My children were just babies when my husband, David, was killed in a head-on collision. Ben had just turned 2, and Katherine was only 3 months old.
I was worried sick about how the lack of a father would affect them, mainly because of all the articles and research I read about the importance of having a father. But there was also a more personal reason for my fears. David’s father was also killed in a car accident when David was 2, and he and his baby sister were raised by their widowed mother who never remarried.
Just a few days before David died, we had a conversation in which he made me promise that if anything ever happened to him, I would get married again. He wanted his kids to have a father even if it wasn’t him.
After taking a year to grieve, to honor David’s wishes I began a man hunt to find just the right person for my kids. David’s mother and sister were also aware of David’s wishes, and they did their best to find a suitable man for the job. Over the course of three years, they set me up with four or five different guys who didn’t work out.
It was all I thought about. Every time my children went through a difficult phase I worried that it was a result of their fatherless existence. I wondered how this lack of male role model affected their confidence, stability, and self-discipline.
I grieved for Katherine, who never really knew David, and I grieved for Ben, who seemed to need him so badly. I shed tears day and night, praying desperately that God would honor David’s request and bring a loving father to his little babies.
God, the perfect Father
One night I was crying, asking God why He hadn’t yet given my children the father they needed, and He said to me, “Sabrina, I amtheir Father.”
It had never occurred to me that my children had all the father they needed. Actually, they had the perfectFather. He was the best role model they could have, and the only one who could love them with a perfect love. All I had to do was point my children to God for their needs.
I immediately recalled the story of the people of Israel when they called out to the prophet Samuel that they wanted a king. To this point, the people had been ruled by God using whatever judge He chose. But the people cried out, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19).
Samuel tried to tell the people that Jehovah was all they needed, but in God’s patient mercy, He told Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7).
The truth is that even though an earthly father is a good thing, just as David’s reign as king was good, we must not believe that the health of our children is in a man’s hands. Those kids belong to God … He is the best father they could possibly have.
A man won’t solve all your problems—even the right kind of man. No matter how great a guy is, he’s going to be flawed. He’s going to annoy you and disappoint you from time to time, but our Father God will never disappoint you. His ways are always perfect.
Focus on God
There are many ways that children connect with a father as they find their place in a family, and a single mom is wise to pinpoint these different aspects and purposefully point the children to God to find fulfillment in these areas, whether or not she remarries.
Your children carry a family name that belongs to their father. There’s a sense of identity there, but when their father is dead or estranged or even away from the children in a different household, they begin to wonder how to carry the name of a person they know very little or nothing about. The name can come to symbolize a child’s abandonment or his identity as a lost person, one who lives between two lives.
But when you show your children their identity in Christ and emphasize their place as God’s son or daughter, then they don’t need to be concerned with how their name fits in, because they can look to their father God for their family ties. In Revelation 3:12 Jesus says, “The one who conquers… I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God out of heaven, and my own new name.”
As believers, we are given the name of God! In the end, we will all belong to one family name—God’s family.
Children need love from a father—the unconditional love that shows familial pride. Every child needs to feel accepted by his father, knowing that no matter how badly he messes up, he will always be loved.
When there is no father to show this kind of love, children can feel unstable, like a wanderer with no place to call home. As a single mom you must show your children God’s unconditional love. Read them Scriptures about the love and mercy of God. Read them the story of the prodigal son. Show them that Jesus died so there could be this kind of love from God.
Children know from the day they are born that home is where they belong—this is the family, which is different from friends, as loving as they are, and strangers.
In the same way, a Christian’s family is the church—God’s family. Remind your children that they belong in the family of God. They can find mentors and teachers; they can find compassion and comradery. There are men in the church who can show them how a godly man’s life is lived out, something they need to see with their own eyes. And if you don’t show them through the men in the church, your children will learn from movies and the internet.
There are certain ideas passed down by a father that a mother simply cannot teach. Mothers have a different type of legacy to leave that the children will pass down to their children, but the father’s legacy to his children is unique. For example, boys learn how a man treats other men and women, and a girl learns how a woman should be treated by a man.
When you teach your children to embrace their legacy from God, they look to His behaviors and worldview. They look to God’s Word and mirror His Son, Jesus. And when you emphasize the importance of their responsibility to uphold those family legacies, they will learn to pass that down to their children.
The wise single mom looks to God, not a mortal man, to fix her problems and be the answer for her kids. Your kids simply need you to point them to the One who can reach into their souls, heal their broken hearts, and love them unconditionally, and that’s Jesus Christ. He will never leave them nor forsake them, no matter how their earthly father is, and He’ll be there for them forever and ever.
Copyright © 2016 by Sabrina Beasley McDonald. Used with permission.