Last weekend, I attended a Solo Parents Retreat facilitated by CCF’s KSP or Kool Solo Parents Ministry. It was the first Christian retreat I attended since I became a mother and follower of Jesus.
As a first-time parent and a solo one at that, I am constantly searching and seeking to learn and gain more wisdom as a parent —whether it be in books, talks or retreats. In this Power of The One weekend, our goal was how to successfully parent, and that is by anchoring on the love of Jesus.
That in order for us to secure our children in love— in true, selfless, unconditional, sacrificial, patient and gentle love —we must first receive this love of Jesus. For certainly we cannot give what we do not have. 1 John 4:19 says “We love because He first loved us.”
The retreat encouraged, empowered and equipped me to become an even better mother to my one and only. Today allow me to impart with you realizations and revelations I gained in the two-day seminar.
Parenting is a calling. I do know that parenting my child is my top priority. I am well aware of my role and obligations but I never perceived parenting as a calling until November 19, 2016.
This realization gave my role a new dimension, and a deeper meaning—a more child-centered and child-inclined orientation. That my being a parent must never be taken lightly. How do I know it is a calling or my calling? By the fact that I was blessed, gifted and rewarded a child.
And because being a parent is a calling, every parent, especially the solo ones must embrace this calling – regardless of the way the Lord chose for them to become one. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1 that we must lead a life worth of our calling for we have been called by God.
Whatever your calling is, live it out and live worthy of it.
Prioritize your role as a parent. If you are a solo parent like me, the order of your priorities must be God first, children next (because you don’t have a spouse), then work and finally, ministry.
Prioritizing means putting your children’s needs first – above everything else, above your desires and even before work and others. That when your child needs you, especially if you are the only parent they have, you must drop everything because your child needs you.
Relationship must always be chosen over responsibilities. As a parent, your relationship with your child must be chosen and rechosen daily because there will always be things, other people and instances that will take you away from your child, such as decisions and distractions. Work, social media, friends, love interest, other family members etc. may rob you off of your focus from your children and over time can cause you to drift from them.
When you are a single parent, your responsibilities can be quite overwhelming since you are also the provider. Do not be tempted to put those before your children. Again, remember that you are your child’s only parent. Money can be earned. But time lost with your child can never be bought back. And truthfully speaking, at the end of the day, you know that what your child needs is you, not money but mama.
Our head facilitator Bobbie Jean Barretto who is a widow for 20 years now and raised 4 children all by herself shared with us how she managed to explain to her children when they were much younger when they want something outside of their budget. She said that she makes them choose: “More mama, less money or more money, less mama?” Her kids always chose mama. For sure, our kids would, too.
Why then you ask is relationship a priority? Really, over providing for your children in order to sustain their needs and secure their future? Don’t we work for our children anyway? Well it’s because you cannot effectively parent without relationship. You cannot teach nor influence the behavior and choices of your children if you do not walk closely with them (Heart Parenting principle).
One way to build that relationship with your children, especially in a solo parent home is to include them in making decision— consider their feelings and preferences.
Definitely, spending time cultivates any relationship. Spending not just quality time but doing so frequently is best. Often working parents value quality time over quantity. But in the case of solo parents, it must be both—100% attention, 100% availability. That when your child calls you, seeks for your attention, whatever it is you are preoccupied with, if it may wait, let it wait.
Because time with your child should not. That is what priority means.
Finally, my greatest takeaway was when I was reminded through the retreat that I may be a solo parent but that does not mean I need to be two people in a single body. The Lord reassured me that He is the Father. He is both mine and Gummy’s Father. He comforted me by the words: “You focus on being the mother and let Me be The Father. Let me provide for you.”
It is always a great feeling to learn from the wisdom and experience of others. Should there be a next retreat, I will post the details here for all parents to join.