difficulties a little greater and those speed bumps a little bigger. But it's not impossible, especially for God.

He is the father to the father was I love that scripture. How did that burden you at first when you heard those statistics and and you felt like your kids were disadvantaged? If I could say it that way, I ran a therapeutic childcare.

And when I looked after I went to the divorce, all the children with major and I'm not saying this happens in every single parent family, but all the kids with major problems were from single parent homes. And so my first prayer was so pitiful. I got on my knees, I said, Oh, God, don't let Julie get pregnant when she's 15. And don't let Brian get into drugs. Those aren't bad prayers.

They're not bad. But if I had stayed on that line of praying, I feel my fear, my children would have failed. And so I had to really start studying God's Word and finding out how, how to raise these children. I wanted my children to be successful. I didn't want them to be a statistic. And I knew, for my childcare, I knew all the statistics. I didn't want that for my kids.

Yeah. I love your emphasis on humor. That was something my mom had, and I could see it in you. Just that ability to get through tough days.

I mean, where else are you going to go? You're either going to go into despair, or you're going to laugh and say, Okay, you had a particular issue with the baseball bat, which I also loved. What was the story with the bat? And how did you laugh about a baseball bat?

Oh, my goodness. My kids love telling this story. When I tell my daughter, I was going to write this book. And she goes, We have to change the names to protect the innocent.

But you are not innocent. And so... You're being named in this book. She said, Well, then I'm telling the bat story. So I had to promise her I'd tell the bat story. So I had gone to work early one day. It was just one of those days where everything went wrong, you know, this, just everything. I could go all day, but everything went wrong. I came home and I was so frustrated. Well, we had, the kids were doing their homework, you know, and we had an old dryer.

That's another thing, single parents, everything in their house is old and broken just about. So my son had come up with the idea, the dryer door broke. And he said, We'll just put a bat in the door and we'll jam the door up and then it'll work. And so we'd been doing that for months. So it did work. It did work. Good for him.

It did work. So... He's a clever boy.

He was. So we, I came home that day and I had put some stuff in the laundry and I put it in the dryer and I jammed that bat in the door and it fell out. I was like, Oh, so put this stuff in the door. And I jammed that bat in the door and I waited a couple of seconds and it stayed. So I walked, turned to walk away. And the minute my foot stepped in the kitchen, the bat fell out.

It was the, it was the end for me for that day. It triggered you. Yes, it triggered me. I took that bat and I started beating. Have you ever taken a bat and tried to beat a steel dryer?

It doesn't work very well. So I'm wham, wham, wham. And my kids come running in there cause they heard the noise all the way in the living room. And Julie saw what I was doing and she puts her hands like that. And she goes, Whoa, Brian, back up. Better the bat than us.

I mean, the dryer than us. Whoa, whoa, she's going to use the bat on us. And they started laughing. I started laughing. And it was just one of those moments. It just, it broke me. The hitting the bat, my daughter's comment, the look on their face. It was just a funny moment.

And they just love telling that story. Yeah. You don't look like a washing machine beater. I did.

Or a dryer beater. But you know, Linda, you encourage single parents to ask God. And I think this is a great point. So lean in on this one. You encourage single parents to ask God what instead of asking why.

What do you mean by that? Well, when you ask why you stay in that down moment. Why did he leave me? What did I do wrong? Why, why, why? You just keep yourself down. And so what we are in a lot of single parents, why God, why God?

You know, if you knew the answer, it really wouldn't make that much difference. You'd still be a single parent. So I tell single parents to ask what, what God, what do you want me to do? What do I do? Where do I go from here?

What do I do to become a better single parent? So I think we just have to change the verbiage in our mind to what instead of why. You know, Linda, that's so powerful for everybody. I mean, because I think when we're in a hole in this life, whatever it might be, we do go to the why questions with God. You know, why am I in this situation? Why does it feel like you've left me?

Why am I not being blessed the way I think you should bless me? And it's really unproductive rather than saying just what do you want me to do in this experience right now? What do you want me to learn?

What do you want me to do? I think, I mean, that is a really helpful if you can get to that point in your relationship with the Lord, right? Right. It is.

Yeah. Let's dig into the discipline and behavioral issues of being a single parent. Okay, this is everybody's going, okay, yeah, let's get into that.

Many single parents wonder if they're too strict or too lenient. I can see that with Jean and I, you know, we balance each other. I think we complete each other, which is what the scripture says. And one of us tends to be a little more lenient, the other one a little more strict. And together, I think we get to a good place, which is God's design.

Yeah, which is his design. And then, you know, in the, in the single parent situation, you don't have that person, that partner that can be the, the opposite. And how do you manage that if you're the lenient type of parent or if you're the too strict parent? Right.

And neither one will work with a single parent family. I tell people, and I don't know why we don't think of this more in our world today, but replicate Jesus. In every discipline situation, replicate Jesus. You know, Jesus didn't scream at his disciples. He didn't pout when they didn't do something he wanted them to do. He was empathetic. So many times single parents, they don't have empathy for their child.

They're so frustrated in what they're going through. They forget the empathy for the child. So Jesus was empathetic. He was loving. He was tender.

He was kind. He touched people. And he pulled a little child up on his lap one time. You know, my son was fifth grade when it really, when it dawned on me, Oh my gosh, I haven't hugged that kid. And I don't even remember when, because he was a growing boy and I was so busy all the time. I'd had my daughter and I started hugging my son because he needed those hugs from me. And my daughter needed those touches. So if it's, you just start out touching their elbow and then their shoulder, but replicate Jesus in your single parent life.

You can't fail if you replicate Jesus. You mentioned the step back parenting approach. That sounds, I like that. That's kind of like, get the big picture and better understand where things are at. But what is step back parenting? Well, and I do workshops on step back parenting and that means you stop. You literally take a physical step back because that slows your mind down. That helps you to think through the situation.

It's so easy to start yelling. You did what? Your teacher said what? You need to step back and think about it. My children learned really fast when they asked me a question or when they told me something had happened that I was going to step back and think about it a little while. And so step back parenting is important.

One, I was doing this at a conference and one guy goes, really? Because what my son did last night, I'd be stepping back to the next block. I was like, well, that's what you have to do. That's what you have to do.

We don't want you stepping forward. Well, we're enjoying our conversation today with Linda Ranson Jacobs, and she's got this great book, The Single Parent. And we do recommend you pick up a copy for additional help and encouragement as she's offered thus far in our conversation today on Focus on the Family. And the link is in the episode notes or call 800 the letter A in the word family. Linda, pushing on that theme of, you know, if you have a gut sense, you had that situation with your daughter, right?

And I'd love for that story because it's so educational. What happened with your daughter? How old was she? And what did she do? And what was your sense? And how did you respond? She was 15.

And we would had the conversation about dating. And let me just sidetrack a little bit because I think single parents need to know this when you come up on different decisions like dating and things, call all your your friends that your child associates with and ask what they're doing for parents of those friends. Yeah, the parents. I'm sorry. Yes, the parents of all your child's friends. I did that.

And then I wrote everything down and I made a list. So later on when she said, Well, the Smiths are doing that. No, no, the Smiths are not.

No, no, the Joneses are not. It's right here. So it came in very handy different times. But that one night I had studied my child, I knew my child and she was going to go spend the night with her friend that went to our church and they lived down the street from us.

And so we were all like, you know, it's New Year's Eve, everybody's excited about New Year's Eve. And, and I don't know about five o'clock, something didn't feel right about that, you know, that instinct. So I thought, I'm just going to call Laura's friend, her mom. So I called and I talked to Peggy and I said, Let me talk to Julie. She goes, Well, they're not here right now.

So you mind telling me where they are? And she said, they went all went on a date. I was like, Excuse me? She said, Yeah, they went on a date, Julie with her boyfriend. And, and they came and got the girls. And they're, I said, Where did they go at the movie theater and broken arrow?

That's where we lived. And I went to the movie theater, or I called her grandmother. And I said, Can Julie spend the night with you tonight?

She said, Sure. So I went to the movie theater. I went in the movie that they were watching. And I found her and I tapped on her shoulder. Okay, this is the cringe moment. I'm croaking my finger. She comes out. She goes, Mom, I got probably best not to say anything to me right now.

But you need to get your purse and your stuff and tell your friends goodbye because you're leaving. Oh, my. So I got her good for you. I we got in the car.

And she started Tyson. Not now. Not now. I have to think about this. And so I said, You're gonna spend the night with your grandma. And she said, What? Because she didn't like her grandma's cooking. She didn't like spending the night over there.

I tried to pick the worst place, you know, that. So she had no makeup, no toothbrush, nothing, you know, 15 year old daughter. So the next morning, my son gets up and he goes, Where's Julie? I said, Oh, she spent the night over at your grandma's.

And we went on. I didn't tell him what Julie did, because it was none of his business. This was between Julie and I, which single parents make a big mistake in letting the whole family know what's going on.

But this was between Julie and me and not Brian. So we just lounged around for a while. And about four o'clock, we went over and got her. And I was happy and talked to grandma Ranson. And we came home and I mean, my life went on. Three days later, she came and she goes, Mom, can you talk to me?

Please? Let's talk. It's killing me that you're not talking to me. And I said, I'm talking to you. You're not talking to me. You broke our relationship on your end, because you did what you knew I wouldn't approve of.

I'm fine. My life has gone on. She said, What's my punishment? I said, You've given yourself punishment.

I don't have to punish Julie, you did that to yourself. And so we went on with life. And, you know, it was just a learning experience. But it is tough to be that disciplinarian.

And, you know, on the other hand, to love your kids and to make sure they know that they're loved and bounce back and forth, doing it all on your own. And that's a beautiful story and expression of how to do that. Well, let me extend this story a little bit. The next year, Brian was in middle school, and he came home one night and he goes, and one day, and he goes, Mom, you should see how those kids make out in the hallway. I was like, Really? I better not ever hear of you doing that. And Julie goes, Yeah, or she'll come to school, tap you on the shoulder, pull you out, and you'll be embarrassed. I was like, I tell people, use one child to teach another child. That's right. Do that once that bold step one time.

That's all you need. Linda, your son had a little bit of an embarrassing moment, I think, around lunch, where he was eating other people's leftovers or something at lunch or nibbling off their tray, and a school counselor called you about that. This is a great example of boy, humility. Well, he wasn't embarrassed. I was embarrassed.

Right? What happened? Well, the school counselor called, and she said, Miss Ransone, this is really a delicate subject. And I like, Oh, my goodness, what has he done? And so she said, Well, you know, I know Brian's really skinny, and you're a single mom, and he just he's hungry all the time. And so he's not buying his lunch.

He's eating food off the other kids plate. And I said, I'll take care of that. And she said, You know, you might want to apply for a free lunch program. And so that night, I said to the counselor, I said, You need to know something. My son has $80 saved in his drawer in his bedroom, because he's saving all of his lunch money to buy a TV.

So it's not that he can't, he just can't afford it. But I'll talk to him about eating off the other kids plate. So we had that talk tonight. And I said, I'm going to go ahead and apply for the free lunch at that time, you had to apply for it and everything. And so I did that. But it was so it was so embarrassing for me to apply for him to eat off other kids plates.

And for me to have to apply for the free lunch program. I was just I was trying to do everything on my own. And that was, I don't know, it was just hard for me.

And you have to understand at that time, not everybody got a free lunch at school. So that was very difficult for me to do. What advice do you have for that? Yeah, that parent, single parent to be able to reach out and ask for help. It sounds like a bit of a, I mean, it's tough.

I can imagine that. But the pride issue of that, the sense of failure, inadequacy that I'm not adequate enough to provide, you mentioned those struggles and those, you just, you have to think of the welfare of your child. And you have to put their welfare above your own. And, you know, we all love our children so much.

But when you're a single parent, there's nobody to discuss this with, do you think we should apply for the free lunch program or the loan or whatever it is. And so you have to put your own issues aside and you just have to do it. You might talk to a friend or something, but you, you know, you pray about it and you move forward.

Yeah. I appreciate what you just said there, Linda. I was thinking as you were speaking that you really have to stay connected to God and ask him, what do you want in the situation?

You've got to be really in tune as a single parent, but it's a tough thing because you've got to carry the load of raising the kids and all the work. How do you find time for the Lord? Well, I would get up at four o'clock every morning. And we lived in Oklahoma and we had, it was really cold in the winter time. And so I turned my heater down at nighttime because I just could not afford all the bills. So the next morning I'd get up and I'd turn the heater up. So it'd be warm when the kids got up and I'd go downstairs and I fixed me a cup of tea and I would get my Bible and I'd wrap a blanket and put it on the heater on the floor and the warm air would come up around me. And so I drink a couple of drinks of tea and I would start reading my Bible. But many mornings my kids came downstairs to me like sound asleep because I was so tired and that bothered me for so long.

But a dear friend of mine in California said, you know what? God knew you were making the effort and God was wrapping his arms around you. And you were sleeping in the arms of the Lord when that happened. No, that's a good picture.

That really is. We're coming in for a landing here, Linda, but a couple more questions. One, after your children were grown, you married your second husband. You delayed that because you didn't want to, I think, encumber your kids, I believe.

But you did marry your second husband, but he passed away. Describe that feeling. You must have felt loss on top of loss.

I did. It was hard. And I just thought, well, that's it for my life.

I'm over. I'm just going to go sit in Oklahoma and sit in a rocking chair the rest of my life. God wasn't through with me. God is never through with you. I don't care how long you're a single parent. I don't care if you remarry and you divorce again.

You remarry and the person dies. God has something in store for you. And I didn't know where we were going at the time, God and I, I didn't know. But God has taken me on an incredible journey. And I, the man I married was Mexican. So I got acquainted with a whole different culture. And we are that family and are still close today.

And whenever an issue comes up, they call me. And how long were you married? I wasn't married less than a year. Wow. And then he passed away. I mean, again, you kind of are poster person for grief, you know, and I know that's not you because the smile on your face and your optimism and your hope in Christ. No, but you grieve, you grieve so deeply. And I just, I, you grieve so deeply. You grieve for the divorce, the death of your marriage, but you grieve when someone dies. But when they die, you have the hope that you will see them again in heaven.

And you know, if they're Christian, they are in heaven. So I knew that Mario was in heaven and that he was peaceful and he was free of cancer. So it's a different experience. It's a different grief, but it's still grief. You had an experience with a friend, Mandy, that gave you a glimpse of how God can use our pain for good.

And this, I think, given what you've just said, this is the right place to land. Share that story with us. What happened with Mandy? She was a good friend of mine. She had a four year old and she contracted cancer. She was not a Christian. She came to know Christ through the cancer.

None of her family were Christian. I had been out of town all one day and came back into Broken Arrow and just, I'll stop by her house. And when I rang the doorbell, her sisters go, we have time to reach you all day. And they go, she needs to talk to you.

And they left. And she said, I want you to plan my funeral with me because I know I'm dying. And so we, her and I planned her funeral. And then when she was in the hospital, I went to the hospital all the time to visit with her. And I would climb in her bed and sing praise songs to her, choruses and things. And one night I got a call from the hospital and they go, you need to come back up really fast. I'm like, why? And she goes, you need to sing these choruses to her.

Her family have her so upset her blood pressure. I said, I'm a single mom. I'm there all the time. I need a night for my kids. And they go, please, please. I said, I will come, but you have to get her family out of the room. And so they said, when you come, her blood pressure goes down.

She calms down. And I don't know if this nurse was a Christian or not, but she said, the Lord speaks into her life at that moment. So I went, I stayed really late that night. I sang and sang and sang, and she was in a coma. She was so calm, but I know she heard the words of the Lord.

I know she did. Well, Linda, I mean, that is a perfect place to remind everybody that there is hope in Christ. And even if you're, you know, feeling the world is against you in so many ways, you've experienced so much of that. And you've really described everything in your great book, The Single Parent, Confident and Successful. And I just would encourage single parents to get a copy from us here at Focus. And if you can't afford it, we'll get it into your hands.

I'm sure other supporters will take care of that expense. I'll trust and have faith that God will do that. But Linda, thank you for being with us. Thank you for putting this down in the book. I thank you for the hard life that you led so much of my mom's story and your story too. So I really connect with you in that way. And it seems like you've managed it well, and your kids are doing well.

And that's what counts. My kids are doing well. And the Lord, just let me say that every single parent don't delay what God can do for you in your life. Stay with him. You may not know right now, but just stay with God.

You don't know what he has planned for you. Thanks for being with us. Thank you. Some great words of hope from our guest today, Linda Ranson Jacobs. And we do encourage you to get a copy of her book, The Single Parent, Confident and Successful.

And it might be that you'd be willing to give a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today. When you join our partner team, we'll say thank you by sending a copy of the book. And as Jim said, if you need the book but can't afford to give, contact us anyway. We want to make sure you have this great resource. Our number is 800-AFAMILY or click the link in the episode show notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-09 23:36:27 / 2023-12-09 23:49:44 / 13

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