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A House Divided

Lori Haynes Niles

Children-Instead of having an in-house partner to talk to about what the kids are or aren't doing and how issues should be handled, single parents often have no one close enough to lend balance to their discipline challenges or give input to help stave off power struggles. In addition, child-care needs are multiplied, and options for a parent's "down time" are limited or non-existent. In families with more than one child, it's next to impossible to find one-on-one time with each child.

Successful support ministries recognize these needs and find ways to partner with single parents to meet these challenges. Some churches have established mentor programs in which another parent comes alongside the single parent in telephone support, baby-sitting on a regular basis, or taking one child home from church while the other child has a "date" with Mom or Dad. When these mentorships are provided by a two-parent family, children benefit from having the presence of male and female role models.

Vehicles-Transportation and vehicle maintenance are often ongoing issues in single-parent families-especially when headed by women. One church has addressed this problem through its men's ministry, which hosts a car care day every month. During this event, men from the congregation perform routine auto maintenance, such as oil changes, for single parents. Sometimes these men help a single parent shop for a different vehicle, and they offer their expertise in getting the best value.

Households-Similar needs arise in dealing with home maintenance, and your church can mobilize people to be on call for emergency services. Because moves are sometimes necessary in the early days, keep a list of potential vehicles and people in your congregation that might be available for moving items.

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