Single parents find themselves in charge of it all: paying bills, juggling schedules, completing household chores, maintaining a happy home, and all without the emotional and physical help a spouse can provide.
"No one is prepared to become a single parent" (Heuston 5). When we marry, death or divorce is not a part of our life plan. But there are healthy ways to adapt to your new family structure and to your role as a single parent.
Rely on the Lord
It seems that every LDS book or article on single parenting contains some version of this important advice: "Rely on the Lord" (Kent 44). No wonder: the Lord loves you and wants to help you.
Feel His Love
Turning to God can open you to "Feel the Lord's love for you" (Heuston 16). Sometimes we isolate ourselves from the Lord because we feel overwhelmed and overburdened; and, therefore, out of touch. But the Lord is there for you.
Live the Gospel Fully
Another suggestion from a single parent is to "Live the gospel fully" (Kent 44). Be "active" in the Church. "Be there. It's where you belong. Sit closer to the front than you usually do . . . Have your children sit close beside you . . . assign yourself to smile and speak to several people" (Hanson 19).
Though it's easy to be caught up in the very real difficulties of going it alone, Kimberley Heuston suggests, "Relish the special opportunities of being a single parent. I am always too busy, but that also means that I can't really spend my time on anything that is not of urgent importance to me or my children. What a luxury!" (Heuston 24).
Forming friendships with those in situations similar to yours can be uplifting. "Other single parents are a source of companionship and insight into common problems" (Kent 45). Additionally, many have been called to minister to you. They can better serve your needs when you reach out to them as well. Explaining to your bishop your situation can help ensure that you receive callings that are thoughtful and inspired.
Whenever possible, do things that nourish your body and spirit and help you grow. "As a single parent, I have to lift myself up, no matter how hard I fall, because smaller feet are following in my footsteps" (Berg 49). Is a walk your favorite way to unwind after work? Those thirty minutes spent on you will pay large dividends.
You are spending almost all of your time serving others, which can be a blessing. "Serving gets us outside ourselves. It opens the windows of heaven and teaches principles that may not come in any other way" (Hanson 19). Because of the amount you carry alone, now is also an appropriate time to allow others the blessing of helping you, informally and formally. Sister Hanson suggests, "Ask for good home teachers" (19).
One single parent shared that sometimes "even Church programs can seem burdensome . . . sometimes the very programs intended to aid families can seem more like demands than opportunities for growth" (Kent 44). Allow your priesthood leaders to know how you can best serve and be served.
For those of you not in the single-parent role, don't hesitate to reach out to those who are. Reaching out does not have to take on grandiose proportions. One author shares, "You don't have to gush and you don't have to fix it" (Heuston 151); a simple acknowledgment of a single parent's pain can be helpful, especially during the initial phases of dealing with divorce or death. And Heuston advises, "One particularly useful gesture of sympathy is a written letter or card. It is not only meaningful in the moment but can be tucked away and resurrected at a later time when the need is great" (151).
A single parent recounts, "I hang onto knowing that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" (D&C 122:7). I think of the Savior himself in the council in heaven saying, "We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" (Abr. 3:25), (Hanson 22).
"While life certainly changes in death or divorce, it still moves forward. And whether the parent deals with the changes in faith or despondency can influence how the children respond" (Brown, qtd. in "Gospel" 63). By relying on the Lord, you can move forward in a positive way.
Kimberley Burton Heuston concludes her book on single parenting in LDS families this way, "I've learned that I can't do everything. I've learned that what I can do is enough" (147).
Berg, Lori. "Not a Broken Home." Ensign, February (1993): 49.
"The Gospel and the Single Parent." Ensign, January (2003): 63.
Hanson, Kaye Terry. "For the Divorced Single Parent." Ensign. September (2006): 19-22.
Heuston, Kimberley Burton. Single Parenting: Help for Latter-day Saint Families. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1998.
Holland, Jeffrey R. "Look to God and Live." Ensign, November (1993): 13-15.
Kent, Janet. "When You're Mom, and Dad." Ensign, April (1985): 44-46.