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5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Single Mom

  • Pam Kanaly Co-founder, Arise Ministries
  • Updated Mar 05, 2024
5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Single Mom

Being a single mom can feel like you’re walking through a minefield. Around every curve lurks the danger of another explosion of some sort. After all, when you’re the cook, the cleaner, the taxi driver, and everything else, there’s lots of room for wise parenting to be overlooked.

That’s why it’s good to occasionally have a simple reminder of the underground traps that can hurt those you love. Although it doesn’t take much to avoid them, the first step is recognizing them. In a survey taken among 200 single moms, four issues surfaced as imminent dangers in the home. Do any of these ring a bell?

1. Failing to provide a safe place.

Is your home a nontoxic environment for your child to share their deepest feelings, even if they know it will hurt your feelings? Can they tell you they don’t like your rules? Can they express that the death of their daddy makes them mad at God? Can they tell you that your remarks in front of their friends embarrasses them? Can they say they don’t like your boyfriend? Part of their healing is being able to share what’s buried under the rubble. They need to know they can tell you anything and that you will be patient and listen, not bark back, and let them express what’s real to them. This might be a great time for a counselor to help.

2. Spewing unresolved emotions. 

What do you say when the hard questions come? Do your react out of your emotions? Do you stop and think before you speak? I remember when my son was four and I was new single mother. Out of nowhere one time he asked, “Mom, do you still love dad?” I wanted to say, Yes… but no! He hurt us! But I waited, held my tongue and then responded, “Jason, he’s your dad. I’ll always love him in a special way.” Now my son is an adult, and he reminded me of those words just a few days ago. I was shocked. While I had totally forgotten about that conversation, he had remembered.

3. Leading an unprincipled life.

How do you handle these all-encompassing categories: finances, parenting, emotional support, and spiritual growth? If we have not planned beforehand a clear path, it’s easy to wing it and push through these areas without a goal in mind. It leaves one frustrated, driven, and tossed by their unstable thoughts. It’s difficult not only on the mom but also the children. They never know which mom they’re going to get. Everyone needs an accountability partner to help them see the blind spots. Have you thought about finding a trusted, godly friend who would serve in that role? We all need someone to keep us honest and move us forward on God’s path. 

4. Failing to be the imitator of Christ. 

What’s your primary role as a mom? Most mothers would say, “I’m the sole provider.” Others might mention their main job was to serve as the disciplinarian, the protector, or the comforter. Yet nothing is more long-lasting than being an imitator—the one who models what it looks like to keep Christ first, accept criticism well, and be patient when wronged. We forget that the kids are watching, listening to our tone of voice, choice of words, actions, priorities, and attitudes. It’s a tall order to model well, but we don’t have to do it alone. When we call on the Holy Spirit within us, He tempers our moods and fills us with all we need to mother well. We can be purposeful in our modeling. 

5. Filling your emptiness with the wrong thing.  

What do you do when you’re lonely, sad, guilt-ridden, or angry? Where do you turn to take the edge off the pain? When single moms have not taken the time to properly heal their hurts, it’s easy to fill that void prematurely with these cotton candy solutions: another relationship, excessive eating, drinking, shopping, TV watching, or exercising. While it “feels” good because it dulls the pain, when it wears off, the discomfort is twice what it was at the beginning. The only answer in filling that empty void is pressing into your relationship with Jesus Christ. He alone is the one who gives purpose and prospers our difficulties toward a higher gain. 

It doesn’t take much to disarm a land mine. Just step around it. Call on Christ for help and head in the opposite direction.

Pam Kanaly, selected as National Mother of Achievement – 2015 - in Washington, DC, and best-selling author of The Single Mom and Her Rollercoaster Emotions, remains one of the nation’s leading advocates for single mothers. She is the co-founder of the national organization Arise Ministries bringing encouragement to single mothers worldwide through their online education center: EQUIP. Pam is a favorite in Oklahoma having been nominated by the Governor for Oklahoma Mother Making a Difference. Pam and her husband Rich reside in Edmond, Oklahoma. Visit and download the FREE Arise Ministries app.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/AVI stock

Publication date: March 16, 2017