Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Some Praise For Single Parents

I remember years ago when our kids were little that my wife and I were often exhausted. Trying to handle two young children, diapers, laundry, getting them in and out of the car, meals, picking up toys and then finally getting them into bed was sometimes more than we could endure. And there were two of us.

But unless we're a single parent ourselves, we probably don't even think about the incredible challenge it must be for a lone mom or dad to handle parenting by themselves. There is rarely that other person around to pitch in or to take one child while they focus on the other. There's no one to handle kid duties while they clean clothes, take a nap or fix dinner.

And perhaps most importantly there's typically no one to talk to about it. No one to share ideas with about new discipline tactics, changing the rules or just feeling like a failure. Singleness means just that much of the time - you're doing this alone.

And unfortunately even though there are more single parents than ever, we're still pretty much a couples-driven culture. Most every activity, small group and special program seems to work better for married people.  I know that in our church when we speak on marriage we try to be very intentional about remembering that there will be singles in the audience and to be sure that we include them somehow.  But often singles are just left out.

So how might we praise and encourage you single parents who are reading this or those we know? Let me suggest a couple of ways.

First, get to know and build relationships with some singles, especially if you're married. As you learn of some of their needs, be willing to become an advocate for even one single mom or dad by pitching in and helping, becoming a listening ear, sharing resources and inviting them into social settings.

Second, if you're a leader at church, work or in the community, be sure to start thinking about how you can also meet the needs of singles as you plan events, activities and programs. Can you include childcare or even help with transportation?  Are there things your organization could do to specifically meet the needs of single parents?  When people speak do they intentionally mention the singles in the audience?

Third, let a single parent know that you care and notice how hard they work.  Sure, some parents are single largely because of their own doing but that's the exception more than the rule. And even if they did generally put themselves in that spot, they still deserve our love and care. Jesus would do no less. Like many of us do when we see a soldier and thank them for their service, my hunch is that many singles would love to know that we notice the sacrifices they continue to make for their kids.

Fourth, pray specifically for a single or two that you know. It's likely they don't have that many people who will help build them up by asking God for strength, wisdom and direction as they try to parent the best they can.

So, who do you know who's parenting by themselves? Think about how you can start to help and serve them. When you do I'm pretty sure there will be some new lumps in throats and tears in eyes when people notice you really do care and they've not been forgotten.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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