The Today Show in the US posted a video called, ‘To All The Single Parents Out There: We Honor You.’ To all Australians, I’ve copied the video name so the spelling of honor looks odd to us, but the video has a powerful message to single parents: YOU MATTER!
Be prepared for the first comment after the video which blames the destruction of America on single parents and amidst the encouragement are other hostile comments.
That’s a part of the world of a single parent – hurtful words of blame and condemnation. I’ve shared my story about a comment made by a pastor at my local church as they closed a children’s ministry program at one service, justifying the decision that only single parents used the program and therefore it was too resource intensive.
This can be offset by words of encouragement and support. So, here are six words single parents need to hear from you and the church:
Welcome! You matter! You are strong!
Single parents need to hear words of welcome into the community, to be accepted as a family and for their journey to be understood eg. babysitting is a big (and costly) issue for single parents so attending church activities can be hard.
Do you know what the percentage of single parent families is in your community? Is this percentage reflected in your church? Why the difference? How can you be more welcoming and make your church a welcoming place?
The video said important words to single parents: you matter. Whether the person became a single parent by choice or circumstance, they have value and worth. They are seen.
You are strong
Often what is said to and about single parents is negative. The media equation of single parenting equals bad parenting, reporting poor outcomes of children from single parent families and the burden they are on society. Single parents can be disempowered by the welfare system.
Each single parent carries an enormous load of being the provider and being there 24/7 for their kids. Below is a comment in response to the Today show video. It shows the typical life of a single parent.
“To wear second hand clothes so your kids can have new … to go without a meal so your kids can eat better… to work day and night so they can have nice things. It isn’t a job … it is life. It isn’t hard work because it is done with love. Thank you from all of us!”
Did you see the needs in what they said e.g. poverty? Or did you see the strength in this person; the love for their child, their resilience to keep going in tough circumstances, their willingness to sacrifice for their children.
As people and churches, we need to see the strengths in single parents, not just the need. Then we can speak the strengths back to the person. Help them see their assets and their courage. Point out ‘what’s strong’ instead of ‘what’s wrong’.
Come alongside and ask the single parent, ‘How can we help you, so you can use your gifts to achieve your purpose?’
Putting legs on it
Here’s some links to help you understand and journey with single parents:
- 7 practical steps to strengthen single parent families
- How to help single parents move on the control scale to accept help
- Singles friendly church
- God holds a special place for the single parent so should the church
- 12 reasons why single parent kids are too hard
Refer single parent to another one of my websites One Together: One Together provides resources and some wisdom to help single parents in their journey. It aims to help single parents be their best and grow their best family.
To read my chapter ‘Successful single parenting’ click here