1. Employ Empathy and Avoid Sympathy
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
Solo parenting comes to a woman in a variety of ways. In a significant portion of families headed by a single mother, there is often some grief attached. It is important to begin at the very core of the matter, understanding that grief and trauma are present both within the mother and in the children in many cases. Often the solo parent and her children may have endured the loss of the partner parent through death, divorce, or some form of a broken relationship.
Whatever the dynamic of the single-mother household, it is essential to take good care that empathic understanding is present. It can be natural to experience sympathy when encountering the difficulties of a solo mother. It can also feel normal to want to jump in and solve her difficulties. However, it is crucial not to assume or generalize that all solo mothers are experiencing like grief.
Empathy avoids pity and dignifies the parent and her experience by seeking to step into a space of understanding her true feelings and actual need.
2. Listen Well
"Listening and trying to understand the needs of those we would communicate with seems to me to be the essential prerequisite of any real communication. And we might as well aim for real communication." Fred Rogers
To the woman who may be struggling just to get through the day, empathy may be most evidenced by a kindhearted friend with a listening ear.
Listening well is far more difficult than one might realize, but it is a primary component of a strong friendship and caring for others. Those who listen well seek to suspend answers that they may find forming in their mind as another is speaking, and to hear with heart and ear.
The most valuable help for any individual often comes in the form of true friendship that is formed over time. Listening without judgment or need to solve, and suspending the idea of being a savior, can facilitate true needs being expressed.
A solo parent is most honored when they are dignified in their role as a parent, and not seen as a project.
In many circumstances, those seeking to genuinely love and build a relationship with the solo mother may ultimately find that God also uses them as an answer to her needs. The solo parent may want to ask for what they need, and know that they are seen as a vital part of the community, not just a project to be completed.
Love is the first command, and God's love always dignifies first, and then when we are ready and at the right time, provides aid.
The church at large can offer aid through counseling, money management, coaching, after-school study help for children, financial aid, and solo parenting care groups. Those serving in these areas should be highly trained in the art of listening, and always aim at bringing honor and dignity alongside assistance.