Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Single Mom Guilt


I’m a single mom with two boys, 11 and 9.  I’m going to college full-time, working two part-time jobs and feel overwhelmed most of the time.  I feel guilty about not being a good-enough mom and being short-tempered, especially with my oldest son who struggles with ADHD.  Any suggestions for dealing with my own anger and in dealing with his ADHD?


You are under more stress than you’re aware of, and excess stress sets us up for all kinds of spiritual, physical, and emotional challenges.  However, in God’s hands those can also become sovereign opportunities for us to learn and grow.

It’s normal to feel guilty when we don’t do it right, especially when the “it” involves being short-tempered with our kids.  Anger is the least understood and most misunderstood of all the emotions.  Anger is always a secondary emotion that occurs in response to one or more of the primary emotions of hurt, frustration and/or fear.

Most of us react to the secondary emotion of anger and then say and do things we regret.  When we learn how to respond to our hurts, frustrations, and/or fears we’re more likely to make our anger work for us rather than against us.  Norm Wright and I coauthored a book, A Woman’s Forbidden Emotion, that will give you many practical and biblically-consistent ways to deal with this powerful emotion.

The first step in dealing with your son is find a counselor who has been trained in diagnosing and treating ADHD in children.  This disorder impacts the entire family and the sooner you get professional help the better.  The good news is that there are a lot of excellent resources for helping your son, and helping you understand how to parent him.

Seek out spiritually and emotionally healthy friends who will pray with you and pray for you.  Some churches have support groups for single moms that are a gold mine of encouragement and resources to help you through these challenging times.

Remember that the best way to be a better mom is to be a healthier mom.  Exercise, healthy eating, etc. can make a huge difference in your spiritual, emotional, and physical health and allow you to maintain the kind of perspective you need to “be more than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37) which is God’s desire for you.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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