"I'm not your friend anymore."


My 13-year-old son hurled these words at me recently when I said no to buying something for him. His statement was intended to hurt me, but I found a vague sense of comfort in it. "You're right," I replied. "I'm not your friend. I'm your mother. My decision stands."


As a single parent for 10 years, during which time my two boys grew from toddlers to teens, I struggled to be a firm disciplinarian while simultaneously needing affirmation from my children that I was a kind and loving parent. After all, I was rejected by my spouse. Seeing the anger or disappointment in my children's eyes when I made an unpopular decision brought on more feelings of rejection. But as I began to see positive results from disciplining my boys with wisdom and consistency, I knew the effort was worth it.


In 1 Samuel 3:11-13, God holds Eli the priest responsible for his wayward sons: "I [will] judge his family forever because of the sin [Eli] knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them."


The sons' sinful behavior led to their death (and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant), and Eli died shortly afterward. Here is an example of a family destroyed because children were not disciplined.


In stark contrast to Eli and his sons are Timothy, his mother and grandmother. In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul writes that Timothy's sincere faith was passed down to him from their teaching. We know nothing of Timothy's father, but we know that Timothy's mother and grandmother implemented his childhood spiritual training. They laid the foundation that allowed him to become a remarkable man of God and church leader.


Eli's sons and Timothy show us that children must have reasonable, consistent discipline to help them achieve emotional maturity and enjoy success in all areas of their lives. Our influence on our children directly impacts how they will behave as adults.


The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love


Being a good parent involves putting our children's needs above our own (including our "need" to be popular or to have a life of leisure). It involves sacrifice. Single parenting seems especially difficult as exhaustion is part of the deal, which can lead to a parent's overreacting to certain circumstances or underreacting, hoping that if she ignores the problem it will go away.


Also, because single parents are overloaded with making a living and parenting, they may project unrealistic expectations of how their children should behave. Expecting a 4-year-old to fix her own breakfast and get herself ready for preschool is unrealistic, even if you're running short on time. Unless you give your child priority over your crowded schedule, you'll both end up angry and frustrated.