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Speaking the Love Languages in Single-Parent Families
Being a single-parent comes with a number of challenges that, from the eyes and mind of the child, may be interpreted as lack or loss of love. Take for instance a woman who brings forth a child after being raped by a stranger. Not only does she not know her abuser, she feels a surge of hatred for him. If she is a Christian, she wants very much not to pass on the blame to this lovely gift but, through the pregnancy as the “uninvited” seed grew and now that she has to nurture the child, she sees nothing but pain and anger especially when she looks into the eyes of this child who may be a replica of her father, the abuser.
Another example would be a woman who after going through divorce discovers she is pregnant. Though all ties have been severed from her ex-husband, she now has to carry the seed he sowed in her to full term and nurture the child alone. To get any benefit, she has to go through the legal system and cope with the challenge of her ex-husband insisting on a paternity test after which, if confirmed, she has to through a legal counsel demand, fight, for all she can get to support this child she would rather not have. If the paternity test is negative, she would have to endure the shame as her secrets become public knowledge as she searches out the child’s real father. I volunteer for an abuse program; on one of my visits to a Foster Mum she quoted the biological Mum as saying, “I never thought my life will end like this with two children and no husband at this young age.”
At 22, she had suffered the loss of her first child’s dad and has to live with rejection from the second child’s dad. Despite her pain, her financial incapability and lack of educational qualification, she has to wrestle the government to regain custody of her children. How well can such a woman speak the love languages without passing on the hatred she feels, for those responsible for her situation, to her children?
Another example will be a high flyer Dad whose wife was responsible for everything – nurturing of children, management of the home, grocery shopping, food, laundry etc and he just blesses God for such a wonderful wife who has made it possible for him to make money far away from home without fear that his family will come to ruin. But one day he received a call that his wife was in an accident with their second child and they did not survive it. First he feels guilty that it happened because he was not there, he feels a sense of great loss as his 4-person family is suddenly reduced to 2; to make matters worse, he has to plan a burial not the 5th birthday of the first child for which he was looking forward to being around so he can really let her know that though Dad works out of town, he loves her so much. To be there for the remaining child, he had to relocate back to town, even though that meant getting a lower paying job, sign up for a parenting class and employ a nanny to help him with picking her from school and engaging her till he returns from work. Three months down the line, he is thankful to God and his church family for helping him to cope with the great loss but now he has to deal with friends and family who seem to have closed that chapter of his life as they begin talks about him taking another wife since he needs a companion and help with raising the remaining child.
In all the above situations, it is very difficult for the parent and of course the child(ren) not to have a feeling of fear, anger, anxiety, denial, blame in varying degrees. It would be more challenging for a single-parent to use a child’s primary love language to help alleviate the pain. But it can be done if the single-parent looks up to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Through diligence, dedication, Godly character; a single-parent would succeed.
Year in, year out, a single-parent must audit his/her role in the life of the child, improve his/her strengths, seek opportunities to give the child a father or mother figure, as the case may be, eradicate the threat that may come to the parent or the child by virtue of being a single-parent family and work on his/her weakness to translate them into strengths. Not having a job may be a weakness for a single family as there is only one source of income but where such parent takes advantage of food stamps, open kitchen, available low income jobs (cleaner, clerk, grocery shopper etc) and free community education centers, s/he can prepare for a better future.
Also joining a church community will expand the pool from which the child can draw communal love (God Parents, Teachers, Pastors etc), positive leadership influence and role models. While fulfilling a child’s need for love, the single-parent must not mortgage his/her need for love because seeing you loving and being loved will go a long way to balance love in the life of the child. If a single-parent’s child’s primary love language is act of service, enlisting the child in the Scout Group and being a part of the activities will go a long way to fill the emotional tank of the parent and increase the resource pool from which s/he can draw strength, stability, unity and love.
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