Thirteen years later, I remain a single parent. And, over these past years, I have thought of many ways others can help single parents beyond the need for groceries, financial help and babysitting. Some of these ideas come from those who have helped me or other single parents I come in contact with, other ideas from unmet needs I’ve had over the years.
It seems the holidays are the roughest on any single parent. The higher the ratio of children in the family, the tighter the budget, the more one has to make the dollar stretch. Gift certificates for things like oil changes for the car, a local grocery store, haircuts for everyone in the family, movies or video rental as a treat, favorite fast food restaurants and even a membership to a state park or a children’s museum or zoo might be nice, and end up being educational, too. Use your imagination and think of those things your family take for granted but a single parent cannot afford.
Give the gift or time, whether for babysitting, cooking meals (working parents love this), offering free tutoring, cleaning or make a point to invite them over for a fun night with your family once a month at least. Letting children from a single parent family spend time with another family is quite an invaluable experience. I have always shared my son with my friends and their families. Many single parents may not have immediate family nearby and miss that kind of contact.
Many churches focus on those with small children, but many single parents may be trying to raise a teenager and need someone to be a mentor. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we live a fast-paced life that doesn’t leave much room for anything outside our own families, but this is not always a good thing. Communication and connection, especially with teenagers, is of utmost importance. Beyond the youth group, teenagers need other Christian adults to take interest in them and spend time with them and even become a mentor.
Helping a single parent feel a part of the church family is a gift to their weary souls. They want to help out in the church more, but may be constrained. Try bartering with them for services that you need and you both can help each other. Sharing burdens lightens the load for everyone involved!
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