Deal with undesirable friends and unhealthy attachments by calmly and gently explaining your concerns to your children and setting boundaries such as limiting or prohibiting contact with certain people. Deal with same-sex attraction by making sure there is at least one positive male role model in your children’s lives, with whom they have a close relationship; protecting your children from sexual abuse from any men you date; and making sure that you don’t become too controlling or overpowering of a presence in your home.

Deal with deception, dishonesty, and signs of bad character by making sacrifices to free up more time to spend with your children and personally nurture deeper spiritual growth in their lives; and by living with integrity yourself to set a healthy example for your children. Deal with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll by regularly engaging in honest conversations about these issues with your children; discussing your concerns with other parents, youth leaders, etc.; and listen to your children’s music with them and discuss what the artists are saying through their songs.

Be sure to express unconditional love for your children, no matter what. Deal with rage and rebellion by honestly facing how you have contributed to your children’s anger (such as through your divorce or relationship with someone else), inviting your children to tell you how your own attitudes and behaviors have affected them, and relying on God’s help to make necessary changes. Deal with self-destructive behavior like self-mutilation or suicide threats by taking them seriously and seeking immediate professional help for your children from your pastor, doctor, family counselor, school counselor, etc.

Demonstrate love and respect for your children. Show your children that you love them unconditionally – that they are more important to you than any issue. Respect them as people, remembering that they have a lot of innate wisdom even though they lack as much experience as you.

Pray with your children. Make a habit of praying with your children about specific family needs.

Affirm God’s purpose for your children’s lives. Communicate clearly to each child that he or she is uniquely, intentionally created in God’s image and is strategic and important to Him.

Set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your children whenever it’s appropriate.

Demonstrate respect for your children’s father. Let your children see your treating their father well, as God calls you to treat everyone well. If possible, work with him to present a united front in your parenting decisions.

Be humble. Openly and sincerely acknowledge and apologize for bad decisions and overreactions.

Communicate well. Be clear and open when talking with your children, listen carefully to them, and use respectful language when you speak.

Allow your children to be children. Don’t dump your emotions on your children or become emotionally dependent on them for support. Use discretion when talking with them; don’t tell them things they’re not really old enough to hear (such as your dating experiences). Find other adults with whom you can freely share your emotions, but retain your dignity with your children.

Celebrate often. Applaud your family’s accomplishments, answered prayers, good news, extra efforts, milestones, etc.

Discourage sibling rivalry. Make sure all your children understand that you love them equally, and encourage them to make peace with each other.

Choose your battles wisely. Focus on what is most important to you and let the rest go.

Make your home a safe haven. Discourage fighting in your home and encourage peaceful relationships.

Find the right balance between permissiveness and control. Ask, but don’t pry. Be alert, but not a snoop.

Prepare to let go of your children. Remember that your parenting goal should be for each of your children to live healthy, independent lives as adults.

Keep on praying. Pray often for your children, remembering that prayer is the most powerful force in the world. Expect God to answer each of your prayers, intervening on behalf of you and your children. Praise Him for who He is and how He answers your prayers. Rest in the peace God will give you.

Adapted from On Our Own: Help and Hope for Single Moms, copyright 2007 by Lela Gilbert. Published by NavPress, Colorado Springs, Co.,  

Lela Gilbert has authored or coauthored more than 60 books, including the award-winning Their Blood Cries Out. Her work has involved travel to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Lela is the single mother of two sons and resides in Southern California.