The Seasons of Single Parenting
- Linda Ranson Jacobs DC4K Director, Church Initiative
- 2004 19 Nov
As we think about the four seasons, we think about the changes the earth experiences.
It's hot in the summer, cold in the winter. Plants blossom and bloom in the spring; they die or go dormant in the fall. In order for the earth to survive the changes from one season to the next, there are processes that have to take place. Isn't that a lot like single parenting? In order for a single-parent home to survive the transition from what was, to what is, to what is to come, changes have to take place.
Have you noticed the weather forecasters don't have control over the weather? They can study weather patterns, fronts, and jet streams, but they cannot guarantee the weather for tomorrow. As a single parent, you don't have total control over your children's lives either. You may have to share your child with the other parent. If you work full-time, you have to share your child with caregivers. But unlike the weathermen, who can't promise whether it's going to rain or the sun will shine tomorrow, you can make a commitment to take control of your feelings, actions, and attitudes.
Parenting children involves many seasons, but the difference in single parenting is that single parents experience each season so intensely because they are going it alone. When I became a single parent, I lived in Oklahoma right in the middle of tornado alley. One month after I became a single parent, my children and I experienced a tornado. I will always remember the awesome responsibility and the fear I felt during that storm. How could I parent two children all by myself? How could I keep them safe? How was I going to protect them? How were we going to survive this tornado?
When the tornado finally was over, I made sure my children were safe at school. Then I discovered some damage due to the high winds. At first all I could do was fume and spout and sputter. But this didn't repair the damage. Only when I changed my attitude, and I looked at things differently did things change.
Tornados can do some weird things. This tornado had stripped the bark off of one side of all the trees. Several days later, as I was picking up the bark, I realized someone could use this bark. For several months after that, children in a school-age child care program used the bark for nature and art projects. At home, we got things fixed and eventually life returned to a "new normal." I say "new normal" because we were entering into another season in our family.
During each new season we encounter different types of weather. Take a moment to think about how people talk about the weather during a particular season. Think about their attitudes. Some people approach the middle of summer focusing on the dryness and heat of a sweltering hot day. They could just as likely contemplate the squeals of laughter as children run through a sprinkler, take a walk on the beach, or go swimming at the local pool. We could think about the seasons of dryness in raising children alone; we could liken it to the fall and the dying grass, the wilting flowers, and the leaves falling off the trees, or we could think of the beauty in the fall colors, the pumpkins, and the traditions that lead us into winter.
Winter can chill you to the bone, but there's beauty there, too. Think of a cold crisp morning when you walk out and feel exhilarated, or when you take a moment to snuggle up in a blanket on a snowy day and read a book to your children. As the Word of God says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). As you go through the seasons in parenting children alone, stop and create new activities in the form of rituals and new traditions to fit the new season, the "new normal."
Whatever the season -- summer, fall, winter, spring -- one can find beauty, serenity, exhilaration, and new growth. As with the seasons of single parenting, you may be screaming, "I can't do this. That jerk left me with these kids. It's not fair." You are so right about it not being fair. It's not fair, so what are you going to do about it? You can step back, change your attitude, and enjoy the moment -- seize the season.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23). Even when you are a single parent, you are never alone. God is faithful and His mercies are new every single morning, no matter what season.
Linda Ranson Jacobs can be contacted at
For information on obtaining DivorceCare for Kids, a program designed to help children of divorce, call 1-800-489-7778 or go to www.DC4K.org.
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