Even when the home life is fraught with difficulties and challenges, a Christian mother has a great opportunity to influence her children for Christ. Her family is her mission field.
One of the greatest challenges that a child can face is growing up in a home where dad is either absent or spiritually disengaged. The Bible is clear that fathers have the responsibility to take the lead in guiding and governing their homes. God’s design for families provides for children to be raised in two-parent families with dads at the helm.
A growing body of research has confirmed the wisdom of this design. According to the National Father Initiative, a father’s presence and involvement in the lives of his children diminishes poverty, abuse, neglect, sexual promiscuity, and criminal activity, and it enhances a child’s physical health and academic performance. This should come as no surprise to Christians because we know that God’s ways are both right and good.
But what about the children that grow up in homes where dad is absent (physically, spiritually, or both)? Are children bereft of the spiritual leadership of a father doomed to a life of failure? Must a mother who has no support from a husband in raising children resign herself to her children turning out badly?
Hardly. A godly mother can have a powerful influence over her children even in the absence of a fully engaged dad. The New Testament church leader named Timothy demonstrates this in a significant way.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul reminds his young colleague of his spiritual heritage. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” The lack of any reference to Timothy’s father is striking. Evidently, Timothy grew up in a home where his dad was not much of a spiritual leader.
In fact, his dad was probably not a believer at all. When we first read of Timothy in Acts 16, he is described as “the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek” (v. 1). He was the child of a religiously mixed marriage.