Question: What encouragement can you offer to those of us who are single parents? Each day seems more difficult than the one before it. Can you help plead our case to those who don't understand what we're facing?
Answer: In my view, single parents have the toughest job in the universe! Hercules himself would tremble at the range of responsibilities people like you must handle every day. It's difficult enough for two parents with a solid marriage and stable finances to satisfy the demands of parenting. For a single mother or father to do that task excellently over a period of years is evidence of heroism.
The greatest problem faced by single parents, especially a young mother like yourself, is the overwhelming amount of work to be done. Earning a living, fixing meals, caring for kids, helping with homework, cleaning house, paying bills, repairing the car (if she has one), handling insurance, and doing the banking, the income tax, marketing, etc., can require twelve hours a day or more. She must continue that schedule seven days per week all year long. Some have no support from family or anyone else. It's enough to exhaust the strongest and healthiest woman. Then where does she find time and energy to meet her social and emotional needs--and how does she develop the friendships on which that part of her life depends? This job is no easier for most fathers, who may find themselves trying to comb their daughter's hair and explain menstruation to their preteen girls.
There is only one answer to the pressures single parents face. It is for the rest of us to give them a helping hand. They need highly practical assistance, including the friendship of two-parent families who will take their children on occasion to free up some time. Single moms need the help of young men who will play catch with their fatherless boys and take them to the school soccer game. They need men who will fix the brakes on the Chevy and patch the leaky roof. They need prayer partners who will hold them accountable in their walk with the Lord and bear their burdens with them. They need an extended family of believers to care for them, lift them up, and remind them of their priorities. Perhaps most important, single parents need to know that the Lord is mindful of their circumstances.
Clearly, I believe it is the responsibility of those of us in the church to assist you with your parenting responsibilities. This requirement is implicit in Jesus' commandment that we love and support the needy in all walks of life. He said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40, KJV). That puts it in perspective. Our effort on behalf of a fatherless or motherless child is seen by Jesus Christ as a direct service to Himself!
The biblical assignment is even more explicitly stated in James 1:27: "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."
Thankfully, churches today are becoming more sensitive to the needs of single parents. More congregations are offering programs and ministries geared to the unique concerns of those with special needs. I'd advise every single parent to find such a church or fellowship group and make himself or herself at home there. Christian fellowship and support can be the key to survival.
Book: The The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide
By Dr. James Dobson