Single Parent and Complete in Christ

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Complete in Christ not just a lifestyle. It is a mindset that no matter what happens or what worldly influences persist, wholeness is found in the Lord. Single families need to be reminded of Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…

Single parents need a Biblical foundation to affirm their family is not an accident. It is not less complete, or in any way a punishment for a lifestyle. Single parents need to acknowledge God knew their child before he or she was even formed in the womb.

For single mothers and fathers out-of-wedlock that means even though the parent did not follow God’s will regarding no sex before marriage, God knew that child’s life before they sinned, and that child’s life is consecrated or set apart by God. There are no mistakes or accidents when it comes to how single families are formed according to God, regardless of the circumstances that create a single family.

Likewise for single parents of adoption, God entrusted the single parent before the adopted child was even conceived. Their adoption is not a chance of fate, but a divine appointment. Their family was planned by a Holy God long before it came to fruition.

For single mothers/fathers that are widowed, there was no mistake about whether they could or could not handle the situation given to them. They are Complete in Christ, and God knew the widow or widower could raise a family alone and that the child would have a home that could be filled to the point each person in the home could be Complete in Christ.

Lastly, for single mothers/fathers of divorce and their children, God hates divorce. As Malachi 2:16 tell us, it is never His plan. But, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 7 that even Moses had to grant divorce due to the sinful nature of man. Children should not be a chess piece in divorce or a reminder of a failed past relationship. God knows each child in the womb, and He sets apart each one’s lives. Therefore, single parents of divorce need to be Complete in Christ, even if they were never complete in their prior marriage.

The single parent needs to be mindful of Romans 8 where we are told there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Only Christ can complete someone, not a relationship, and certainly, not a spouse.

Being Dad Through Divorce

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Divorce is ugly.

 

Talk to anyone who is going through or has survived a divorced and unanimously they will say, even in the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. When children are involved in divorce, the stakes and emotions are even higher. From the day one spouse says the words “I want a divorce”, life and the marriage relationship will never return to the place it once was with unbroken trust.

Dads are by nature protective providers, and while not perfect, they strive to achieve the primal “hunter and gatherer” mindset. Maybe you are a dad reading this going through divorce. Regardless of the circumstances that led to this day, there are steps as a Christ follower that a father should take even in the challenge of a divorce.

 

Fight for Your Marriage

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:23

Defenses go up, feelings are hurt, and a once promising happily ever after might fade into a nightmare. While your marriage will be shaped by the actions taken, it can be saved by the One who has saved you. In the midst of a storm is not the time to go silent and walk away. Be just as vigilant in loving the one you chose to marry as the day you went engagement ring shopping. Just as Christ forgave you for your sins and offered salvation through eternal life, you can offer forgiveness in the difficult times.

 

Be Present with Your Children

“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

Divorce can be embarrassing, humiliating, and defeating. All things men hate. This often causes men to retreat away from the relationships in the situation, including your children. They did not choose this path; do not punish the ones you held in the hospital the day they were born with the present situation. Custody battles are never “won”–only compromised like the relationship that was broken. Even if you no longer want to communicate with their mother, you need to love and respect her in the way Christ loves us.

 

Your Ex-Spouse’s Salvation Matters

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Ask yourself this question: Do I want to see my ex in heaven? To a Believer, this question should be a centering moment in how you proceed in your divorce and your life. Remember the reality of your present state in this world. The emotions are high, your anger may be running over, the circumstances may be out of control. However, as a Christ follower, you should still keep the Gospel in the forefront of your conversation and mind. Don’t “Jesus juke” to be spiteful, but let your actions be ones that draw people to God rather than turn from him. Your actions a Christian applies to your ex just as much as the believers who stand beside you in difficult times.

Silent Christmas Morning

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A single parent has to live with the reality of the first Christmas without the kids. The glow of the Christmas lights from the tree is the only warmth that fills the room. What started out years ago as a joyous holiday morning filled with traditions has disintegrated into court documents dictating where kids will spend the holidays. The fridge is empty as there is no need for a great feast and delivered pizza is left over from the night before.

A silent night is full of joy, a silent morning full of sorrow.

Single parents, we understand your holidays are not Norman Rockwell paintings and yuletide cheer from singing around the fireplace. Even if you are the one with the children at the holidays, there is still something missing around the tree. Divorce is approaching 50% for America couples. This statistic means that one out of two homes on your street have this type of Christmas. Even for singles who have not experienced divorce but adopted become a parent find that missing “something” in the air on Christmas morn.

Your Church Needs to Reach Single Parents

In churches everywhere, Christmas Eve will be a candlelight service and singing to a Savior’s birth to come. But, how often do leaders stop and realize just how many people in their audience are experiencing the above-mentioned scene just hours after they leave the church? Will your Christmas Eve service have childcare provided? After all, that single parent in the pew is doing their best just to get everyone gathered to arrive that evening. What a blessing it would be if the preschool hall were open for them to have a moment with the Lord. As the kids get older they can engage in that worshipful time, but how will you minister to the younger families?

You Need to Seek Out Single Parents

Your church needs to have a plan to connect single parents into the life of the church. Singles groups are a great way to do this. Singles without children can help fill the void of a missing parent for that single mother or father that joins their singles group. Another great way to support single parents is connecting the parent to married adult families. The point is to have a way to connect single parents in every ministry in the life of your church. It is worth it! Keep in mind nearly half of the families on your street are experiencing a silent Christmas.

God Needs to be the Focus

The key to every single family is to remain focused on God. When you gather for the holidays, be cordial to one another and reflect the love of God to your children no matter how bad the situation may be with the other parent. Single parents, you know personally what it’s like to share your kids with someone else.

Treat the situation with love by remembering God sent His only Son into the world to share Him with us so that He paid the price of sin on the cross for the world. He gave His only Son through a virgin Mary. You know those emotions and need to remember and apply the love this Christmas.

Single Parents Keep Traditions Alive

A final word of encouragement–keep family traditions alive at Christmas. Even if they have to be modified or the ex may not participate, keep traditions strong. If you have adopted children, pass down your traditions and start new ones.

Everyone remembers holidays traditions growing up. Establish pleasant memories for your child. Keep the Christmas spirit alive.

Parents, we don’t promise things will be easy. Life is hard. Surround yourself in the Love of God and find His strength in those around you.

The Single Parent Family Defined

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The contemporary family of today cannot be defined as a nuclear family consisting of a mother and father and children. Families come in different sizes, different ways, and many consist of one parent. Single parents are no longer defined in only one singular category. Single parents come from varied backgrounds, generations, and socioeconomic settings. Single parents can be categorized in four broad categories that define and more accurately refine the way in which they became single parents: widowed, divorced, through adoption, and child out-of-wedlock. Each of these categories will be defined below.

As single parents now make up nearly 40% of all parents in America, the local church needs to consider this statistic. A healthy and growing church that reaches families should reflect its local community’s demographics of its local community’s demographics. This should result in a church that incorporates single parents of all categories and whom have children in preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school.

Ministerial staff need to understand their local church should reflect the demographics around them to include single parents. The result of this reflection is building a discipleship platform of which a single-family home can participate in the same way as a nuclear-family home. This includes curriculum, finances, and time commitments that have often been geared towards a traditional family with two parents present.

The first category of single parents are single mothers/fathers by divorce. In the United States, the divorce rate fluctuates around 50% for all marriages. It is very hard to find a reliable statistic for this information as many surveys collect data differently. So Table for One Ministries will average those findings to 50%. Of those divorces, one statistic is for certain–the average age for a first divorce is 30 years old.

Secondly, single parents are defined as being a single mother/father by being widowed. The average age for the widowed is now 57 years old, meaning it is not just elderly who are widowed. Single parents are widowed as well.

Single parents are thirdly defined as single mother/father by child out-of-wedlock. With the average age for marriage rising to 29 for men and 27 for women, and the rise of socially-accepted sexual relationships, it is again easy to see just how many parents fall into this categorization. Furthermore, almost 14 million unmarried parents live alone with their children–10 million mothers, 1.7 million fathers, and 1.9 million couples.

Lastly, single parents are defined by single mother/father by adoption. Adoption can come in many forms and event countries. Single parents who adopt may do so from the foster system, a known relative in need, or by surrogate. On the rise in this category are same-sex attraction couples who are Biblically single and looking to have a family. Same-sex attraction couples amount to 3% of the general population, but are increasing their adoption rates. The key principle to apply in the local church is not all single parents became so by sinful actions. Some make a conscious choice by loving a child through adoption.

Single parents are not just mothers and fathers. In fact, over 820,000 grandparents are the primary caregivers in a child’s life in America, a statistic that is rising. People affected by single parents are everywhere. Single parents may include a broken family from a sixteen and pregnant female to the person in their forties whose spouse abandoned them and their children. Custody battles are often drawn out and expensive, with little positive results, leaving children who are hurting and looking for a place to be loved.

Every church community is affected by single parents, and churches need to create environments where the single parent and the children raised by single parents can be reached. So how does your church create welcoming environments for this wide variety of single families?

A Profile of Singles: Single Parents

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A Deeper Look at Single Parents

At Table for One Ministries we are passionate about reaching singles of all ages and backgrounds. In this series of blogs we are looking at the “profile” of each type of single adult. While these are not all encompassing, they are meant to help singles and those who lead singles understand each type of single adult better or in a different light. We WELCOME feedback and additions to these profiles as we grow our ministry!

Characteristics of this Group

In 2011, thirty-six percent of new mothers entered motherhood without a spouse. Ten million single mothers and 1.7 million single fathers make up single parents in America. It is not new that single parents are on the rise, but the number of single fathers has increased significantly over the past decade and continues to grow. Single parents come from divorced, widowed, and unmarried situations. The majority of single parents arise from having children out of wedlock; however, that can never be assumed with the wide range of reasons leading to being a single parent. Single parents may share time with a paternal parent which creates situations where planning ahead for weeks is required, often by mandate of the court.

Ministry Needs in this Group

Single parents need to know there is a place for them in the local church. Often pictures of mom, dad, and the kids are everywhere in church and neglect the broken families of single parents. Single parents come in many ways, but those having children outside of wedlock and at a young age have a wide variety of needs. Many needs are financial but often neglected is the young parent’s need for a support network. Not having a spouse around to change a dirty diaper is hard enough, but doing it before age 20 is a reality in our communities, and the church needs a place to connect those single parents.

Communication Strategies for this Group

Time is of the essence for single parents. Communicating with them needs to be effective to maximize their limited time. Avenues where childcare is available become extremely important as these may be the only times where they can get a moment away from the kids. The mode of communication is not important, but communicating whether their kids are welcome or not at events is important. Singles ministry events need to specify childcare availability or not and whether the event will be kid-friendly. Doing so will help communicate to single parents where they can be involved.

Strategy for Reaching this Group

Single parents are not just young mothers with kids and no money. A strategy to reach single parents, both male and female, needs to be in place so that any single parent can find a way into the church. Single parents also may be dealing with the loss of a spouse or divorce. Both may require a program to help reach out and connect them to the singles ministry. Single parents may choose to join a singles group or a married adult group depending on their age and if they want to be with other families. Either way is fine, but preferably they will be able to find a connecting place within a singles ministry.

Resources

Armstrong, Brenda. Financial Relief for Single Parents. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007.

Leman, Kevin. Single Parenting That Works: Six Keys to Raising Happy, Healthy, Children in a Single Parent Home.

Carroll Stream: Tyndale House Publishing, 2006.

 

What do you think?

Do you agree with this profile of single adults who are single parents? What resources or information would you add?

Father to the Fatherless

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At Table for One, we acknowledge that the children of a single parent often experience a feeling of emptiness for a missing parent. This void is a direct result of God’s plan for every child to have a mother and a father to raise that child in the way he or she should go. But when God’s model family does not happen, children are left missing a parent and often filling the void with worldly things.

Psalm 68:4-7 says: “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him. A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” For children seeking a missing parental figure, God is the missing relationship they yearn for as the parental authority who offers advice, love, admiration, correction, and kindness.

Not only is the missing relationship filled with God, but the loneliness that comes with being in a single-parent home is lessened as well. These passages are applicable to both parent and child in that both must turn to God for strength to fill the void. In a nuclear home, this void is not often as acute if both parents are following Christ and reflecting His image. So in many ways, a single-parent home that seeks to follow the Lord can fill the void of a missing parent with God’s abundant love.

God is Father. So do you think He can be a Father to the Fatherless and how so? How can the church focus on reaching single parents and minister in this situation?

Singles Struggles: Baby Envy

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Maternal instincts for some women are deep and for single women this causes a challenging problem. Some single women have a deep desire to be mothers, some more than others. For those ladies who have this deep desire, but have not found a spouse to share this with, this post is for you. God made you uniquely as you are and this desire is no less important as a single woman than a married woman. He knows when you walk past others mothers with children, your heart breaks because you desire the same for your life. This desire is baby envy. This is nothing new to the world. In fact, it even happened in Scripture in 1 Samuel 1:1-20. Hannah wanted a child so much, and was in anguish to the point that when she prayed her lips moved without making a sound, causing Eli to think she was drunk. The Lord heard Hanna and answered her prayers.

For the single ladies who are not single mothers, God knows the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4. But you also need to prioritize your relationship with God and allow that to help you emotionally with your desires to be a mother. There is nothing wrong with having those emotions, but the Lord will give you ways to be around children if you ask Him to. Focus on finding ways to be around children, volunteer in places where that desire for you to mother will be met. This may be your church, a local organization, through your married adult friends that have children, or through extended family.

In a conversation with a lifelong single adult missionary, she talked about how she accepted not being able to be married and have children. The older she got the more of a reality it became that a family may not be in the cards for her. So she focused on serving those around her with families and offering them “nights out” frequently to help their marriages and allow her time to express her motherly instincts. It does not fully replace a family of your own, but the Lord will provide you strength in that area of your life if you allow Him.

Lastly, you never know at what age the Lord will provide someone in your life to marry. That person may also have children they are bringing into the relationship that provides an instant family for you to serve. Also, some ladies may choose to adopt a child in need while as a single adult. While not common, this it becoming increasingly possible and an option if the Lord leads you down that path. Trust in the Lord your God in everything (even wanting children) and He will provide the path for you to follow, Proverbs 3:5!