It's very difficult to put yourself in someone's shoes when you have no idea what it's like to be in their shoes or don't even stop to think about it. I never really thought about how hard single parents have it, until I listened to a message by John MacArthur, in which he read a letter aloud to his congregation. The letter was from a single mother whose circumstances left her without an involved and working husband, so she was forced to work full-time and juggle the handful of children she had. The single mother was exhausted from work, only to become more exhausted by the demands of her children, their need to be fed, paid attention to, and helped with homework. This mother realized her children were struggling with the new situation. They were acting out because they lacked the specialized attention they used to receive, and their mom had no way to give them the time they needed. Not only that, going to work everyday was a struggle for her, because her role had always been a stay-at-home mom. She reached out for help from her church, and they wouldn't give it to her. I felt so sad for her. There are many single parents today in our church who for whatever reason are going through life alone. It's our duty as the body of Christ to help each of those single parents out. We don't do what that lady's church did in action and say as James 2:15-16 says, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, 'Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,' but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?" We must not only remember to pray for the single parents, but also take action to help them out in a practical way. There are many simple ways to help them out, and I've come up with a few:
1.) Offer to babysit, for free- Not every single parent will accept your offer, but it's worth a shot. Perhaps the single mom or dad is working late unexpectedly; now they know they can call you for help. Maybe it's just much easier to run errands without having to load up all of the kids, and single parents need a break, because they don't have that regular break couples get when they switch off watching the kids. In no way does this mean that you should let someone take advantage of your help. If you see that happening, you will have to be firm with the individual to stop it.
2.) Make a meal for the family- Single parents really don't have time to cook a meal. Most likely they will rely on pre-made meals. Offer to make dinner for them.
3.) Offer to help out with the kids and their homework once a week.- Maybe one of the kids is struggling in a particular subject, but a tutor is not something that the parent can afford at the moment. Your free intervention will be a blessing! And if they don't need a tutor but have questions about homework, at least the parent gets a break from that, even if it's once out of the week!
4.) Give practical gifts- Most single parents struggle to provide for their family. Gift cards for groceries or even buying groceries are a great way to help out the family. Gift cards might be something you choose to do anonymously, but either way, it will be greatly appreciated.
5.) Offer to maintain the lawn as needed- If you have a single mom within your church, it's more than likely she doesn't have the time to do this, and paying someone to do so is an unnecessary expense. Form a group from your church to take turns mowing the lawn on a weekly basis to ensure that there's one less thing she needs to worry about.
6.) Ask if there's any way you can help out- Hopefully the single parent will divulge and let you know what is needed. There are probably other things they need help with that would be a huge blessing.
Encourage them when you can as well! Check up on them regularly. Ask how they're doing. Give them Scripture verses and write notes letting them know you're praying for them. Single parents need encouragement and help as they parent alone. Got any more tips? Post them below!