It doesn't have to be these long conversations. It really can be along the way, so to speak, as you're doing life with your son. But just doing it with the intentionality that you're building this connection. These investments that you make now are going to be the ones that are significant deposits that you're going to have to make withdrawals against later in life.
And so make those small deposits today and the interest will grow over time, just like in an investment account. That's Roland Warren offering encouragement to single moms, particularly those raising boys. And he's back with us again today on Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us.
Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. And John, I was so encouraged by our conversation last time, and this topic is so important. As we mentioned, the number of single parents in the United States continues to grow, and the U.S. leads, unfortunately, that statistic. We're the nation with the most single parents in it. And that's something I'd love to see eradicated or at least significantly reduced over the next couple of decades. Last time we encouraged single moms to take the time to slow down and find the healing process.
Our guest was very adamant about that. You've got to grieve the loss of what you dreamed about. And I totally agree. Sometimes you don't know how to do that. I'd say a lot of times you don't know how to do that.
So if you didn't hear the program last time, go back, get the download, get the smartphone app, and you can hear it at your leisure. But I would really encourage you as a single parent mom to go back and do that. Single parent dads, we hear you. We know you're there. Often when we're talking about single parent moms, you'll write us to say, hey, we're out here, too. The bold truth of it is 80% of single parents are moms and 20% men. So we know you're there. There's stuff you can glean from these broadcasts that I would encourage you to listen to with that open heart. But we're talking about moms with boys predominantly.
Yeah. And as you're seeking out healing, if you don't have somebody in your life, a pastor, a good Christian friend, give us a call here. We have caring Christian counselors at Focus on the Family.
Donors make their presence here possible. We'd love to schedule a consultation. It's a free over the phone consultation. Just call us and we'll set that up. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word family. And Roland Warren is our guest. He is the CEO of Care Net, an influential pro-life ministry. He's written a book that is the basis for our conversation today. You can get it at our website.
It's called Raising Sons of Promise, a guide for single mothers of boys. Roland, welcome back. Well, glad to be here.
It was so good last time. And I just, again, I can't say it enough. If folks missed it, go back and listen to it because I thought your answers were just right to the heart of a single mom's plight and what she's worried about, what she's concerned about.
We want to continue today, get more into the nuts and bolts of tools that can help them. But first of all, what do moms need to know about the dangers boys face when they're growing up without a dad? And both of us being from single parent moms, are you sure you want to tell moms this?
I do. You know, one of my goals in writing this book was to try to help single moms hear from their son things that maybe their son doesn't have the ability to say. I mean, things that I would have wanted to tell my mom when I was eight, nine, 10 years old, but didn't have the emotional intelligence or verbal skills or whatever to actually say. So the second part of the book is really about, you know, his journey. The first part is about her journey, right? I'm assuming her path and kind of that healing your inner Hagar, if you will, and walking through the second part is really his, his path and how to guide him in that way.
And maybe to give you some insight on some of the things that he may be thinking, feeling that he hasn't been able to express to you to give you a sort of a heads up on those things so that you can be more intentional in that. Let's hit the Hagar illustration for the listeners that didn't catch the broadcast last time. Yeah, just hit that real quick.
So they understand what you're saying. Sure. Absolutely. So the book is really a big part of the book is really using the story Hagar and Ishmael, Hagar being the surrogate mother, if you will, that Sarah gave to Abraham to have a son through Hagar. And, of course, if you know the story, well, Sarah ends up getting pregnant with Isaac, and then Hagar and Ishmael and eventually are kind of booted from the camp, kind of put out on a donkey or whatever with a little water, maybe a little food or whatever and basically sent off. And so when I started thinking about that story, it was just it's an old story with very contemporary aspects to it that it's sort of an archetype of a single mother and her son. In other words, a guy made a promise to you made a promise to your son and didn't keep it. And so that that's the framework that I use for a lot of this. There's a lot of emotional, spiritual wealth in what you're talking about. And the promises God kept to them, even in the plight of being out in the desert.
And, again, listen to it if you missed it last time. Let's get into it when it feels like the odds are stacked against you as that single parent mom. I mean, you can live in that soup of despair.
I guess I could call it that. And, you know, to a degree, be justified. Things are stacked against you. It's not where the Lord wants you to be.
It's not a healthy place to be. But how can that mom be more proactive about guiding that boy's future? I mean, that's probably the thing two parent families worry about.
Yeah. How do we guide these boys? So it's not isolated single parent moms raising sons. All of us are worried about our sons because there's so much against them in the culture.
Yeah, no, absolutely. And we see that that, you know, boys and young men are not thriving the way that they should be. Right. All the data seems to see all the data seems to say that and particularly in a situation where a single mom, you've got an extra challenge. I think one of the key things is early on, you want to really be cultivating your connections with your son. That is so important. That's what matters most. That's what matters most. And we talked about that in the last broadcast about the importance of nurturing, which is really connecting with your son heart to heart and really making that connection.
But there are some challenges that you may face. And one of them, I just love this framework that Jack and Trisha Frost kind of laid out in one of their books, which was this whole notion of an orphan's heart. And as I really resonated with that, it was a little scary. It did. And I read this and I said, Oh my gosh, this is me.
Describe it. Well, you know, it's interesting, because if you look at John chapter 14, verse 18, where Christ says, I will not leave you as an orphan, if you will, right, he's talking about that. If you look at the Greek there, what that really means is with with an uncertain affinity or affiliation, if you will, or bereaved. And I started to think about that for a son who's growing up without a father, that whole notion that you have this disconnection there who how am I connected? Am I really connected?
Because he's not really leaning into me. And there's a woundedness and a bereavement that comes with that. And that Christ, obviously, in that context, doesn't want to leave us with that. But that's something that your son may have.
And you can see some of those pieces. And I saw that in my own life, this tendency to avoid intimacy, self reliance, almost to the point of just I don't need anybody else. And, frankly, just a fear of really building these deep relationships. Yeah. And I started to think about that in my own life, as I kind of grew up, and what that meant, and what that meant for me, it really, in a lot of ways, is tied to trust.
Because if you can't trust this person who's supposed to love you, like no other, being the father, your father, within who can you trust? And I really believe that and that's kind of a characteristic of orphans heart, and you start to walk in that and live in that it can have an enormous impact on you in terms of relationships. Yeah. While we're here in the orphan code you also have something you call the boy code. Yeah, yeah. Well, that's not actually original to me.
It's William Pollock. And he talks about this code that boys have, and any guy knows it, it's sort of like, you know, you, you don't let them see your sweat, you know, you you kind of the strong silent type, you're distant, you don't make those emotional connections, if you will, you're independent, you're unafraid, all those different pieces. And I, I looked at that, particularly when I, in my own life, when I dealt with the death of my brother, and I mentioned the last episode that my brother drowned, when we were both at a public pool, I was eight, he was 10. And I just leaned right into that.
And, you know, I really didn't have anybody to help me process that properly. But I leaned into that, you know, you just don't cry, you just move on, you just move forward, you suck it up, you just suck it up. And it's a deep wound, it's a deep loss that you have, we were very, especially for a younger brother. Oh, absolutely. And, and frankly, after my father was out of the family in a weird kind of way, my older brother almost became sort of a surrogate father.
Absolutely. We were so connected, and then he was just gone. In a lot of ways, you know, kind of leaned into that orphan perspective as well. Here was my father who wasn't as connected as I certainly would have wanted him to be. And then here was my brother, my kid brother, we, my name is Rollin, his name was Ronald, you move a couple letters around, and we've got, we were so connected, they were like, we were like one name, you know, and and then he was gone.
So let me let me ask you to last time you described your mom just not talking about it. It was like he never existed. And that how that, you know, created an obstacle for you. How did you process that?
Well, I honestly I leaned into the same way. At one point, I actually forgot that he existed. Wow.
I forgot when his birthday was I forgot it just became that thing. And looking back on it with my mom now, you know, and I don't want to be critical of my mom, because I think she processed it the way that she felt that it was best, which was, we need to move on, we can't like stay here. Yeah. That so that was the process.
And that's what I learned. But you know, God has that process where you put Ebenezer, you put those stones, right, the stones of remembrance, because they're so important. And I think in that moment, we really needed one. And we needed a process to do that. And I think in a lot of ways, that modeling would have really been important for me at that moment.
So I just stuffed it moved on. And at some point, I just moved into his role as the older brother, if you will, and in a lot of ways, kind of forgot that he existed. So you know, that that distinction, and again, you know, universities are never going to, I think, regain their equilibrium in this regard. But there are differences between boys and girls.
I'm sorry. Yeah, it's just factually true. And if you're a mom or a dad, you know that you know, boys play differently than girls, they act differently.
It's just true. And so forget the baloney of there's no difference, because that's that's very passe. Yeah, but in that context, hit that idea of being a single mom raising a boy, and knowing the challenges that are unique to a boy, in terms of his development, it just hit some of those distinct. Well, I think that, you know, in a lot of ways, you know, you have to, to your point, you have to resist the narrative that's out there that there's no difference between boys and girls, right? Boys process things very differently. And I think particularly this difference between boys and girls at some point, right, he's going to go down this path to become a man and you're a woman. So your daughter is going to kind of track with you in terms of that other path, if you will, the journey perspective, but the sun's going to go in a very different, different way. And you need to be aware of that because it's going to truly affect your ability to connect to him and help him become the kind of man that God has kind of called him to be.
Yeah. Well, our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly is Roland Warren. And he's written a terrific book. We're weaving through the content here on Focus on the Family. And the book is called Raising Sons of Promise, a guide for single mothers of boys.
And as you can tell, there's some great content here. Get a copy of the book when you call us. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, or click the link in the episode notes. Roland, one of the things that Gene and I are trying to do as an intact biological mom and dad family is help our two boys be the men they need to be for their marriages, et cetera. And you know, again, I can imagine because my mom had to do it the best that she could was to prepare three boys in her nest, my two older brothers and me for that job. We never really talked about it.
I was too young. I don't think my older brothers, Mike or Dave would remember any conversation my mom had with them about being a good husband, being a good father. But how does that single parent mom cast that vision for marriage and for fatherhood? What are some good elements for them to be aware of?
Well, the first thing is that you stressed it right on the front end, which is you have to actually cast that vision, right? It's because, see, he's living in an environment that is contrary or the opposite of what you want for him. I've talked to single mothers and I and I asked the question, what kind of husband or father is your son going to become? And often that they've never even considered that question. And then almost reflexively, they'll say, well, he's going to be a good one.
Right. And you say, well, I say, well, how is he going to be a good one? How is he going to learn that? Then I say, well, what kind of father did he have?
Well, he was not good, was a bum. So what was modeled for him was bummed him. So that modeling is there. So if he's not going to walk in the model that's before him, you're going to have to be intentional in terms of what you do to help him be a good husband and a good father. And I was really inspired by this with the story of Hagar, because the last time you hear about her in scripture, it says that Hagar found a wife for Ishmael. And I thought, well, here's a woman who has a vision.
She's leaning into that vision. Remember, because one of the promises was right, that he was going to be a father of many nations. Well, in order to be a father of many nations, you need a wife. So she had tapped into that vision that, oh, my son doesn't have that promise. He has this promise, and he needs a wife in order to make that happen. So as a single mom, are you asking that question?
What kind of husband, what kind of father is my son going to become? And the reality is that the better job that you do as a single mom, it actually can work opposite. In other words, you're teaching him that he doesn't need to be there, not that he does. That sounds counterintuitive. If you think about it, if you don't frame that for him properly, then he gets someone pregnant, he'll think, well, my mom did it by herself.
Why can't you? Is that really what you want for your grandkids? I've never met a single mom yet. My hope and my dream for my daughter is that she become a single mom. In other words, I introduce her to every shiftless guy I can so he can impregnate her and move on, or that I want my son to become that. So if you don't want your son to model what happened with his dad, you're going to have to be intentional. You're going to have to cast that vision for him about what it means to be a good husband and a good father.
And you can walk down that path and there are things you can do. I was going to say one thing that I think both of us share in reading the book, the keeping your promises part. And I just, it wasn't explicit. I want to ask you this question because you and I both had a very similar experience in that my dad on my seventh birthday promised to bring me a mitt. He was already not in the home. And every 15 minutes I ran to the curb looking for him coming down the street with that mitt. And I even explicitly said, do you mean a real leather one?
Yeah, I'll bring you a real leather one. You had that same experience. My dad never showed up that day. Yeah. And I remember my friend Ricky at the end of the day just hit me in the shoulder saying, ah, it'd be all right.
He'll show up at some point. And you had the same thing. I did different object, different object. Yeah. I was waiting for my dad to come get us. It sounds like such a silly thing now. Oh, the impact it had on both of us. He was going to take us to get ice cream.
And my dad drove fast cars. And that was always fun because he'd always get to a stoplight and just rather than it was just such an important thing. I just waited and waited and waited. I can still kind of see myself waiting under this tree for him to come.
And eventually he didn't show up. And you know, into my heart, I have to really admit that my heart kind of hardened in that moment because I cried about that. Absolutely. And I said to myself, I am never going to cry about this again. I am absolutely.
And what I did in that moment, which I lowered my expectations and I lowered my expectations so that I wouldn't be hurt. Right. But that's not healthy.
No, that's not healthy. So I had the I had the addition of the embarrassment. Yeah. Of my friend knowing that he had promised it to me and then didn't show up. And then it was a worth issue. I'm not very worthy. Right.
Yep. So the real point I wanted to make on this is with your own kids today. I mean, I can remember giving them this talk often. I'm not going to make a lot of promises to you. But when I make a promise, I'm going to keep it. And then I would ask them from time to time to give me a grade on whether or not I had kept my promises. Every year I'd say to Trent and Troy, have I kept my promises this year?
No. And I think it's a wonderful insight and it kind of leans into the son of the promise because the reality is that if these promises are broken, like that the dad makes, then your son can start to believe I'm actually not a son of the promise. Like, I'm not worthy of people keeping promises for me. And that's where a single mom has a very important role to play here. And why that communications part that we talked about in the last show and a little bit in this one is so critically important because he needs to be able to come to you and be able to say that hurt.
Right. And you need to be able to help him process that. But that's only going to happen if you lean in and you don't just kind of think about I'm providing without that nurturing piece there, because then you're not gonna be able to guide him through this perspective. And then when I talked about just me breaking down in tears when I had to give a speech and I talked about my father's funeral, that was the moment that I was thinking about. I was thinking about that moment of being less than or feeling less than. And all of those emotions, all of those emotions are so critical.
And they came all back up in that moment. Well, and you said it well, it's the broken promise. Yeah. And you can fill in the blank.
Yes. It's the broken promise that you didn't stay my dad. It's a broken promise.
You didn't stay married to mom. It's the broken promise that you never came through on my birthday when you made a promise or whatever. And that, I mean, I think for a single parent mom to pick up on that and have that discussion with her son, you know, promises are important. God makes us a promise. Think of that relationship. If that's what you and I walk away from with our earthly father, that he can't keep a promise.
How do we process our heavenly father making that promise that we have eternal life in Christ? Right. Are you sure? Yeah, absolutely. Well, you start to question it. And cause if you become, if you really walk in, I'm a son of the promise, and you're going to be a son who makes promises and who keeps promises. There's a whole movement called promise keepers, right? So I think that it's so important that, that you kind of lean into this and again, Hagar's story and just kind of lean into that and walking through that and which we talk about a lot in the book will really help you kind of understand how significant these things are and the power that you have as a single mom to really kind of change the trajectory of the future and how important it is. Well, be mindful of that one. That's a big one, as you can tell in both Roland and I's past. I mean, man, the promises are big. Let's move to double duty dad.
I like this. I think I started the program last time with a bit of an infomercial for, you know, intact families in the church to look for that single parent mom and to embrace her and to put an arm around her and do things with her and her children. What's the double duty dad? It's very similar, but you did it.
Yes, it is. It's really this concept of dads, right? Not looking out, but looking down and around being intentional about kids who are growing up without fathers in their lives so that you can model what it means to be a good father, not to replace their dad, but help them see what fathering looks like. And frankly, if you're a husband, help them see what husband, what it means to be a good husband and what that looks like. And this is such an important concept for single moms to lean into.
Why? Because even though the father of your child is not in his life, there's an opportunity for you to tap into other men who are within your circle of influence, who can help model what it means to be a good father, what it means to be a good husband. And you can lean into that.
And it's a powerful, powerful concept. I had a friend of mine who, who was a college buddy I'd known for years. He died unexpectedly when he was 50. He had a 12 year old son at that time. And, you know, myself and some of my other college buddies, we committed to kind of step into this young man's life. We both were undergrads at Princeton, his father and I. We've been mentoring double duty dadding this young man for eight, nine years now. He graduated from Princeton a couple of years ago.
He's now doing incredibly well. And each one of us played a different role. And I really think it's a powerful concept for the community of men to step into the lives of those who are growing up without fathers in their lives. And I think as a single parent, being very intentional about this concept is so critically important and will really help you, help you help him fill this hole that he has and this desire that he has to learn what it means to be a good husband, what it means to be a good father by seeing men who are actually modeling that. And again, what a great example of the Christian church and what we should be doing in faith in Christ, right?
This is what he would, I think, want us to do. Let me, let me go back to the single parent mom for a moment. The importance for her to understand the power of presence. And I can, I mean, I said it on day one, my recollection, my memory, having my mom from zero to nine was her working two, three jobs and Sunday night was laundry night and she would, we'd sit down together and I'd help her try to fold the clothes. I don't think I did that great a job, especially on my t-shirts, but you know, we'd sit and watch FBI or whatever was on TV and we'd be folding laundry together. But my impression of that was you know, she was in a lot of fast paced duty responsibility things and she didn't really have the time to sit down with me and just say, what's on your heart, little Jimmy.
It just didn't happen. And so my engagement with her was always around helping her with chores, helping her with household stuff. So what would you want to say to that single parent mom about presence? Yeah. And that is one of the, one of the biggest challenges because there just isn't a lot of time and we don't want to give guilt to that woman.
Absolutely. I think the easiest way to do that is to just integrate the intentionality into the things that you're doing on a day to day basis. A simple example of my wife does a deal with my boys and she would just make a habit of just writing little notes and putting them in their lunches and they would get their lunch and they would see the mom cares. Which would be like a 30 second, one minute thing.
30 second thing. And frankly also really engaging in those opportunities when you're taking him different places and when you're going to different events and things of that nature, making sure that that happens. And frankly, even if you can't be there, having a conversation with him afterwards around how it went, like I talked about sports for me, that was such a big part of my life and yet my mother and I rarely had conversations about what happened there.
So much of my emotional wellbeing was tied up in my athletic pursuits. If he's into video games, whatever it is, that kind of a thing, maybe you just sit there with him while you're folding clothes and you ask him about the different characters there. And he might just say, hey mom, we don't really care that much about that. But the reality is that you have all these different opportunities on your day to day life as you're doing day to day life with your son to kind of show him that you care and to have that intentionality. And there's really a way to kind of connect with him and show him the presence is so important to him.
And Roland, both you and Jim could answer this question probably. Does it have to be like a long amount of time? I'm guessing that the answer is actually short and steady is really what matters to a boy in this circumstance.
Absolutely, absolutely. And that's what really takes the pressure off of the mom, right? It doesn't have to be these long conversations.
It really can be along the way, so to speak, as you're doing life with your son, but just doing it with an intentionality that you're building this connection and that you're showing the power of the presence and how it can transform your relationship with your son. And you're going to need that later in life when he starts to really want to pull away. These investments that you make now are going to be the ones that are significant deposits that you're going to have to make withdrawals against later in life. And so make those small deposits today and the interest will grow over time, just like in an investment account. And that's really what we want to encourage them to do.
I could tell you went to Wharton. Hey, let's end here again. I mentioned this last time just about a woman's incredible capacity to carry the burden, feel the load, sometimes even spilling into unwarranted guilt, but they just are capable of that. And I think, again, men, we tend to shrug that off on the other guy.
You know, that's his problem. But in that respect, speak to the mom who may be overwhelmed with that guilt or worry about her 1314 17 year old son who maybe these things have not been done or she can't connect with him anymore because he doesn't want to be at home or whatever the the behavior is. But what can she do to maybe get that relationship moving in a better direction? Well, the first thing really is prayer. You know, prayer can break through walls can break through anything. And so many of the single moms that I interviewed for the book, the power of prayer was central, and they went through ups and downs with their sons, and sometimes their sons were blaming them for the father's absence. Sometimes their sons were kind of pulling away all that. And one of the consistent things that I heard throughout every single one of these moms was that they prayed, and the power of prayer for your son.
So you feel like what I'm helpless, actually, you're not, you have prayer, and you can always pray, and God will work through situations will work through people. And I think the other thing, too, there's always an opportunity for a reset. Even if you didn't do some of the things that you thought that you needed to do, the reality is, is that God still can use the second chances and this reset for you to be able to do that. And you can start having those conversations again, by by building those relationships in the context that you have in the moments that you have have with your son. Well, and this has been so good. I mean, this book is full of great wisdom for all parents, actually, but particularly those single parent moms to raise their sons of promise. And you've done a wonderful job.
I know you had to live it. I hope you, like me, will say, hey, God gave us this path. We want to honor the Lord with the life he's given us and help as many people around us as possible.
I know that's your heart and it's my heart, too. And man, if you are in this space or you know somebody in your sphere of influence that is a single parent mom, get them a copy of this book. And the best way to do it is let's just do ministry together. If you can make a gift of any amount, we'll send it as our way of saying thank you. And that way you're also pouring into the ministry here at Focus.
We don't pay shareholders a dividend. So, you know, all those proceeds go right back into ministry. So do that. If you do it on a monthly basis, that really helps us. If you can't afford it, if you're that single mom, like my mom, like Roland's mom, just get in touch with us. We're going to trust that others will cover the cost of that. We want to get this book into your hands. And in addition to the book, we have counseling services. We'd be happy to connect you with one of our caring Christian counselors for a free phone consultation. We're a phone call away, 800, the letter A in the word family, or stop by the episode notes for all the details. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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