To Mom or Not to Mom?

“My stomach hurts.”


“I don’t want to practice my saxophone anymore.”


“Can I have a friend come over? I’ll clean my room later.”


“What’s for lunch?”

These are pretty straight forward statements and questions. But not always an easy response. I’ve noticed that I have to pause a moment to think–and wish Carrie were here–about which role is best for my pre-teen son in this instance of this concern or question. Do I say “stop your bellyaching and get back to work” or begin checking for appendicitis? Is it “fix your own lunch” or “what would you like”? Parenting, I am convinced, takes both roles to get it right. There are times when expressive approach or nurture is required. There are other times a proverbial swift kick in the pants, the instrumental approach, is needed.

When there were two of us we could quickly bounce the situation off each other and decide which route was best in each situation. Now, as a widowed father, that luxury is gone. In a broad sense good parenting and raising healthy kids takes clear boundaries and support. Clear boundaries, in simplistic terms, may be thought of as the rules and regulations which must be followed. Support is being a cheerleader, being emotionally involved.

It takes both of these approaches but sometimes it is hard to remember it takes both. Sometimes it’s the thought that my “widowhood” means he is “motherless” so it is easy to give in or make his life easy. (I suspect that divorced single parents struggle with this issue also) I do believe there is a limited place for that in our circumstances but limited is the key word. It is important to remember that I am still parenting, preparing him to be a functioning, and responsible adult. I think the real battle is not to over indulge. Nor can I make him the center of my life…but that’s probably another post another day. I must try to teach him life’s lessons before he reaches adulthood at the ripe old age of 18. This means I still must be intentional in setting boundaries, assigning chores, and insisting on the development the proper attitudes then I must follow through by doing the hard part of enforcing them. (see article:Adolescent Developmental Milestones) All of this while I support him, encourage him, get in the trenches with him, and demonstrate my love along the way. In short, I must be the parent …or both parents in this case.

With these thoughts I’ll have to close for now… parenthood is calling. The boy wants to know what’s for breakfast. I haven’t decided… fix it yourself or what would you like.

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9 thoughts on “To Mom or Not to Mom?

  1. You are writing what most if not ALL parents think…whether single, widowed or married…just know OUR FATHER will pull us through as we help our own children learn life lessons with love and guidance! Calgon…take me away! 🙂

  2. i know many single parents raising their children….Some results have been very good and others not so good…It is extremely challenging to be a single parent….Keep lines of communication open and ask God for wisdom. Resources such as the one you mentioned are helpful….Setting boundaries for your children is something they need and for you as a parent as well….it help to teach them responsibility and that all choices have consequences….May God help you as you wrestle with the question, To Mom or not to Mom? and apply the right answers in each scenario….
    MIKE

  3. LOL Mom here would be saying “Fix it yourself and be sure to put everything away” That won’t happen so Mom will do the clean up, lol again that’s how it went when my son was that age…He turned out pretty good!!

  4. Jeff,
    I do not know you. However, you sent an anniversary letter to InSearchof – which I was introduced to this year as a Premier Jeweler. Thus, I ran upon your blog and simply wanted to encourage you in the Lord. As HE is a father to the fatherless, I believe is a mother to the motherless. And as HE is the husband to the single women, He will be to
    you what you need. Apart from Him, we are all nothing and unable to be what we need to be. May I encourage to remain on Him and Cling to Him. You are not called to be a perfect father- but what a testimony you show your son when you ” cling” to the “perfect Father”. I pray He comforts you both today. May we as the body of Christ remember to encourage you in the Lord.

    1. Thank you Rhonda! I am encouraged. God is always faithful–even when things are not as pleasant. I have witnessed His faithfulness, His grace, His provision throughout the time of Carrie’s illness, death, and now into widowhood. Since you are new I would encourage you to read through the http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/carriejohnson blog from the beginning to see His interaction throughout and, if I do say so myself, an amazing love story through a terminal illness. Thanks again!!

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