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Hope for Single Parents and Their Finances

  • Laura Petherbridge TheSmartStepmom.com
  • 2012 7 Jul
  • COMMENTS
Hope for Single Parents and Their Finances

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on laurapetherbridge.com.

Single parent families are often faced with lower incomes and more stress than two-parent families. The fact that there is only one adult in the household and no one to seek counsel from can be discouraging. Debt, childcare, home maintenance, and auto repair, can crunch a budget. And often little or no child support can leave the single parent feeling that their situation is hopeless. Thoughts of how to fund college for your children only adds to the frustration.

There is much a single parent can do to keep from being eaten by the “financial dragon.” And with careful planning, creativity, and research, children from a single parent family can obtain an excellent education. The enemy would like you to believe that your kids will be forever cursed with poverty and low paying jobs, but God wants to assure you that He has a plan for your family…and it’s a good one!

Here are some practical steps.

1. Learn

The first and most important step is for you as the head of your home is to receive Biblical teaching on what God says about money and possessions. Ask your church about classes that teach Biblical financial principles. There are seminars and books that can help, but the accountability that comes from a small group offers an incomparable dynamic. Seek a program that provides Biblical instruction as well as practical application of budgeting.

If your heart is willing He will teach you how to surrender everything you owe, and own to Him. So often we pray for God to send us money to pay a bill, but we haven’t sought his Word on how to properly handle what He has already given to us. Your children are watching how YOU manage your money. By example, teach your children that God’s methods for providing are supreme, and way beyond anything imaginable. He owns it all, and longs for us to seek His guidance.

“Everything in the heavens and earth is yours Oh Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything.” 

1 Chronicles 29:11

1 Chronicles 29:11

2. Teach Your Children

Conduct an age appropriate children or teen Bible study on finances with your children. As they examine God’s word they will be amazed at how practical He is. Many resources offer this information in a story format so young kids learn how to apply the teachings to everyday life. Our children are bombarded with materialism, and they need to understand that this is the world’s way of filling an empty hole in the heart. It’s our job to teach them this creates a bigger hole!! 

For teens and older kids use a resource that explains practical issues such as how to open checking/saving accounts, how to go on a job interview, etc. Helping them to plan for the purchase of a car or an item they crave places motivation and real life into the teaching.

“Steady plodding brings prosperity, hasty speculation brings poverty.”

Proverbs 21:5

Proverbs 21:53. Practical Application - The Budget

People often view budgeting as restrictive. In reality it’s the opposite. A budget helps you to comprehend where the money is going and what’s needed to make ends meet. Recognizing the most common budget busters and how to prepare for them is often the best way to avoid overspending.

If this seems overwhelming, ask your church for the name of a knowledgeable person who can provide one-on-one counsel. There are many people with expertise in this area that would be happy to assist. A caution here: what annoys most budget counselors is someone who expects them to provide a “quick fix” to all your financial problems. It takes time and staying steady to the course to see results. Making a commitment to follow through on your plan is the key to success.

“A wise man saves for the future a foolish man spends whatever he gets.”

Proverbs 21:20

Proverbs 21:204. Partnership

Have your child participate. We tend to appreciate the things we sacrificed or contributed to having. Starting early, instruct your children that they are expected to save toward an education. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what they will hear at school. In the USA we have come to believe that it’s our “right” to acquire an education. I personally believe an education is a privilege, and one that we should be thankful for and willing to sacrifice to obtain.

A child should also save a portion of his or her allowance, birthday money, Christmas money, etc. as this helps them to understand and feel proud of the contribution they have made to their future.  

“From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.”  Proverbs 12:14

5. The Right Education

Many people spend thousands of dollars on the wrong education, and end up in a job that they hate. As early as 13 yrs. old help your child look into studies and programs that help him or her understand their giftedness.

“Youth often choose an occupation out of ignorance or choose based on the current trends and values of society” (Finding the Career That Fits You,  Ellis/ Burkett.). When asked what career a teen desires they frequently say, “I want to make a lot of money.” However, if a child is unfocused they are more likely to flunk out of school, constantly change majors, and waste money on an education that was the wrong choice for them.

Choose a career guidance program that gives insights into personality, vocational interests, abilities, priorities, and spiritual giftedness. Career Direct through crown financial ministries is an excellent resource.

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10

Ephesians 2:106. Financial Assistance for Education

Begin to research creative ways to send your child to college without going into debt. Financial aid in the form of scholarships, and grants are available in many cases. Most states have funds available to students.  Qualifying for assistance is often a function of the student’s academic performance in high school. Thus, instilling a solid work and study ethic in your child can pay financial dividends when it comes time to apply for financial help. 

Creativity and diligence can pay off when seeking financial aid. Don’t overlook the possibility that your employer may offer scholarships. By the same token, many employers offer assistance to students who work for them.  Your church may also have a scholarship program.

Attending a community college or junior (2 year) college can be a lower cost alternative, and most of the time credits are transferable to a four year school. A trade school may be a wise choice if a career assessment suggests it. And your state’s four year school may offer quality educate at a lesser cost. Again, grades are important as competition for placement in such schools can be intense.

Remember, the goal should not be to have a diploma on the wall, but rather good training for a career that will provide financially. And a job that brings personal fulfillment. 

Most schools also offer on campus employment or a data bank that will assist students in finding off campus employment both during the school year and in summer.  Don’t forget co-op programs that may be offered at many schools. This gives a student the opportunity to gain practical work experience in their field of choice and earn money and academic credit.

With some planning, persistence, and hard work, a quality education without the burden of debt can be attainable.

I wish I could say this story is rare, but unfortunately it isn’t. I’ve met numerous men and women who have the mistaken belief that leniency, or codependency, is an act of love. And the results are often as devastating.

When we don’t allow a person to suffer the consequences of sinful or poor choices the destruction continues. Co-dependency is rampant because it feels like compassion, but there lies the myth.

Allowing someone to suffer a painful consequence for a poor choice is often the most loving thing we can do. Do you doubt that? Did God allow Adam and Eve, Moses, King David, and Jonah to experience a painful consequence when they made a poor choice? He did, and love was His motive.

Pat Springle in his book, twelve step program for overcoming codependency shares this definition, “A compulsion to control and rescue people by fixing their problems. It occurs when a person’s God-given needs for love and security have been blocked in a relationship with a dysfunctional person, resulting in a lack of objectivity, a warped sense of responsibility, being controlled and controlling others.” 

I’m an expert on this topic. Since childhood I’ve had a people-pleasing, warped sense of responsibility. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to recognize and tackle the problem.

Some classic tendencies of a rescuer (or enabler) are that they:

  • feel guilty saying no.
  • sense dread, fear, or anger if not in control of a situation.
  • fear what others think of them.
  • desire to solve other’s problems and make excuses for terrible behavior.
  • fear retaliation or removal of love if non-compliant.
  • allow people to speak to them in a disrespectful manner.
  • attempt to control others.

The good news is there is hope. God is more than willing to help you, as He did me, to confront and overcome this obstacle.

Laura Petherbridge serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, relationships, stepfamilies, co-parenting, and divorce recovery. She is an international speaker and author of when “i do” becomes “i don’t”—practical steps for healing during separation and divorce, and the smart stepmom, co-authored with stepfamily expert Ron Deal and endorsed by Gary Chapman (five love languages). Laura has spoken at the Billy Graham Training Center The Cove in Ashville, the Hearts at Home conferences, and on Focus on the Family and many other TV and radio broadcasts in many countries. Laura is a featured expert on the divorcecare DVD series, which has equipped more than 12,000 churches worldwide. She has taught on divorce recovery at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, and functioned as a Stephen’s Ministry instructor.  Laura and her husband of 26 years, Steve, reside in Florida. She can be reached at laura@laurapetherbridge.comand www.thesmartstepmom.com.

Publication date: July 5, 2012