by Dr. John W. Oberdeck
In our culture today a growing number of families are without a “father figure” in the home. If having an adult male to look up to is as vital to a boy’s maturation as I believe it is, doesn’t this place single moms in an impossible situation?
The fact that God’s Word draws so much attention to widows and the fatherless emphasizes God’s special concern when a male role model is absent. In doing so, God’s Word prohibits us from pretending single moms don’t have more pressure, stress, and responsibility. They do! They do double duty by shouldering the responsibilities of both mother and father!
Where, then, might there be help in providing a male role model? Here are some suggestions:
- Extended family. Don’t underestimate the influence of grandfathers, uncles, and older cousins in partially filling the void. My father filled just such a role for two nephews whose father died when they were both under age six.
- Congregation family. Following God’s Word to care for the fatherless, individual members of the Christian community can step in. Often, we are willing, but we don’t know how to volunteer with-out causing offense. Many men in the congregation would be flattered to find themselves asked to be a child’s male role model. Ask.
Neighborhood family. How would any single mom manage her multiple responsibilities without friends and neighbors? Neighbors can become fictive kin; not really related, but just as close as if they were. Good male role models can be found there.
- Community family. Many communities are already sensitive to the developmental needs of children. “Big Brother” and “Big Sister” programs are designed to help the nontraditional family, and male role models can be found in Boy Scouts, 4-H Clubs, Junior Achievement organizations, and other community-based groups.
Don’t overlook the fact that boys often find their own male role models: a teacher, a coach, a pastor, a scout leader—even a good friend. But at the same time, be careful. We live in a fallen world where predators are lurking. Expect organizations to complete background checks on their employees and volunteers.
The key term to keep in mind is family, whether extended, congregation, neighborhood, or community. Make family as large as it needs to be for your child.