Overwhelmed & Frazzled Single Parents


Stressed Parent

Ministering to the children means knowing something about their single parent and understanding the family situation. Situations are not always what they appear to be.

A couple of years ago a leader of a DivorceCare group contacted me. She had a lady from another church in her group and she had received a call from this participant’s pastor. While the pastor was appreciative that my friend’s church was running DivorceCare he was concerned about the lady from his church.

It seems as though he thought his congregant was playing the system. While some single parents do “play the system” my friend knew this lady was struggling in many areas of her life. My friend explained this lady was in a crisis and barely surviving. She was an overwhelmed and a frazzled single mom barely holding onto her sanity.

The minister and the elders in his church thought the lady needed some help and they had visited her home. He found that she had plenty of food; a large screen TV, a computer and other things that he thought were unnecessary items.

She asked if it was possible the children needed the computer for homework purposes. She went onto explain that this particular single mom didn’t have a clue about budgeting. She would purchase huge amounts of canned goods when they were on sale but wouldn’t have milk or bread in the cabinet.

Some single parents, in particular single moms, can become overwhelmed with the divorce settlement. For many their spouse had always handled the finances. Now with school starting and the kids needing school supplies they are clueless as to how to proceed.

Out of guilt some may spend the money on things their children want such as a large flat screen TV. Or they may purchase other unnecessary items such as trendy and expensive clothes to try and soothe their children’s discomfort.

Many others are awarded items through the divorce courts such as a huge flat screen TV or the newer car. But many times they are stuck with items that have large loans on them. Or their credit cards are maxed out by the other parent but they get stuck with the bill.

My friend explained that if the church wanted to help this particular single mom, they might find someone that could walk her through setting up a budget. The church could either purchase a few perishable items, such as milk, eggs and meat or get her a store gift card.

Someone from the church might look into helping her get her children on the free lunch program at school. While we might think this is a no brainer, for some single parents free breakfasts and lunches are not within their realm of thought. They may be so overwhelmed with the loss of a spouse that they literally can’t think beyond the moment.

Things that many overwhelmed single parents might need help with are

  • Love and support from those around them.
    They don’t need someone to ask a lot of questions about what happened.
  • Nonjudgmental attitudes.
    Unless you were raised in a single parent household or have been a single parent, it’s difficult to comprehend all that goes into parenting alone. It’s easy to project one’s assumptions onto the person struggling to parent alone.
  • Help with the purchase of food, school supplies, cleaning supplies.
    While some women have difficulty with budgeting, some men have problems with knowing appropriate cleaning supplies to purchase. And cleaning supplies can prove to be very expensive when you are trying to come up with enough money just to feed your kids.
  • Help with accessing food stamps or free lunches.
    It can be frightening and embarrassing to go through the process of figuring out how to access government assistance. Sometimes just having someone accompany the single parent to an office of assistance will be a much-needed relief.
  • Help accessing government child care assistance.
    Most states have government assistance programs that are set up on a sliding scale and some programs provide free care. There are usually criteria and standards the child care must meet in order to obtain reimbursement from the government so be sure to ask for an approved list of child care programs. Then help the single parent by visiting various programs and helping them secure a placement for their children.
  • Baby sitters that can step in when there is a sick child and the single parent must work.
    Sitters are also needed when the single parent has to work late and someone is needed to pick up children from child care before they close. Sometimes single parents need someone to pick up a child from school when they become ill.
  • Access to mental health experts. This is especially true if a child has a diagnosed behavior disorder, emotional issue or has been abused in any way.

This list can go on and on but the main thing is to take time to figure out what the single parent needs.

While some might look good on the outside, they are frazzled on the inside.

What can your church do to help the overwhelmed and frazzled single parent survive?


DC4K blogs posts are great to use in training children’s leaders and volunteers and they are free.  Subscribe to the DC4K blog here.

Want to learn more about how to start a DivorceCare for Kids group for the hurting children in your community? Click here.










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