Recently I was leading a single parent retreat. At the beginning of the retreat I put up a poster titled, “My Child’s Positives” along with a sharpie attached to the paper.
The instructions were at any time during the retreat they could go to the poster and list their children’s positive traits. While this might sound like a simple request for any parenting in a two-parent home, it is not always easy for divorcing parents.
Sure enough, at first the single parents just stared at me. You know, like I was an alien from outer space? No one made a move. I could read their expressions. They were like, “What?”
The reason for this exercise
The reason I do this little exercise is because when a parent is experiencing the stress of a divorce or just the stress of parenting alone, the stress dictates that everyone else’s needs are forgotten. Everything is about just making it through the day or night.
I think that while single parents don’t forget their children’s basic needs, they do forget some of their children’s positive traits. Or rather perhaps their children’s positive traits are put on the back burner while the parent is learning to be a solo parent.
The lights come on
At the end of the first session one lone single mom went over and listed her children’s positive traits. Then little by little they started writing on the poster. You could see different people thinking and pondering this question and then the lights would go on and as a smile crept across their face, they grabbed a marker and started writing also.
Here are some of the positives they shared
- Accepting of others
- Gives big hugs
- Always helpful
- Caring of others
- Always has a smile (I saw the little girl this mom was talking about and I never once saw this child without a smile)
- Loves to spend time with family
- Kind and compassionate
- Out going
- Loves nature
- Very intelligent
- Asks the tough questions
- Easy to laugh
- A real comedian
- Excels in school
- Loves church
- Willing to learn
- Outgoing and makes friends easily
- Stubborn in a positive way
- Excels in learning a new skill
- My ray of sunshine
As the parents felt better about themselves they also felt better about their children. As they gained confidence in parenting alone, they began to remember the positive side to their children. Many parents went back to the poster and wrote more positive traits throughout the weekend.
Church leaders and children’s ministers this list can play an important role in your ministry. When a child living in a stressful single parent home begins to act out in one of your classes, think about this list. What trait might the challenging child have? How can you bring out that positive trait at church?
What positive trait does your child possess? Please share in this blog’s comment section.