LAST week we started a three-week series with a friend of mine who suddenly lost her husband and has been thrown into single parenting. I believe the lessons she is learning are helpful to many, so I have invited her to share some of her journey with us. Gracious is an E coach in South Africa. You can contact her on this website, courses.knowinggod.co.za
On my late husband’s funeral, I gave a challenge, “My kids will need a father!” I know for sure this statement could have been taken and still can be taken otherwise but hear it from the horse’s mouth, I literally meant that. It was an honest cry to God, and I am humbled how God answered! My late husband was not perfect, but he was a great father, not just to his own biological kids but to other kids as well especially those who had no fathers. From a psychological point of view, boys do miss a lot when their fathers are not present, and I did not want that for my two boys (of course not forgetting the two girls as well). From a cultural perspective (like my Shona culture), one can argue and say the role of a father is automatically assumed by a brother and in my case for sure that is true. However, I stay in a foreign land and sometimes people might be staying in different cities. For some single moms who have gone through divorce, the dads are absent, hence the cry “will you help father the fatherless”.
When I gave the challenge, a couple took the challenge, prayed about it, and decided to step up. We did not know each other much; except seeing each other at church, bumping into each other at malls etc. I must confess, I never expected that much but God has proved that indeed He fathers the fatherless. It is my prayer that many will be challenged and will rise and take up the challenge.
Assuming the father figure role requires husband and wife to be on the same page. It is a lifelong commitment. It is a great ministry, a ministry that has great impact. When you assume the father figure role, know that you are being intentional about helping build strong families, (not just your own marriage and kids) in a unique way.
Here are some practical steps that can be taken by any couple about to play the role of a father figure (same principles can apply to those who want to play mother figures as well!)
The first step that is so crucial in my opinion is to pray as husband and wife. Be sure that the Lord is leading you to play the role and then make a commitment. I am confident of the fact that what God starts or initiates, He sustains and accomplishes, Phil 1vs6 and Acts 5vs39. God enables, He empowers, and His grace is sufficient for any assignment. He lays on your heart! Never allow emotions (either because someone has lost their father, or a friend is going through divorce and you see them tearing apart) and never be quick to commit to this role because it is a lifelong commitment. The last thing is to break the hearts of kids after one realises how costly it is. When I say costly, I do not mean just the financial implications. It takes your time, energy, and great compromise as one tries to accommodate each child’s personality and needs as well-balancing with your own biological kids.
Publicly declare that you are playing the father figure and allow them to call you dad. Yes, the kids will know for sure that you are not the biological father, my four kids ranging from eleven years to four years know how to do that. However, they love the fact that they can still call someone dad and still receive love, affection and be who they are. I shared in my first article how my nine-year-old recently told me that he feels so secure and cool because he can still call someone dad. Imagine how many kids are feeling insecure.
Decide how you are going to play the role, come up with a strategy/plan: how many visits per week, calls, special dates to remember and how to make them memorable, invite them for sleepovers, for meals and make time to talk with them on a one-to-one basis. There must be some consistency to be effective.
These basic steps will make a huge difference. Challenges will come but one thing I know is no matter what you do in life, there are always challenges. The main issue is how you respond to challenges and remain focused on the main goal. Above all, we trust God to guide and lead.
Will you commit to father those that are fatherless as we raise the next generation of fathers who will do the same?