Support For The Single Parent Webinar
The single parent faces a series of unique challenges that touch many aspects of life. In this webinar, we consider some of the needs which a single parent and their children might have as they navigate this reality. Brian Sutter and Kaleb Beyer offer hope, counsel, and encouragement for both individuals who find themselves in a single parenting situation and for those who are walking alongside them on this journey. Learn more as you watch this webinar recording.
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Welcome. Again, this is the Support for the Single Parent Webinar. We’re excited to have you with us. I’m joined here on my right by Brian Sutter, one of the counselors here at ACCFS. He’s tied to our parenting content and does a lot of work in that area. And then also Kaleb Beyer is here and he’s a marriage and family therapist, often involved in the marital side of things.
And this topic kind of bridges between those. We’re gonna talk about what it means to be a single parent and some of the unique challenges and different things that you can face there. As I said before, we’re gonna walk through a series of content and then we’ll take questions towards the end.
And we really hope there’s plenty of time for questions to come up. We’d be glad to have going into some areas here. But let’s just some initial thoughts, Brian, Kaleb, as you think about this and just think about this topic, what are some things that just pop into your mind as at a base level supporting the single parent?
I’m guessing Brian, I mean it’s a varied topic. I mean, there’s a lot of people coming into this, a lot of different directions, correct? Yes. I think that would probably be the biggest thing is that being a single parent can be for lots of different reasons, lots of different scenarios.
And, with all of those, there’s nuances. And, so I think that that would be the biggest thing certainly we won’t be able to speak into all of those nuances, but certainly wanna acknowledge that this is very real thing. That it is a real challenge and wanted to at least acknowledge that and see if we can’t speak into that.
Try to encourage that. But also recognize there’s a lot of uniqueness with every situation and wanna certainly call that out as well. And so some of the things we’re gonna talk to, I mean, will be related to children and maybe what they experience. And then sometimes we’ll be talking about the spouse, whether that’s the husband or their wife that’s the single parent and what they’re going through.
So Kaleb, you’ve seen situations where this has played out in real life, right. And so there’s any initial thoughts or things just to kind of keep in mind as we step into this content? Yeah. Certainly echo what Brian said of just the complexity and the nuances of situations.
And also with the single parent, the reality that we’ll get into is both walking through it individually, but also caring for dependents, kids. And that adds a level of complexity. That’s just challenging and hard and I’m thankful that there are individuals that are interested to learn about this and want to lean into this and seek what, how do we support?
Because, both from the standpoint, individuals that step into this, this is not what they expected. This is not what they wanted, and then those who are wanting to come alongside, how do we do that well? And where are the needs? And, so you highlight a key piece there. Some of this, I mean, we’re gonna be speaking to those who actually maybe find themselves in this situation, but we’re also gonna be speaking at times to those of you who maybe are out there who are walking with someone through that desiring to help someone.
Both those lenses, and we’ll try just to kind of bounce back and forth as we get into the content. This is our goal here. We wanna set up, what are the challenges of single parenting, there’s some unique challenges that you come into, and we’ll go into that here in just one second.
And then think about how can a single parent navigate through those considering themselves or their children? And then likewise, considering how do we offer support in those situations? That’s another aspect that we’re gonna wanna get into here. So let’s start with just these unique challenges. What are some of the unique challenges that you can find yourself in Brian, speak to that. As you just, again, it comes in different forms, right. Well, I mean, I think one of the fundamental features about being human, I think in many ways about how God’s designed us, is that we have, many of us almost universally have this really strong desire to belong and fit in.
And, when that is part of a longing that’s inside and then we see we’re in a unique situation that maybe is different from those that we’re around. That in and of itself just really forms a really hard starting point. And I think that would be one of the big challenges. What is my role? What is my place? Who can I connect with in this my situation? I think there’s a place for that. I think there would be a lot of individuals that would be glad to, and yet as the individual in that unique situation, it can feel like you’re on the outside looking in and Satan and shame can certainly feed off of that and breed a lot of isolation.
Sure. And so I suppose it matters too, like how did the single parenting come about, right? Oh, for sure. There’s a difference between if it’s a death or even a tragic death versus an expected death or if it’s a divorce situation. I mean, that’s, yeah. Or, somebody who’s single and they decide to go ahead and move into foster care adoption, so certainly some of those aspects play a role in that.
But all of those can certainly just be unique and therefore can be important to acknowledge that. So, this idea that there’s kind of a norm that’s out there in our minds. This is what it should look like. And then when you find yourself outside of that norm, for no fault of your own, you still have to kind of navigate through the emotions that go with that, the challenges that go with that. So Kaleb, we break it down here, right into different categories. Emotional, relational, spiritual, physical. You can see those on the screen in front of you. There’s challenges in all these areas that single parent can face, right? Yeah. I mean, can you give some examples or just some things that you can lean on your experience to speak to.
Sure. So we can just walk through them fairly quickly. But emotionally, again, it somewhat depends on the situation and circumstance. Is it a loss of a spouse that was unexpected, is a loss of a spouse that in some ways has been a long journey, struggling through cancer or whatever that is, but certainly these emotions of grief and perhaps guilt are gonna come up, but also in situations where there’s divorce or there’s been abuse and there’s separation and that there’s real fears now that stepping into and working through the anger and the mistrust and that just come and unexpectedly at times. And so, but also the fears about, and again, we referenced this about the kids.
What is this gonna mean? What is this gonna look like for the kids that I dearly love? And how is this going to impact them and their future? And that can be really consuming. Relationally, just the changes, both of you alluded to changes in the social community, whether that’s church, whether that’s support group wise.
Now, if it was meeting together with, let’s say potluck with couples and now you’re the only single right parent. What does that look like? And that begins to shift and change in the sense of isolation that so much of our, say structure, but is around family.
Yeah. And the way we see family is through parents and kids. Yeah. And, there’s a good reason for that, but it leads to this sense of isolation. Yeah. So you bring up a really important, I think, distinction here, and we can go onto those other ones, but there’s, there’s the personal that’s going on.
Like, let’s say there’s a grief, whether it’s a loss or whether it’s a divorce or whatever. There’s a grief transitionary piece that’s going on a personal level. But then the situation itself also calls for like navigation of, well, what do I do now?
Or how do I, and if you have children involved, how do I navigate a child? And, help them walk through their emotions while also I’m walking through it myself. Yeah. I mean there’s, multiple components there, isn’t it? Yeah. There really is. And, in some ways in working in the situations, typically we like to break it down and like there’s a crisis mode.
And again, it’s, I say crisis mode, and then I say, well, yeah, there’s situations that it doesn’t feel like a crisis with single parenting. But at times there’s a crisis mode where we’ve gotta focus on just the initial like settling at that point. And there’s decisions that we just take off the table.
Sure, at that point, because all of that is very overwhelming to try to make decisions, I mean, you’re navigating all the emotions and trying to make long term decisions. Yeah. Deal with the immediate deal with the short term. And knowing that the long term is still out there as well.
Leading towards that. And that you’ll probably have to come in and out of that. Like you might move into a season of where the grief’s really intense or the guilt is there, or the fear, and then that’s gonna narrow the scope of what you can focus on and how far out in the future you can. And then as you kind of resettle and reground, then to go from there. And I think that’s where, even in this early space, To think about as the parent, what does it look like to take care of yourself and to navigate this and be in a healthy place yourself. Then that allows you to be able to move into some of those parenting things.
And, again, none of us are in a healthy spot all the time. So it’s certainly not to say that, but just to have that awareness of where am I at and how is that maybe gonna either limit me or impact the way I’m seeing something or how I’m interacting with something.
I just flew not that long ago. And it all blends in the background cuz you hear it so often, but just that simple instruction. You know that when the air mask comes on, you put on yourself first and then you put on someone with you next. But it applies here a little bit is that it’s okay to be a little selfish in the fact of saying, I’m going to focus, make sure I’m okay.
Which again as helpers on the outside maybe that’s really where a lot of the help can be too. Knowing that an individual is walking through hard stuff. And there’s others involved in that paradigm or that situation that you wanna help too. Support. I think in that, I appreciate that example because we do well not to disconnect self care from healthy parenting.
And as if those are separate things, but actually to parent well is to take care of yourself that you’re not in a reactive place, is actually creating some safety and presence there. And so that is part of creating an environment of stability for the kids and relationships and things like that.
There’s two more here. We left off here, Brian. I’m thinking of the spiritual and that physical financial too, but just speak to the spiritual there a little bit. What are some things that you see when a situation like this kind of emerges? Yeah. Kind of connected to what we’re talking about right now.
Just to continue to seek, to grow and establish and rely on that relationship with the Lord. And certainly in the midst of these sort of things, it can really shake our view of God. It can really shake our view of ourselves and that maybe the decisions that we’ve made. And, so it can bring a lot of questions into that even years after being in that single parent situation.
And, so I think just to recognize that and recognize that, I think. The Scripture, certainly the Psalms invite us into being honest and open about our pain and our questions and that our God’s big enough for that. And, in many ways, I don’t say this to minimize difficulty in any context, but certainly in many ways, one of the things that’s most impactful or important is not necessarily the experiences we go through, but the meaning that we put to those experiences. And so as we walk through hard things, if we’re building out and staying connected to a biblical framework of suffering and what does it mean that there is a good God who loves and cares for us, even in the reality that we experience really painful things, if we can hold onto those sorts of meanings, even though we don’t fully understand how it all fits together, we certainly still have questions.
We still certainly are gonna go into anger and frustration and doubt at times. I think that would be just something I would encourage and again to invite people in to helping you navigate that. Even though there may not be fully answers that are sufficient for all of your questions.
And you bring up a distinction there that I think is important so let’s just, two parent, two individual parenting, right? I mean, a healthy couple parenting, that’s hard enough. Oh, right. And one of the blessings of that is if you have a spouse, you can talk things through. And walk through those difficult things with, cuz you walk through life and you go through difficult things. You can kind of process that through together and that can be really powerful. Now we’re talking about processing hard questions of life. And hard questions of God and who he is and his faithfulness in the midst of hard things and that kind of thing.
And, perhaps often doing that by yourself. Unless you can figure out the right level of support to under gird that. And just acknowledging that difficulty and even as you circle back to the relational category, that might be something to think about.
Like is if that’s a space that’s pretty void, would there be something or someone that you might be able to invite into that space to participate in something that could be helpful relationally, but also could speak into that, those spiritual truths. I think that would be something to think about.
Sure. Let’s go on here to the next. Now we’re gonna zero in. Okay. Now, as a single parent, you’re walking through this in some of those scenarios. What are some tips, encouragement, lessons to think about? Kaleb, we’ll start with you on this one. First line there says, focus on being a mother or a father.
What do we mean by that? Or what are some places you’ve seen that play out? Yeah. So, what we mean is focusing on being the role in which you are. So whether that’s being a mother or a father, but also in the way that we relate to kids. So, in sometimes this situation, again, thinking about all of the mixture and confusing emotions that are overwhelming and the questions that come up, it can be easy to, what we would say move into a different role with our kids. With the kids. And so whether that’s in some situations, let’s say that you have a father that loses the wife or the mother that says to the oldest daughter, okay, you’re mommy now.
Yeah. You know, trying to kind of pull them into a place that, again, the desire would be to, at some level, what is healthy. Helping out with tasks around the house, but you don’t feel the role of a mother. That’s a key distinction. You don’t step into that role. And, but even as the parent, sometimes it’s easy to maybe loosen up and lighten up.
How do you, when you’re walking through painful, difficult emotions continue to seek to have structure that can feel really hard to have rather than we put on you’re a buddy or an entertainer. And, going have fun. That is just a strong pull. And I’ve seen it oftentimes in those situations where there’s a lot of guilt. And that guilt can be hard to resist that. Cuz guilt can move us into, oh, I just want to make it just right. Or I don’t want them to experience any more pain, which is a wonderful desire. But then can move us into taking on a different position than what we’re actually in or on the other side of the spectrum, if we’re in that place of just really deep sadness or hurt or anger, we can disconnect. And it’s one of those things to just kind of keep recognizing where we’re at and like, oh, okay, what does it look like to be a faithful mother or a faithful father? Right now. Which is tricky. And I think that second point, there underneath that, let go of what you are not and turn towards what you can influence.
That’s just a healthy principle for all of us to always kind of focus on what’s really within our control, but especially within this kind of scenario here, where there are gonna be things that just by the equation they’re not there. And to try to be everything to everybody, I’m guessing, is not gonna put us into a healthy place.
In general, and again, lead to undue pressure upon ourselves too. Yeah, for sure. You, you highlighted Kaleb a little bit already, let your child be a child, don’t force them into that parental role, or we have arbitrated role there too. Speak to that just a little bit there. This is specifically in situations where there’s been a separation.
So the spouse is, maybe there’s been a separation or divorce and there’s co-parenting, and so the kids are going back and forth. To expect a child to be able to share or keep secrets between the parents just creates an unhealthy dynamic within the relationship that then they’re being responsible for things that is not their responsibility.
Yeah. And letting them be a child. And just navigating the emotion and keeping stability for them, but not putting them in a place where they have to talk bad or good about one parent or the other. Because internally, that creates a lot of conflict for them. And, then communication triangles. Those games we play are just always hard, I mean, for all of us and yet then to bring a child into that role is just not healthy. Brian, this next one, I think has some real hope there. Right. You know, so be open and honest, but zero in on that idea of the framework of the gospel.
What do we mean by that? Or how, how can the gospel speak hope into some of these situations? Yeah. And, I think, as the biblical narrative would tell us that when we sin or when we get into a tough spot, our tendency is to isolate or to move into shame and like, oh, I’m outside of God’s kingdom, or I’m outside of his love.
But the gospel is actually the opposite. The gospel message is that, yes, while we are broken, Christ has come near to us and invites us to move near to him. And I think that’s such an exciting, hopeful message and that we can share that with our children whether we have done something that we need to apologize for or acknowledge as a wrong doing.
And even in doing that, I think that models like, yes, I’ve messed up and yet I can turn to Christ. I know he loves me and we’re welcomed into his family, and I think that is such a great thing to be able to model and again, to just portray this message that there is hope in Christ.
There is hope. And, to display that and to communicate to our kids that directly. You have kind of that similar thing there too, Kaleb, with this idea of don’t speak bad about your former spouse in front of your other, again, thinking maybe a separation type scenario here. Again, open and honest.
I bet there’s times and that could be a really easy thing to put down here on a PowerPoint but a really hard thing to live out in reality. For sure. How do you navigate? I mean, sometimes there’s questions again that how do you respond in situations? I. Appreciate what Brian said. And I think then thinking through that lens as we’re talking about the father or mother that left or was abusive, or how do you begin to communicate with the kids age appropriately about the gospel and about sin and sin’s impact on our lives in a way that doesn’t paint a picture as shameful or bad, this parent, but rather, when there are choices that we make that leads to these consequences that they have a framework to understand the abandonment and the separation outside of, I’m bad, they’re bad sort of framework.
So it’s really helping cradle the situation no matter what it is in a solid biblical framework. And just that bigger narrative, which God speaks into, which doesn’t make the pain go away. You know, it doesn’t make things all get, get better but it does help have that long-term lasting influence and lasting truth impact there. And I think too, one thing I might mention here too, those who are in the support role, we’ll probably circle back to this later. I think sometimes as a supporter we can move too quickly to being positive or excited or trying to make it rose colored.
And I think that would be a space where we wanna be. Certainly we wanna acknowledge and speak the hope of the gospel, but, but also without minimizing how difficult and challenging these situations are, as well as even just navigating what does it look like to be open and honest and how much do you, that’s just all very difficult and tricky no matter how you slice it.
Great counsel, Brian, because we can jump to fix it mode, or let’s just move on. I mean, it’s even like a very basic question. Like, do you talk about, if there’s an identity thing going on there where a person is acutely aware of their situation and feeling really strong identification there, do you talk about it or do you kind of ignore it? Pretend it doesn’t exist? Do you just kind of avoid it and kind of redirect towards something else? Like is there general rules of thumb as to how you walk through that with an individual.
So, it is hard and I think people want to help and it’s not that they don’t wanna help, they just not are not sure what’s always helpful. And so the tendency may be either not to engage at all. Which we wouldn’t encourage, even just to acknowledge itself does a lot for individuals in this situation. This is a hard situation, I’m sorry, that are already feeling isolated, that are already feeling that sense of separation to be able to just engage in conversations, even if it’s not about the situation.
Some, in some cases it’s healthy not to engage about, oh, how are you doing here? But rather just about life. Having a refreshing different conversation that doesn’t have anything to do with what has happened. But you’re seeing as them as another human, as part of the church as part of just relationally. So I think, it’s better to engage acknowledgement rather than not and then ask them. Let them lead, and really be responsive to where they’re at in the situation. Cuz some and each are different in the situation. Some find it helpful. Ask me and I really want to, others may be at a place that they’re not ready to talk and we need to respect where they’re at. And I think that for the person in that role, in that spot of being the single parent, so too, if you’re able to express what is hurtful or what you’re looking for or if this is a time you want to share or you don’t want to share, or when this was said at potluck or when this happened over lunch hour, you know, that was painful.
And even just putting that on the table, helping people know that and sorting through that, if you’re able to do that, I think can be, be helpful. I like the last, there’s a couple points here at the end here. The last one I’ll jump to there first. Just be aware of your children and how they’re going through transitions, knowing that it is a transition.
And so it takes time and there’s gonna be different stages and different places that they’re gonna be at. But the fourth one there, whenever you can recall good things and talk about it. So don’t let the negative, if I’m reading that at face value, don’t let the negative overtake the positive that is still there. It might be take some effort to pull it out, but but be looking for it and be willing to call it out. Which is really a process. The process of grieving is being able to kind of hold onto what you value and what’s really important and even under that, I think particularly as a family, if there are situations, meaning situations like school or church things that you can keep consistent in the midst of the transition in this is really helpful just for the whole family. So if there are traditions you have, being able to keep them, even if it’s without the one parent or the spouse. And then I think too, just recognizing too, just for kids transitions in general, whether that’s if they’re in public school and they go on Christmas break, like that’s just a transition. That’s exciting. And then they’re home for a while and then they go back to school that that’s a transition, and then that we would expect all of those things to be where kind of emotions get stirred up.
And certainly, if there’s parents that are living in separate places, that can certainly bring nuance and difficulty in that, but also just too, that those are transitions we expect, summertime and all of those things. And, kids, when things change, get stirred up.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s really, as you’re saying that, Brian, I think realizing sometimes in this situation, being able to see normal as normal. And not putting in the category of all this comes from single parenting. Being able to piece it out and say, yeah, wow, these are just like normal transitions and it’s hard and kids are hard.
It’s still gotta be things that happen, right? Yeah. It doesn’t stop being. So let’s zero in just a little bit more on the children. So let’s assume a scenario here where you have children involved. And it depends, if you have older children, it’s gonna be different than if you have younger children and how many children, all those kind sof things.
But there’s a whole list here of different, often emotions or feelings which children can experience in these. And so I’m gonna read through it and then we’re gonna zero in on just a few in the next couple slides. But there’s emotions of fear, rejection, anger, guilt, powerlessness, abandonment, loneliness, all of those things can come and rear their heads sometimes, and stay for a while. Or it can be just kind of a quick come and go type emotion, similar to what you would see in grief or grief scenarios.
But now we’re talking about an influence with younger children, and we’ve been called as parents to help shepherd and steward. And so let’s just walk through a few of these more directly. Okay. So, how do we steward fears in children and here’s two of ’em, abandonment and self-blame. Brian, I’m gonna lean on you first, Kaleb, feel free to chime in, but how do we walk through that with a child?
Yeah, well I think, anytime where there’s been a loss or a separation, I think to just recognize that probably in the back of our minds as humans but also certainly as children, there’s gonna be these questions of like, am I to blame or does this mean I’m gonna be left?
So these two that are here on the screen to just be aware that those are likely gonna be fears or concerns or questions in their mind. And even if they’re not articulating them to say, oh, if that is there, how might I be able to speak truth into that? I want you to know I love you and I’m not going anywhere. That even I’m gonna go to the grocery store, but I will be back. You know, those sorts of things and just having your ears open for what might be going on. One of the things you maybe would even consider is like, what are the primary emotions that comes up for each of your children to know what that might be like For me, I know I’ve got one that’s primarily sadness, one that’s primarily anxiety, and one that’s primarily anger.
And, that gives you some insight of what’s likely to show up and what might be some of the messages that come with that. The reoccurring visitors. Yeah. Exactly. And, then how to speak into that and then what our actions can do that can kind of present a differing message than what those emotions might be.
I appreciate that and I appreciate that language there. It says, allow the venting of feelings. I think that’s for myself as a parent, it’s a lesson I’m continually trying to learn, okay, is the child just venting? I just need to know, let them vent. Or is this something that’s a little bit more of a deal where I need to confront or address. And there are times just like in all of our lives when it’s just venting and I’m guessing just even helping give language to a child and provide that space for that venting at times with some kind of the coaching and teaching that envelope around it, that can be a really healthy thing to do as well.
Oh, for sure. Because a lot of ’em at times, as adults, but as kids too, we don’t know exactly what we’re feeling. And so even just talking through it helps us identify that. And that’s a big part of working through emotions is knowing what emotion we’re dealing with and then how to speak into it.
Sure. And, then I think from the parent’s side as well, just their own emotions. So, I mean, this is true of whether, again, two parents, one parent, but is sometimes my reaction comes out of a place of fear, for example. And so to be able to acknowledge to our kids, Hey, I responded here. This is not okay. And this to be able to take responsibility. That gives them space that says sometimes we don’t behave the way we want to. And it’s connected to something and how do we learn to soothe and calm and create grounding that they have places to open up and share some of these things.
I’m smiling a little bit because I’ve never, as a parent, acted inappropriately. I have no idea what you’re talking about. But just that opportunity of, like both said, like giving words to it and modeling it and walking through that, that’s really powerful. So I’m picturing, as a helper, and engaging with a single parent perhaps part of the opportunity is just to take the children for a little bit and just do life with them. And as part of doing life, just walking through what was good today and what was hard today and what are you feeling and those things. And, I’m guessing you can overdo that. And make it too, like an interrogation, that’s not what you’re talking about here, but it’s just walking through emotions together. And, sometimes from a stable place, you don’t need to have words sometimes, especially with the younger kids, just physical presence and touch is huge.
And so just a closeness together communicates something very powerful, sometimes even more powerful than what our words communicate to them. So sometimes maybe if we’re apt to use more words or talk it through, just be intentional about limiting that and just focusing on being present, doing something together.
Yeah, being a constant steady presence. Consistent, in the midst of that. And I think along those lines too, just to sometimes, it’s good to ask questions to kids, even if we know they’re not gonna respond to them. Because what it does, it communicates, hey, I’m here for you and this is on the table if you want to talk about this.
Or you want to ask, or it maybe helps them say, oh, mom mentioned this. I wonder if she’d be okay if I ask about this thing. So just even that presence and also just like, hey, how are you doing today? Or, hey, I know this happened at school today. How are you sorting through that?
Or, those sorts of things can kind of crack that door open even if we know they’re unlikely to respond. So then there’s self blame down there too. This is all my fault. This is something it could be for a tragedy or a death, but it also obviously be for a separation or a divorce type situation.
Kaleb, again, it talks about emphasizing your love teaching about disappointment. What other counsel would you have or encouragement would you have in that area? So I think just we as adults can logically say, well, it’s not your fault, and so it can be easy for us to step into and explain that feeling away. Rather than teaching about disappointment that you have. This isn’t just a thought, but it’s a feeling they’re having in their body that they’re, it’s okay to have that feeling. You can’t make it go away. That’s right. And so by emphasizing your love, your presence, you’re communicating a different message to them.
I think sometimes we quickly say, well, you’re not at fault. You’re, in other words, try to correct through just dismissing. Yes. And so what we have to make presence for is to feel the disappointment. You’re sad or, yes, this brings up this in you and being with them in that.
Help me understand that. Like, so you say that, can you help me understand why you would feel that way or why you would think that way? So, they have a sense that we understand where they’re coming from. And then that allows us then to be able to speak into it. Now again, we don’t always have time and space for that, but when we do, to try to really take advantage of it.
Yeah. And then cradle that and that bigger understanding of gospel or of that narrative. As I’m listening here, I’m like, this is for kids, for children. You too. And fears there. It applies for adults too. We have to walk through disappointment, be able to verbalize that, talk about that, and have a place to put that within our lives.
And, as helpers we can help individuals navigate that, or just listen at least in the midst of that two other ones here too. With stewarding, so you have this idea of peer pressure, whether my kid, my friends, gonna say, and then this, as you can imagine, anxiety starts to pop up.
These are common fears that children in situations like this are gonna experience. Either one of you speak into this peer pressure, how do we help walk through this one? Well, I think it would be just a really good time to do a little bit of just like coaching.
So yeah, you might be fearful that this question comes up. Okay. Let’s say that that does, how would you and just give them coaching on like the very likely or possible questions that could come up so they have a sense of, oh, this is my how I might respond. Or sometimes you might say, depending on who the person is or where they’re at, like to give them the freedom to say, you know what, I’d rather not talk about it, or, you know.
Please don’t say things like that or whatever. And helping them to know how to communicate directly, but also appropriately and kindly. And I think just walking through examples, especially for kids, can be quite helpful. And then, keeping that communication with teachers too.
Let’s assume their children are school age, using teachers as an advocate or as a support person. Can be an extremely important piece of school too. It can, there’s a lot of time that’s spent, if the kids are in public school or even private school away not being homeschooled, that there’s a large amount of their day that’s spent there at the school.
And certainly there’s direct correlation between how kids do emotionally and how they perform academically. And so having an open communication just with how they’re doing and responding to school assignments and even peers, it gives you an insight to things that maybe you don’t see at the home that teachers, coaches are seeing.
That can really help understand how they’re doing. Overall, what I’m thinking of with this one too is I think one of the things that can happen is in a scenario we can go into the I’m helpless, or I have no resources available to me to help navigate this. And so, just even cataloging or capturing. There’s teachers out there and they can help and they can support in this way. And there is this person not here. And they can support and help in this way. I think starting just to kind of realize the assets around you and and use those. I think is a really important aspect there too, in general.
This last one, anxiety about the future. What’s gonna happen to me now? The first point speaks, let’s say you have a scenario where there’s warning ahead of time and you kind of know what’s going to happen. What I’m seeing here is this idea of no more, whenever possible, don’t have surprises. Try to communicate early, communicate proactively, try to be proactive in the planning. Sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes there’s tragic or a sudden type situation, and so you’re in more of a reactive mode. But how do you in general, calm the anxiety that children are gonna be experiencing when their life is a little bit upside down, or a lot upside down. Well, I think certainly part of it would just be giving them space to identify what are some of the fears that you have or when you look into the next three months, what are some of the things that you’re concerned about?
And that gives us some helpful insights because sometimes I think we try to guess at that. Sometimes they won’t tell us, but if they will actually, what we think they maybe are fearful for is really not. And then we’re speaking into this. And so, if they would be able to let us know what are some of those fears, and that may be a common question that we’re asking. And then teaching them just some of the fundamental abilities or skills of like, okay, we can plan for the future and we’re gonna try to do that wisely. But also to hold that with some flexibility because we don’t control those things. But also trusting that God’s gonna show up in the moment, provide us grace and strength to walk through even the big stuff.
And at time we aren’t gonna feel like we have the strength or the grace to do it, but that’s where we are just relying on trusting God more than ourselves. And that’s really hard, but just those would be some of the teaching principles I think maybe to consider. Kaleb, you’ve referenced before, I think earlier just this idea and that third point about family traditions or rituals, right?
So keep certain things the same, provide consistency when possible. Even if it’s gonna look a little bit different. Or even creating new ones. In the transition that together we have a certain board game night or go to Sonic and get slushy night. Or whatever it is that then they have something they look forward to that helps. It’s both consistency but fun time together and where they can laugh or just enjoy being outside of just the other, things that are going on. It seems like there’s a subtle, this idea of there’s times you don’t wanna minimize or dismiss or pretend, feelings, emotions aren’t there, but then there’s also kind of a redirect that’s healthy at times, just to redirect towards things that are stable or consistent or ongoing. Otherwise this bucket over here could get, keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and dominate, whereas now sometimes, let’s realize what is still ongoing. Let’s realize what we still have in the midst of this. It can be a healthy balance there.
And I think one of the really good news in all of this too is that kids are really resilient. Like God’s made them very resilient and so I think there’s good reason too to be optimistic about them being able to by God’s grace, to navigate this and learn how it looks, what it looks like to be able to celebrate in the midst of grief.
To be able to have fun in the midst of challenges that are going on. Great points there. Let’s shift here. So now let’s zero in a little bit more on that helper role. Okay. So, as a helper, we’re gonna support single parenting. How do we support single parenting as a helper?
A couple of of points here, we’ve got this idea of supporting their personal stewardship. And thinking through that, and then we have some different skills there at the bottom. Just to kind of zero in on, Kaleb, go ahead and start this idea here at this personal stewardship. Just generally, what are we thinking about there? How do we walk through that?
So, just an initial thought and jump into that is just learning about this what are the unique challenges, like we already talked about, is a healthy part of supporting single parents. Just knowing, learning about it, understanding it, and the unique aspect for the single parent that you’re helping. But so as you think through the model of emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical needs, certainly, it can be anything from, and it depends on stages. It can be childcare at one stage, but another stage. My oldest kids are now running around at different places. One has a car, but if the single parent is working full-time, it may be just a car, someone to come in and shuttle kids around, that sort of thing. But it also could be like within the local church, so you have a single mother. Is there a father figure, whether it’s an uncle or whether it’s a brother in the church that’s older that can intentionally come alongside and to speak into the kids’ life.
And how can we facilitate that in an intentional way with the single parent that they, again, don’t feel like I have to fill all these roles. But there’s a body coming around. And so for those that are supporting to actively see how you can help out with their time, with their relational, and that gives them space to be the mother and to focus on that. And, so there’s ongoing communication, obviously that happens between the support and the single parent. So those are the things that come to mind, and so you have this idea that, I think sometimes I wanna jump into the emotional space or the spiritual space, and I wanna think about how do I support them emotionally?
How do I help them understand spiritually? That kind of thing. But even just that physical piece which can be a huge thing. Where there was two, now there’s one, and so that one individual is doing double work in many ways. So maybe it’s helping with grocery shopping or maybe it’s running the kids here or there or something like that.
Those can be aspects, depending on the stage of life and where things are at. That can be really, really helpful. And I think the important thing, we said this, but it’s worth repeating, is it really depends on the individual cuz what’s support for one individual may not feel like support to another. And so it is a relationship as a supporter. I wanna help, finding what ways would be most helpful. And, so it’s an ongoing dialogue.
Let’s look at some of these skills. So here’s a few different skills we have listed out here, and I will mention that if you have questions and want to, feel free to chat them in. You can chat them into myself or Isaac Funk is in the background here, one of our colleagues kind of watching the chat. And we have this slide and one more, and then we’ll open up some time for some live questions if you have any too. So just be thinking about things that are on your minds.
Brian here, we’re coaching these on certain skills here. So we have validation, acceptance, speaking truth to yourself, some others there. Speaking into a couple of those, what does that look like? How do you encourage someone to coach someone in that? Well, I think in that validation, maybe acceptance spoke would be just to be able to give the person in a challenging situation, validation and the freedom to validate that it is a challenge. Sometimes what we can do is we can wrestle with ourselves inside and say, oh, it shouldn’t be this hard or it’s been going on for this long, so I shouldn’t have these questions any longer, or I should have figured it out by now.
And in reality, to be able to just start with, okay, this is hard. And to be able to connect with that, allow that to be a reality, then that gives us a freedom to figure out how to engage that difficulty rather than feeling like we should just wrestle it away like it’s not there, which is actually gonna tend to intensify it.
And in most situations. And I think that acceptance piece of just being able to acknowledge it, there is a challenge. And if we can accept that it is present, not that we have to like it, but it is what is here and engage what we can engage in many situations as we’ve walked through life, what our tendency can be is to say, well, I wish it were this, or ow did this happen? Or why this? And all of those are valid questions, but they a lot of times don’t have answers or there’s nowhere to go with them. So to be able to say, okay, this is here. How am I gonna engage it? And to see that there’s a lot of things that you can do and a lot of things you can do well, even in the midst of a lot of things you wish were different would be maybe a few things to, to think about.
That reality is which can, gotta be careful when you use that phrase, cuz that can probably get to be disingenuous. But, it’s a healthy exercise to help someone into the reality. Over time as opposed to continuing to be in the spot of saying, well, if only this hadn’t happened, or I wish this hadn’t happened, and staying stuck in that place.
Kaleb, we’ve talked about this idea of expectations. We live in a world where it’s expected to have two parents and whenever you have a parenting situation involved in some way, shape, or form, and so the reality is we have to walk into those expectations. How do you help someone? How does a helper help someone manage their expectations? For themselves and just for what they and their kids might be walking through.
Well, I mean, the first piece is to acknowledge that we’re all gonna have unrealistic expectations in walking through this because we haven’t navigated this territory before in some ways. But then I think sometimes it’s helpful to, I don’t know if scoping is the right word, but we referenced this earlier, but to say, you know what, for the next three to four months, this is gonna be our focus. And let’s put the long-term stuff, just like put in boxes or create categories to say this is off the table. And to try to have realistic expectations. Otherwise it feels like I’ve gotta do everything now and I’m gonna do it and it’s like, no this is way too much. And so how do we scope in this stage of crisis for months. And, the reality is this takes years. This does not take days, or not a couple months, but this is like the long term.
And so give yourself grace as you walk through that. Yes. I think so. And think in phases in some ways and we’re gonna come in and out, but I think the other thing here is one of the healthy things is when appropriate, there are support groups and individuals that have walked through this and even education about what is realistic and thinking about a transition, single, single parenting. And so I think that’s where also books, resources, things that can help say, okay, I’m being a bit unrealistic to think by this time things are gonna be settled down and we’re gonna feel like we’ve got some structure and things like that.
I have a specific question with that ask and help and support. And then Briann, we want you just to think a little about that rest and just coach us on coaching rest. How do you navigate, offering, helping them ask for help and support and helping and supporting someone? But also moving them to a place of healthy self-reliance. If, that’s the right wording. So, we don’t end up in a place where there’s almost dependency that develops there. Is there, you know, any counsel or any general encouragement about what is, what is the way to kind of just walk that balance?
Cuz I can imagine as a helper, you wanna help, you wanna be there, you wanna help ask them ask for help. But you also don’t want it to be a forever thing. That’s a really good question. So a couple thoughts come to mind.
No, it’s a real thing. Well, yeah, and somewhat you probably get tired of this response, Arlan. It depends. Yeah, I can imagine. But cause it’s so true though. Well, this where my thought goes, it depends on if we are talking about someone who’s in a crisis. In the crisis period where sometimes we encourage supporters to step in and in some cases make decisions. Just because there’s so much going on versus, okay, we’re two years down the road, three years down the road, that it’s more, hey, we’re backing off and it’s more invitational, less instructional in the way that we approach and ask for help and support.
So I guess that’s the initial thought that comes to mind. And I think too, the other thing that comes to mind there to me is just in Galatians where it talks about burden, and there’s two different Greek words there. There’s the burden that’s a smaller one and says, Hey, that’s what we need to be able to care ourselves. And then there’s a bigger burden that we need to invite people into. And, that’s part of being a church community and even helping distinguish that. And I think even just the ongoing nature of being a single parent, you’re gonna need ongoing support because that’s a huge burden.
And at what level and what topics that maybe changes over time. And whether it’s crisis moment or things are going pretty smooth. So as a helper though, having that empathy to say, I can put into my own paradigms, own perspectives and say, well, that should be taken care of. It’s been three years, they shouldn’t need any more help at this point. This should all go away. The reality is it’s an ongoing forever thing. And so it’s appropriate for that burden sense that’s gonna be carried to some level by others perpetually.
Just one other thought here too is oftentimes the situation, in going through grief or separation, divorce, the individual’s in counseling. And so part of the support group also can be in contact engagement with the counselor or that this can be a coordinated support moving forward. That I think can be a healthy dialogue as well. Brian, any thoughts on rest? I said we’d get into that.
Well, I mean, I think just at a high level would be that we’ve been created as finite beings. And part of what that looks like is that God has designed us for rest. That we need rest. Most of us don’t like that. Or we can push against that. And, I think particularly in these situations, to really just be purposeful at like, what does it look like? What does rest look like? And to be able to see it even in the small spaces that maybe you do get it or places where you can fight for it because it is essential. And, I think that as supporters, as helpers, that would be one of the lens for us to be thinking about. What does it look like? How can we create maybe a little bit of space so there’s room for some rest? I think that would be a good lens to consider. Those respite times or those break times.
And then coaching, then they’ll probably ask for it or realize it’s okay. Cuz you would feel guilty, I can’t take time off. Yeah. That’s good. One last thing and then, like I said, we’ll open up for questions here just a little bit. Here’s a graph or maybe a series of questions that could be helpful to use. Every situation is different, but it might bring some help here. Kaleb, I’m gonna lean on here in a second here, but just, so who am I now? Where am I going? How will I get there? Who will help me? How would a helper use this? Kind of share it off with somewhere.
Just ask those questions and have them help self identify or just process through that a little bit together, or where have you seen this most effectively used? Certainly with individual single parents that are walking through this, because if you think about it, just with the role shift in identity that is tied in very heavily through this transition but also creating a vision moving forward for what this looks like and we don’t even know, but at least starting the dialogue and the engagement as far as directionally where we’re headed. And what can be helpful, who can be helpful. It’s that relational support that’s gonna support us along the way. Cuz sometimes again, we can either move to just kind of disengaging and being so overwhelmed that we don’t engage. It’s too much. Or the other side, just getting caught up in all the fears and these questions and there’s other questions. Just help us engage dialogue for the journey and important aspects to think of and consider and to be intentional about in that journey.
I appreciate that. This handout with these slides is gonna be on the website after the effect along with the recording. So you can review this or, or print this or just think about these questions, but it builds that context or that dialogue. I’m gonna open it up if there’s anybody who wants to unmute their mic, ask a question, something that we did not get into or that you just wondering about.
Please feel free to do that in the next few minutes that we have left here. And while we’re waiting to see if anybody has any questions, Brian and Kaleb, I’m going to be asking you just any last thoughts or anything you wanna share into this space, just thinking about how do we navigate single parenting, whether we’re in the midst of it or how do we support those who are doing so?
Any thoughts? Brian, I’ll start with you. I think the thing that I would just want to leave with is just a message of encouragement that it’s a challenging spot to be in, but I think also, one that God, uses often to minister and protect and help kids. And there’s even a fair amount of research out there right now that really just says, what outcomes for kids as far as, just wellbeing and things like that is really high, comparable, in fact, to parent homes. So I think too, just to be encouraged by that, like I think, Satan loves to just tell us that we can’t do this, or our situation isn’t gonna turn out. And, certainly there’ll be things that we’re not guaranteed certain outcomes, but just an encouragement. But I think that there’s a great deal of hope and stepping into what we can do and, and that’s all we can do. And just an encouragement to do that.
Kaleb, any last thoughts or any general encouragement? Yeah, just I think also in thinking about the opportunity as believers, as a body to continue to learn and then grow. And how do we navigate the complexities of brokenness and how it’s manifested. And I’m thankful a number of helpers are just wanting to step into this and think about it where there’s sometimes not great answers, but just being learners and one communicating a desire to learn and come alongside is really encouraging.
And I think for us together to say, how do we support, how do both the single parents continue to speak into this in ways that as the body, we’re not handling it well. And we’re, and sometimes unintentionally, many times, oftentimes unintentionally, but it leaves the message that you’re not part of this or you’re not included. And so that this is an ongoing dialogue, back and forth.
Well, thanks for joining. As you can tell and as you hopefully picked up from the information today there’s no one size fits all and it’s not an easy situation. But God is big and the body is big. And, as we walk into this humbly and with that learning attitude and always pointing to the bigger picture of who that is and the strength he gives, it won’t make everything go away, but it can help along the way to provide some consistency and some love and some clarity there.
So thanks again for joining the webinar and look forward to having you again in the future. Thank you, Brian, Kaleb, for being part of it today. Bye.