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
- 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
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By David Apple. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org