”Some days she has no idea how she’ll do it. But every single day. It still gets done.” – Anonymous
In mid-April I had the privilege of “attending” the Virtual Heartbeat Conference put together by Heartbeat International – the most expansive network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the world. The event was to be held in Seattle which, for a small nonprofit with not a lot of funds – an absolute plus. Long story short it was scrapped – sort of. However, they decided their information was too valuable not to share. So they went virtual. And it worked. It was a fantastic experience and as a ‘first timer’ I was blown away by the sheer amount of prolife voices coming together. It was humbling. And to think I am one of them – yea.
Over the next few weeks or so I’ll try and share some of what I learned and what I hope to embed in our own center here in Lynnwood. One of the talks that made an impression I had not initially chosen to attend. And it was just chance I stumbled into the ‘workshop’. It was titled “Empowering the Single Mother” and it was presented by Shannon DeGarmo, author of a few books including “Ignite”, “Single Moms 101” and “The Bounce Back Woman”. Shannon’s talk centered on the inner workings of a single mom. What goes through their mind as they go about their day? The night? What thoughts occupy their waking and sleeping minds? How do those thoughts impact them as people and as mothers?And lastly how can we as people of faith who minister to the unborn, the unplanned, the alone – help?
I’ll start with some shared statistics that are as startling as they are heartbreaking. I looked up some as well and this hit pretty much up and down the board – these are from SingleMotherguide.com
80% of single parent homes are led by single mothers and a third of those live in poverty. That’s a big number.
4 out of 10 babies are born to unwed mothers and two thirds of those are born to moms under 30 years old.
13.9% graduated high school and 34% have a college degree. Those numbers by contrast are awfully small.
But even deeper than those numbers, for me, were the revelations about the psychological and neurological impacts on these girls.
In general, single parenting aside, only 2%-4% of women think they are beautiful and three-fourths of women with low self-esteem engage in negative behaviors.
The effects of low self-esteem are far-reaching and hard to break free from. Socially withdrawn, self-neglect, not trusting themselves, and an expectation of little or no improvement in life to name a few. We know this – as women, as mothers with daughters. The consequences of low self-esteem can be devastating in so many ways. So now picture those same negative thoughts running rampant through the mind of a young single mother.
A whopping 75% of single moms scored in the mildly depressed range. What can we do? Relationships matter. What we think of ourselves matter. What we think our children think of us matters. How can we help?
There were some beautiful verses that came to mind that touched on this –
‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” – Matthew 10:29-31 NIV
“For I know the thought I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
How can we live these words for those among us who are alone yet never alone? A child can fill in holes and bring light to her mother’s eyes but she is but a child demanding of her mother at all times.
The isolation of single parenting is profound. I can say that with much certainty as I was once a single parent myself. Happiness hinging on a child is an unrealistic burden. The realization you are not whole can make it hard to move forward.
You are not meant to do this on your own. We say that on our Next Step website. We are not meant to be alone. Now more than any other time in recent history has the ability to connect with others been so wholly needed and so wholly absent.
If you know a single parent – reach out.
If you are a single parent – reach out.
Peace be with you all