Helping Single Parents

How Do I Help Someone Who Is A Custodial Single Parent?

by David Apple January 1, 2007

Remember, first, that you are ministering to a family. It helps to understand what single parents are going through in order to provide the individual care they need and will respond to in healthy ways.

What You Need To Do/Know First...

  • Do suspend any judgment. Focus on the needs of the adult and child(ren)
  • A single parent must be treated with respect and integrity
  • A single parent has suffered loss—whether through death, desertion, separation or divorce. She/he will exhibit all the stages of grief: shock, anger, bargaining, acceptance, and—hopefully—forgiveness
  • There has been a break in their family structure
  • The non-custodial parent may be inaccessible
  • In most cases there is a sudden lack of financial support and a decline in financial security
  • In most cases there is a noticeable decline in the support of friends, family and church
  • The single parent faces chaos and change
  • The single parent faces fear of the future and worry about today
  • The single parent has great concern for the children’s needs: how they deal with change, fear, abandonment, reactions of friends and family. How they respond to visitation (normally) and, especially, if there is a history of violence/abuse or drugs/pornography by the non-custodial parent.

What Are Your Options For Action?

If you desire to be more sensitive in caring for a single parent or her/his child(ren), learn about the changes, above, that have taken place and the problems she or he is facing:

Help the Parent

  • Be available to talk
  • Listen
  • Observe
  • Give time
  • Ask permission before sharing appropriate information or advice
  • Give reassurance of your love and availability
  • Encourage open communication
  • Establish a trusting relationship with the single parent families. Open your heart and home providing hospitality for the single parent family on a regular basis
  • Phone the single parent daily (reassurances that the single parent is not alone)
  • Provide child care to give the single parent a well-earned break
  • Mobilize the church to care for home repairs, transportation, meals, counseling, etc.

Help the Child

  • Develop trust
  • Spend quality time with each child
  • Become an "adopted" aunt, uncle or grandparent
  • Give reassurance that the divorce/death is not child(ren)'s fault
  • Help equip child(ren) to deal with conflict and stress
  • Help the child(ren) grieve (give them permission)
  • Provide recreational opportunities for the children

 

© 2019 Tenth Presbyterian Church.

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By David Apple. ©2019 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org