For many children, the most important role models are their parents and caregivers because they help shape how they behave in school, relationships, or when making difficult decisions. As single parents, we can easily discredit ourselves as our children’s role models. Your child does not see the flaws you see in yourself (well, not until they become adults) and even so, they will most often be gracious to you because of the sacrifices you would have made for them.
One of the deceptions is that your child(ren) would look up to you if you were with your spouse. While I am not encouraging single parenthood by choice, the truth is that a child’s love is often unconditional and impartial. Be prepared though that no matter how much you try or work hard to provide for your child, they might say something mean to you that can set you behind emotionally. Don’t fret about it, even in both parents homes, kids are likely to say such things.
One of our family friends came to visit us with their young kids. Their son was misbehaving so the mom corrected him but he did not listen. This prompted the husband to step in so he spanked the boy. After he finished crying, he came to the father and told him (in front of all of us), “Daddy you are not a good person, you don’t have Jesus in your heart.” Though it was so hilarious, those were mean words coming from a son to his father. It does not mean that the child is wicked, or the father was wrong or even that there was no love in that home. It means that there is folly in the child’s heart and it needed to be removed with a rod of correction.
This is to encourage you that if your child does say or do something mean to you, it’s not because you are a single parent. It will likely be because they are a child and are meant to be childish until they are corrected towards righteousness.
We should be the models for our children in speech and in deeds as well. Let them see first hand from us how life should be tackled – making sure that we walk the talk. The single most important aspect of being our children’s role models is to always say what we mean and mean what we say. We should back up our words with visible and concrete action and be people of integrity and value because actions speak volumes.
We should also incorporate prayer life and reading the Word of God together so that we can ground them in the right foundation. If we are struggling to do this by ourselves, we should find a group that has a structure that can hold us accountable.
One of the things that helped me be a role model for my daughter was a regular habit to get out in our community with her and volunteering our time and talents. It helped us to build family unity, teamwork skills, and most of all, generous and serving hearts. Volunteering in various ventures helped me teach my daughter to meet the needs of others – a trait she holds dear to date as a young adult.
Let us also learn to be open to our children and not hide who we are as a person. We should share our past experiences when it is age appropriate: mistakes and victories all included. While we might not explain all the intricate details of our life, we should share enough to show them that vulnerability is a virtue that comes from a position of strength. These will be some of the virtues they will carry on to their adult life.