Over a hamburger and salad, I listened to a friend of mine talk about her son. She is a single mother, and her son’s father lives very far away. As I listened to her, it struck me how hard it must be for her to balance everything. Discipline and provision. Meals and snuggles. Field trip signatures and transportation. She is overwhelmed, and she admitted that sometimes things just don’t go well.
But one of the things that was clear is that she and her son have a very special relationship. Even though her son is still in elementary school, he is developing maturity and communication skills. He is a good friend, and he is caring. He is intelligent, and he loves reading with his mom.
My friend said, “All I want to do is help him become a good man. If I can do that, it’s enough.”
I was raised in the church with conservative values around traditional families. Sadly, still today I hear judgment toward single parents (especially divorced parents). Or, at best, the needs and struggles of single parents are ignored. Church seems geared toward two-parent, traditional families. But when we look at who makes up the church, there’s much more to see.
I encouraged my friend to think about some of the positive things her son was learning. She commented that they have a special bond. For example, vacations are all about her son. They go on special trips together, and they have so much fun from the planning to the execution. They have special days together where they do nothing. They cook together, and they watch movies together. Her son is learning language of empathy and nurturing, which he is learning directly from his mother. These are wonderful qualities that will translate to his success in adulthood.
All my friend needed was to talk about her son and have someone listen. She didn’t need me to do anything else. As the church, we have such a privilege and responsibility to come around single parents and support them. Sometimes that means helping them with an oil change or providing babysitting for a much-needed break. But more often than not, it’s just a conversation over a hamburger and a salad.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” When we come alongside families—families of any size, shape, or makeup—we are doing the pure and faultless work of God. This is the church that God envisioned. I don’t think that God envisioned a church filled with judgment and ignoring the needs of others. Regardless of how a family is formed, God loves them and wants to be a part of their lives.
And he wants us to demonstrate his love for them…to them.
Do you know a single parent—either a mom or a dad? What can you do today to support them?