Single parents are doing the job of two people to raise little humans as best they can. They need all the grace, hope, and support we can give them.
If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know I wear many hats. In addition to being a writer and speaker, I’m also a DJ at a Christian radio station and a widowed mom to four amazing kids. This past weekend a few of these things intersected and it was beautiful.
The station I work at hosts a Christian music festival called Hills Alive each July. It’s huge; we’re talking 30,000 to 50,000 in attendance each year. It’s free to attend and big name Christian artists take our two stages and encourage our audience. Sometimes I get to meet them and thank them for their music and chat a little bit. It’s nice to put faces and personalities with the voices I play every day.
However, meeting cool musicians was not the best part of my experience this year. This year I was asked to use my one appearance on our main stage, transitioning between two bands, to encourage and pray for something near to my heart. The General Manager asked me if anything specific came to mind. I smiled. I didn’t have to give it any thought. I wanted to encourage and pray for single parents.
There were two parts to my talk, which was all of 3 minutes:
- To the Single Parents out there: You matter. What you do matters—to those kids and to God. You can do this because He promises to walk with you when you ask Him to and because He believed you were the best choice to be that child’s parent. Not the perfect choice but the best choice.
- To the non-single parents: These men and women raising children alone need us to be their community. I could not be doing as well as I am without the amazing support I’ve received from so many in my life. They need our grace, our encouragement, and sometimes our practical help.
I think sometimes we get caught in a judgmental mindset of wondering what the person did to end up a single parent. I know I was guilty of this before my husband died. Yes, God intended for there to be two parents raising kids for so many amazing reasons. But we live in a broken, messy world and things happen. What I think we need to focus on is that one person is trying to do the job of two people to raise a child. And that’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
As a single parent I need to care for so many practical things: the household, the finances, the groceries, the appointments, the school stuff, the vehicles, teacher meetings, remodeling, and so much more. That doesn’t even include parenting: guidance, love, nurturing, spiritual growth, discipline, and helping little people have childhoods that aren’t taken away because dad died. I used to have a partner in life helping me do all of this, sharing the load. Now it’s all up to me.
This is the hardest, most draining thing I’ve done emotionally, mentally, and physically. There is no one to get up early to take care of them if I’ve not slept well. There are few breaks and few times when I can check out and be off duty. There is no back-up if I’m not sure I’m making the right call on a rule or a conflict. I’m it.
So when my friend, Katy, asks if some people from church could come help me with my yard work that’s neglected because everything else has taken priority, I say yes with all the gratitude I can muster. When my friend, Carrie, offers to arrange for my kids rides to school when I need an outpatient surgery and time to recover, I say yes. When my friend, Deb, offers to help me track down where I went wrong with my checkbook balance, I laugh and say, “Oh please yes!” When someone texts me that I’m doing a good job, I drink that in as fuel to keep going when I’m absolutely spent. When my church offers free vehicle repair for widows and single parents, I let them know that my brakes are squealing and allow them to check it out.
Single parents need community. We all do. We were never meant to live life alone. They need to hear they are doing a good job. They need help with the practical things from time to time so they have the energy to focus on what’s most important—their kids. You may not be able to help them do everything, but offering to help do one thing could be just what they need to know they are not doing this completely alone. You can ask if there’s something that is just not getting done because they are stretched too thin.
Today, ask God what you have in your hands to reach out and help a single parent in your sphere of influence. You may be just what they need to keep going on a tough day.
Are you a single parent who has been encouraged or helped by someone just when you needed it? I’d love to hear your story in the comments. Are you someone who has helped a single parent in a practical way? I’d love for your to share that too.