Question of the week: How do I keep from being discouraged when ministering to single parent families?


“It seems like we just get a single parent settled in their new lifestyle and then all of a sudden “boom” and everything falls apart.

  • Their kids get out of control
  • Their finances erupt into a crisis mode
  • The ex shows up on the scene and makes all kinds of empty promises and they fall for it only to show up on our doorstep yet again
  • They start dating too soon and “fall in love” and we know it’s not going to work
  • Their kids get sick and their job is threatened
  • They stop coming to church and visit the bars instead

“Our ministry team really does want to help so how do we keep from becoming discouraged?”

It can become discouraging because we know if they would take time to heal from the hurts, rely on the Lord, take their cues from scripture, and work on developing a relationship with Christ, their lives wouldn’t be so chaotic. Let’s face it ministering to single parent families can be messy.

Over the next few posts I’m going to be sharing some great single parent success stories. Did these success stories happen over night? No! They didn’t even happen over weeks but over months and some over a couple of years. You see it takes times to create dysfunction and it takes time to turn that family around and create a healthy functioning single parent family.

Tips for staying encouraged

1. Pray for the single parent and the children by name.

  • I assign each single parent a day of the week. I let them know which day is their day to be remembered in prayer.
  • I also assign children a day of the week but not on the same day as their parent because the children have different needs.

2. Ask the single parent and the children how you can pray for them. Help them be specific.

  • Get back with the single parent often to see how the prayers are being answered.
  • Rejoice with the children when their prayers are answered. Remind them you prayed for that issue and now God has answered.

3. Keep track of the positive things that happen to the single parent and their children.

  • You will need to review the “positives” periodically so you can stay encouraged.
  • Remember to include the minor things that happen. Little things like a successful shopping trip to the store with preschoolers can be used to encourage single parents.
  • Sometimes minor situations to us, such as the daycare being closed on a holiday but the parent has to work, are a major issue to the single parent. Be aware and be careful not to downgrade these “major” situations.
  • Find a way to keep track of the minor and major issues. I do this through my prayer lists by noting when a prayer has been answered. If it was a minor thing that happened and wasn’t on my prayer list, I just make a note of it in my prayer journal so I’ll remember a success story.
  • Remind and show single parents how God has answered their prayers before and He will again.

4. Encourage single parents to tell their success stories. This will help them and you to stay encouraged. It also helps other struggling single parents to see that God really does help single parents and there is hope.

5. Remember working with single parents and their children is a ministry. Their lives are in God’s hands. He has a plan for them and we can be used of God to gently steer them toward God and His plan for their lives.


  • When a single parent sings a solo at church, we can rejoice.
  • When a single parent gives their testimony to the entire church, we can rejoice.
  • When a child from the single parent home becomes the valedictorian, we can rejoice.
  • When a third grade child runs up to you after church to show his “A” on his spelling test, you can rejoice.
  • When an out-of-control little kid becomes a doctor, we can rejoice.
  • When the fifth grade girl accepts Christ as her personal Savior and follows in witnessing through baptism, we can rejoice.

Time and time again we can rejoice when we see single parent families heal and become contributing members of our church family. And there is nothing as encouraging as rejoicing with the Lord in these situations.



6 thoughts on “Question of the week: How do I keep from being discouraged when ministering to single parent families?

  1. Great article Linda. Thanks for sharing. I stay positive by rejoicing and focusing on blessings and change. I keep the end goal in mind. Looking forward to sharing this with others.

  2. This is a phenomenal post. As a single parent I can’t count how many times these types of practices have helped my family through church members and close friends. I think one of the biggest things many other single parents, as well as myself, struggle with is loneliness and isolation and the tips you have laid out in your post do so much to combat those negative feelings. It’s amazing what the smallest amount of reaching out to someone can do to change the day or even the life of a parent struggling through such a difficult time. Thank You!

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