The worries we carry for our children are almost too numerous to count.
Time with the other parent
I watch as their car drives off. My child waves madly out the window, big smile on their face. I smile and wave back, hiding the tears that threaten to fall. It’s been months since my ex chose to actually use their visitation rights, but for some reason they’ve shown up this time. As the car disappears down the street, silence settles around me, and with it comes worry.
Our children’s experiences at school and with their friends
My child is no longer happy when they get out of the car for school. They walk head down, feet dragging. They tell me they’re being bullied at school, and though I’ve complained multiple times, nothing seems to change. As I watch the school doors close behind them, I silently pray that today they will be safe, and I wonder if I could manage to home school.
The things they see, hear and feel
We are watching TV, and something inappropriate begins on the program, I quickly turn the channel. “Sorry, Kiddo. We’ll come back to the show after that stuff is over.” They tell me it’s okay, they’ve seen much worse or scarier or violent at their friend’s or with my ex. Inside I begin to panic, and I worry about the safety of their mind and soul.
Launching them out into the world
They’re driving now. They even have a part-time job to cover their meager expenses. Every time they get behind the wheel, I worry about whether this is the night they get in a crash. Then my mind spirals. Soon they’ll be graduating, heading off into the world. Have I done enough to prepare them spiritually? Are they ready for this? Will they be safe? Will they ever come visit me?
Single parents have some very unique worries
Almost every parent worries. Almost every parent has times of nervously waiting, hoping and praying their child is safe. Scripture tells us that even Jesus’s parents worried when he went off to the temple without telling them. Too often, though, single parents have no one to share their worries with, no one who is breathlessly waiting with them for their child to be back home safe. No one to share the pressures of fear and anxiety, to help them pray when the words won’t come and only tears fall. We don’t have anyone to keep us from assuming the cough we hear must be pneumonia, or the disappointment in our child’s eyes must mean depression. We don’t have anyone to help us answer questions of why people are mean or why they hurt us. All we have left is the best thing, prayer.
Pray with Us
“O God, our heavenly Father, who loves mankind and are most merciful and compassionate, have mercy on Your servants (insert children’s names), for whom we humbly pray and whom we commend to Your gracious care and protection. Be their guide and guardian in all their endeavors, O God, lead them in the way of Your truth, and draw them nearer to You, that they may lead a godly and righteous life in love and fear of You, doing Your will in all things. Give them grace to be temperate, industrious, diligent, devout, and charitable. Defend them against the wiles of the enemy, grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption, and lead them in the way of salvation. Through the compassion of Your Only-begotten Son, with whom You are blessed, together with Your All-holy, Good, and Life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages.
AMEN. (prayer from The Ancient Faith Prayer Book)
How you can help
- Ask about visitation times, then take us out for coffee or lunch while the kid(s) are gone. While there, listen to our concerns without judgment.
- Offer to run errands, help with chores, etc. while the kids are away.
- Literally pray with us, as in in-person together.
- Notes of encouragement, or small gifts for both parent and child(ren) help remind us we are not alone.
- Be a consistent friend, even if it takes a while, or feels like it does, for them to accept your friendship.
Join the Conversation
Elise and I, as well as our larger church family and other single parents, would love to hear about how you deal with worrying about your children’s safety. What prayers do you say for your children? Which saints do you turn to asking for prayers? What scripture or quote do you find particularly comforting when you are worried?