There are several topics that can be painful or sensitive for single parents.

In many churches single parents do not have separate Sunday School classes designed specifically for parenting alone. The single parents are included in married couple classes, women/men classes and even in singles classes. Or they may be under someone who has not personally experienced living the life of single parent and may not understand all the issues of parenting alone.

There are several topics that can be painful or sensitive for single parents. Another issue is single parents might approach a passage of scripture differently than married couples or someone never married.

Let me give you an example. Recently I was in a Sunday morning class that was discussing Genesis 39 where Potiphar’s wife tried to convince Joseph to go to bed with her. Because Joseph refused he was thrown in prison. While in prison the Lord allowed him to find favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

The topic of conversation was supposed to be on forgiveness and the favor Joseph found because he trusted God. However, some single parents saw a completely different topic. What they saw was the fact that Potiphar’s wife was free to remain sinful and be able to hurt other people. While they understood the forgiveness aspect, their wounds from being betrayed were still open and painful. Their wounds from their ex spouse overshadowed the topic of the lesson. The wise teacher led the conversation down a different route using soft and comforting words.

As you include single parent families in your church be sensitive to the life events they are facing. Most single parents don’t want to be singled out. They do want to be included in the family of God.

Sensitive topics for single parents, and how you can help

1) Holidays

Holidays can be painful for single parents especially when their children are at the other parent’s or if there has been a recent death of a spouse.

How you can help:
Perhaps class members can be encouraged to invite a single parent over on the actual holiday. Many single parents will be alone on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day.

2) Recent events

Some recent events in the life of a single parent can cause the single parent to be overwhelmed. Perhaps the single parent has to go back to court—a highly stressful event.

How you can help:
Provide a time of prayer so other class members can pray over the single parent. Always ask permission though before you ask a group to pray for and over a single parent.

Find someone who can escort the single parent to court. They don’t need to do more than just sit with the single parent for support.

3) Labeling

Labeling all single-parent homes as “broken homes” is a huge mistake. After a single parent heals and their family adjusts to all the transitions from a two-parent home to a one-parent home, many single parents enjoy healthy homes.

How you can help:
Encourage single parents to share their stories of successful family events with the Sunday school class. Maybe one of their children excelled or got an “A” on a difficult subject in school.

Celebrate these events and times with the single parent. Have the class sign a congratulation card to the child. Phone the single parent and exclaim how proud you are of their parenting alone.

4) Inferring their spiritual life is different

Whether they are parenting alone by choice, or if their situation is thrust upon them through death, divorce, or unmarried situations, all single parents want to be treated as children of God and members of your class or group. They are not “bad,” “weird,” or “different.” They are souls needing the Lord just like you.

Provide short devotionals for single parent families. Encourage them to do devotions and quiet times differently, such as:

  • Praying for each child as they fold their laundry
  • Posting short scriptures on their bathroom mirrors so they see it first thing each day
  • Post scriptures on their iPhones
  • Waking up to praise songs on their alarms and keeping the praise songs playing while trying to get everyone dressed and out of the house each morning
  • Signing up for online devotions that come to their iPhones automatically each day
  • Giving them free resources for devotions specifically geared to their situation. For example: DivorceCare and GriefShare daily devotions

5) The plight of doing everything alone

A child is in the band, in the chorus, on the debate team, or playing a sport is an energy drain on any parent—imagine handling that alone! These single parents need a lot of prayer because they must maintain a high energy level all the time. Remember some single parents are on 24/7 fifty-two weeks out of the year. There is no one else to help out.

How you can help:
Encourage class members to go with the single parent to these events. Do you have an idea how lonely it can be to sit at a high school track meet or a football game by yourself? On Sunday ask for a brief update on the event.


Single parents don’t need to be coddled or treated as second-class citizens. They need you, church family and the love of the Heavenly Father.

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Linda Ranson Jacobs

Author Linda Ranson Jacobs

Linda Ranson Jacobs is one of the forefront leaders in the areas of children and divorce and single-parent family needs. Through her years of personal experience and research, Linda now guides churches in providing effective ministry to single parents and their children.

More posts by Linda Ranson Jacobs