Today’s church is filled with single moms (3 out of every 20 women in America). But they are one of the most unrecognized, yet hurting groups there. The vast majority have been thrust into a role they never intended to be in and feel uneasy in it themselves, not to mention around the church their family was likely a part of before it’s demise.
It’s understandable that the church doesn’t know how to handle them. Most people in church leadership haven’t lived through it. But it’s no excuse not to try to bridge that gap. There’s no one more in need of ministry that shows her Jesus still cares for her, still sees her, and still wants her in your church, than a single mom. Minister to her in a way that will touch her deeply:
1. Remember Her on Mother’s Day
Think about it. Who prepares Mother’s Day for moms? Their spouses, not their children. When a single mom has young children and no longer has a spouse, she is more often than not forgotten on Mother’s Day. For a mom that’s working double-time, it’s a heartbreaking moment. For the children that know it’s Mother’s Day and have no one to help them remember their mother, it’s painful as well.
How to minister: Offer to help her children make a gift, or take them to the dollar store to shop for one. It’s not about the gift. As a mom, it’s more about watching the joy in your children as they get to do something for someone they love that does so much for them. It will mean the world to both of them.
2. Go with Her to Court
For most single moms, court is an unavoidable reality. And being in court with their child’s other parent is likely the first time they’ve ever been in a court room setting. It can be one of the scariest and loneliest times in a single mom’s journey, and most spend it completely alone.
How to minister: Offer to go to court with her. If additional people are not allowed in the court room, offer to wait for her outside and meet her for coffee afterward.
"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)
3. Invite Her Family Over for a Family Gathering
When a single mom begins to build the new version of her family, she is often no longer considered a traditional family unit and isn’t invited to gatherings she may have been invited to in the past, like cook outs. Her family is valid. It matters in society. And she is doing her very best to recreate something meaningful for her children. They miss (and notice the lack of invites) to other’s family gatherings they may have been included in the past.
How to minister: Put aside the awkwardness and put them back on the invite list. Invite them to your next family party or barbeque.
4. Sit Beside Her in Church
There is nowhere a single mom feels more judged than her own church. This can be real or imagined. But the fact is, she needs a friend there. In the early stages of single motherhood, the grief of losing the dream of her family can be amplified by sitting in church alone surrounded by other families. Since many don’t know what to say, they avoid, making her feel as if they are judging her.
How to minister: Slide in beside her and genuinely welcome her. Or, make room and ask her to sit with you.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7
5. Have Your Hubby Include Her Children
While some single moms have a father who is in good standing and active with their children, many do not—and often not the ones you’d expect. These kids struggle to see good father-child relationships and long to experience that. If you have a hubby who loves kids and has a heart for the hurting, consider helping a single mom.
How you can minister: The next time your hubby is out playing with the kids, invite a few extra over.
6. Go Out of Your Way to Point Out the Good
There tends to be an unfair bias towards single moms in society. If their kids struggle, they are often blamed for their parenting skills when in reality, all kids struggle at some point regardless of their family situation. For many single moms, judgment comes from many sides—often including the other parent who may try to hurt her by insulting how she is parenting her children.
How to minister: Go out of your way to tell a single mom something wonderful you notice about her children. She likely doesn’t have anyone building her up. Her heart will soar.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Single moms are just moms. They do the very best they can with what they’ve been given. They love their children fiercely and want nothing more than to provide for them, and lead them towards the future with hope. The next time you see a single mom, put the stereotype aside and consider that she is no different than any other who is suffering a hardship. She needs support. She needs friends. She needs the church to reach out and show her that she is seen, loved, and cared for.
Laura Polk is a writer, speaker, and textile designer residing in North Carolina with her three children. Since becoming a single mom, her passion to minister to this group has led her to encourage successful single mom living through The Christian Single Mom on Facebook. Follow her journey through her blog or get a glimpse into her quirky thoughts and inspirations for design and writing on Pinterest.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Kikovic