My friend from church, Lindsey, has two children, Bea and Harvey; they have different dads, and she’s not married to either of them. If that sentence made you balk, you are not alone.
For many people, Christianity calls to mind a certain progressive order of things. We go to high school, then college where we meet our beaus. We graduate, get married, get a house and then perhaps a dog; and then we have babies—that’s when we have a family.
Christians who progress through life in that order typically receive lots of support, are showered with gifts, and feel the nodding approval of their churches and communities. Those who stray from that order can become easy targets for stinging criticism and, worse yet, the blame for society’s failings.
The Road to Single Parenting
Lindsey is smart and works for the governor of her state. She made some choices for herself, and life made others. Bea was born when Lindsey was 19 and trying to escape an uncomfortable home setting. Lindsey tried to make it work with Bea’s father, but he ultimately wanted no part in forming a family.
The poor treatment Lindsey received from Bea’s father, his family, and their lawyer broke her naivety. Yet she, like single parents everywhere, still hoped to find someone who would love her with a solid, lifelong sort of love.
Lindsey was engaged to Harvey’s father when she became pregnant again, and before long she began to see the darker parts of his personality. “His bad moods were always directed toward me and never Bea, so I thought, Well, that’s not so bad. Maybe I can handle this. It’s better than the isolation I had before and having to always doubt myself.”
It wasn’t better, however, and the relationship with Harvey’s father unraveled soon after his birth. Lindsey is now a single working mother of two children. And she is not alone.
There Are Lots of Lindseys
Lindsey represents a large and fast-growing demographic in American society: the single parent. Approximately 1 in every 27 Americans is a single parent, and 83 percent of the nearly 12 million single parents are women.
Yet single parenting, though it has become more prevalent in the 21st century, is not a new phenomenon. Single mothers are mentioned in the Bible, many of them widows. To lose a husband in biblical times was a massive blow to a woman’s social and economic standing.
All single parents face a significant challenge. Raising children is exhausting work even when partnered with a spouse. The responsibility of earning an income, leading a household, parenting, and, for some, continuing education, can be truly overwhelming.