The challenge facing families is increasing every day. The numbers of single parents are increasing due to death, divorce, and separation. Life is hard with all the trials, tribulations, and seemingly overwhelming problems facing families—and especially those who are single parents. There is hope as we trust in the Lord (see Proverbs 3:5–6). There is a way as we follow Heavenly Father’s plan. We can remember that His plan is motivated by His love for us. There are gospel principles that will, when applied, bring power into our lives. We can measure our success by eternal standards and not the apparent values of society. Our true priorities are more focused because of our situation in loving and serving our children. This, too, is the governing priority of our Father in Heaven and our Savior.
The difficulty often lies in the inability to understand and cope with situations: Why? Why me? Why now? What did I do wrong? This isn’t fair. Can’t Heavenly Father make things all better right now? My children deserve better. Why should they be the victims of this?And the questions stream on. Life in all its vicissitudes stands and awaits our response. There can be but one—We are to press forward with faith, hope, and charity, with an eye single to God’s glory, knowing full well that in the strength of the Lord He will bless us and support us in our hour of need and our times of pain and suffering—for He has paid the price. We can wisely learn from the past, diligently striving to start where we stand, moving forward into the future with courage. We can act with faith, believing in the Lord, for life can become fulfilling. We cannot just live with the expectation of hope in the long distant future; we can enjoy the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives today. We can choose—and in all of this we come to know our Heavenly Father and our Savior, for this is life eternal (see John 17:3). Remember that you can make the difference, for the power of God is within you.
Some ideas to help and support you as a single parent:
- Find power in the grace of God and Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Recognize the power of Christ and His atoning sacrifice. He will support us in this sacred work and holy calling.
- Know that you are endowed with divine power.
- Always remember that others have gone through this and have created wonderful families and are presently enjoying life to its fullest, free from guilt and pain.
- Remember there are people who love and support you.
- Do fun and enjoyable activities. Even a modest budget can stretch far enough to include fun and unifying activities.
Set goals and make plans
- Set realistic and measurable goals. Create some family absolutes and agreements so that there will be no unrealized expectations and everyone knows what to expect from each other. This brings peace to the family as you agree upon the values and standards for the behavior and attitudes within your home.
- Create a schedule for success that requires a routine, yet is flexible enough to eliminate stress. Homework, duty rosters, family prayer, planning vacations (a major item never to be neglected), your monthly calendar, etc. This may seem daunting, but it will prevent chaos and dispel frustration if done with careful planning.
- Budget wisely.
- Somehow and in some way, show each member of the family some attention, praise, loving correction, and some conversation and interaction to assure them of their importance and worth to you.
- Balance your life. Time for family, self, friends, and work (when required) needs to be allocated properly. Remember that you also have a need to be renewed.
- Make lasting memories.
Deal with personal concerns and responsibilities
- You can make the difference. When times are tough it is easy to turn inward. Loneliness is sometimes our constant nemesis. When we find loneliness taking root in our hearts, we can direct ourselves to look outward in serving others.
- Keep up your self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect, and self-confidence; these always seem to be under attack and in question as we stand alone in our situation. Negative thoughts, which have no place in the process of healing, come into our mind. This internal process is not healthy in the healing process of becoming the responsible and dependable parent you want to be. Remember that you were born with self-esteem as a divine child of God and are of infinite worth and you deserve respect. In His strength you can grow and gain in self-confidence. Trust in the Lord. Act with faith. Live with hope and show an abundance of love.
- Discipline your children. They still need to learn right from wrong.
- Forgive. When we have been hurt it only lengthens the healing process of we cannot allow ourselves to forgive. If you cannot do it for those who have hurt you, at least do it for yourself so you can move forward.
Words of Comfort and Encouragement
“I mention next that very large group who are the single parents among us. Most of these are divorcees who carry exhausting burdens in fighting the daily battles that go with rearing children and seeing that their needs are met. For them this is a lonely duty. We must see that they are not left entirely alone. But at the same time, they are sensitive, and it is not right that others intrude and trample on those personal sensitivities. In dealing with them it is essential that the inspiration of the Lord be sought. But far better that we reach out to them with help in excess than that we neglect them.
“Most of them are women who are struggling. They work for meager wages and face terrifying responsibilities in putting food on their tables and clothing on the backs of their children. . . .
“These single parents carry a burden the weight of which few of us really know. In the recent satellite broadcast conference a young mother, a divorcee with seven children, spoke to us. She told of an experience when one evening she walked across the street to carry something to a neighbor. As she left to return home and saw the lights in her own house and thought of those seven lively children with their difficult problems, all of them her responsibility, she felt a great weariness, a feeling of total inadequacy. In the dark of the night she lifted her eyes to heaven and pleaded with her Father in heaven that she might go to Him, if only for a night, to find comfort and strength for the trials of tomorrow. Tender was the response that came into her mind, almost as a revelation: ‘You cannot come to me, but I will come to you.’ . . .
“God our Eternal Father . . . and His Beloved Son can come to the weary and the lonely by the power of the Spirit to comfort and sustain, to nurture and to bless. (Regional Representatives Seminar, March 31, 1989.) . . . You will become a better mother because of the service you give in the work of the Lord” (“Women of the Church,” Ensign, November 1996, p. 69)
(Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 600–601).
“Now to you single mothers, whatever the cause of your present situation, our hearts reach out to you. We know that many of you live in loneliness, insecurity, worry, and fear. For most of you there is never enough money. Your constant, brooding worry is anxiety for your children and their futures. Many of you find yourselves in circumstances where you have to work and leave your children largely to their own devices. But if when they are very small there is much of affection, there is shown much of love, there is prayer together, then there will more likely be peace in the hearts and strength in the character of your children. Teach them the ways of the Lord. Declared Isaiah, ‘All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children’ (Isa. 54:13).
“The more surely you rear your children in the ways of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with love and high expectation, the more likely that there will be peace in their lives.
“Set an example for them. That will mean more than all the teaching you can give them. Do not overindulge them. Let them grow up with respect for and understanding of the meaning of labor, of working and contributing to the home and its surroundings, with some way of earning some of their own expense money. . . .and encourage them to prepare themselves, not only financially, but spiritually and in an attitude to go out to serve the Lord without selfishness of any kind. I do not hesitate to promise that if you will do so, you will have reason to count your blessings” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, November 1995, pp. 99-100)
(Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 600–601.).
“Single parents are becoming more prevalent, and their challenges more demanding. But from time immemorial great people have come from single-parent homes. Children can develop hope, courage, and faith if their mother displays those qualities herself. She becomes a role model, teaching by example to help her children progress. Testimonies are gained by various means. What matters is that spiritual growth goes on and on during life, regardless of the path life takes.
“Today, some women become confused—and even feel guilty—if their life pattern is not like that of the majority. Yet there is no royal road to exaltation. Many divergent paths lead back to Heavenly Father’s kingdom. Whatever our circumstances, we must learn the lessons of life. Our challenge is to learn and not be defeated by the package life hands us or by our attitude about that package” (Marie Cornwall and Susan Howe, eds., Women of Wisdom and Knowledge: Talks Selected from the BYU Women’s Conferences [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 19).
This message of hope is the key to succeeding as a single parent. The Lord will give you the strength to carry on. He will empower you by His Spirit. He will send angels to assist you in your hour of need. Yes, there will be difficult and lonely days. Days when you might want to cry and wonder if things really will really get better. They will!
This article has been adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.