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What does the Bible say about single parents / parenting?

single parenting, single parents
Question: "What does the Bible say about single parents / parenting?"

The Bible references several single parents who became such through a variety of circumstances. While some are thrust into the role of single parent by the death of a spouse, many others become single parents due to sexual immorality or divorce. While God’s intention was for children to be raised by both a mother and a father, He also has compassion on the parent who is raising a child on his or her own. God’s instructions about parenting apply equally to the single and to the married (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

The first single parent identified as such in the Bible is Hagar. She was an Egyptian slave who became pregnant with Abraham’s child as a result of Abraham and Sarah running ahead of the Lord’s instruction (Genesis 16:1–4). She was to be a surrogate, which was never God’s intent. After the birth of Hagar’s child, God came to Hagar in her distress and let her know that He was with her (Genesis 16:10–12). Single parents can learn what Hagar learned. When she cried out to God, He drew near. Hagar called the Lord “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:31). Despite how lonely single parenting may be at times, those who know the Lord can take comfort in remembering that they are never alone. God promises to be a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows and orphans (Psalm 68:5).

Another single parent highlighted in the Bible is Lot, who became a single dad after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24–26). Because Lot’s wife disobeyed the Lord’s instruction, she was killed in the judgment of Sodom. Lot escaped with his two daughters; unfortunately, it seems his daughters had embraced the values of Sodom and Gomorrah. They got their father drunk and committed incest with him. Each became pregnant by Lot, creating one of the messiest family situations ever recorded. Single parents can learn from the mistake that Lot made in raising his children with the world’s values. Many parents, especially those working to be both father and mother, feel overwhelmed in going it alone, and they are tempted to abdicate their parental responsibilities and let neighbors, relatives, or the state raise their children. It takes extra work, but the single parent must learn how to raise his or her children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

The most important thing for any parent to remember is that God created our children and has a plan for their lives. They were entrusted to us, regardless of our family situation, and their Creator expects us to take the responsibility to raise them in a godly manner. Single parents may find this more difficult than those with partners, but when they engage the help of their brothers and sisters in Christ, their children can thrive. Jesus had a special tenderness for children (Matthew 19:14), and single parents can rest assured that He cares for their children as much as He does for those raised in two-parent homes. When single parents model purity, honor, and honesty before their children, they are earning the respect that will help those children emulate that behavior. Single parents can rest in the promise that God’s grace will fill in the gaps as He helps them raise their children (Psalm 27:10).

Recommended Resource: Single Parenting That Works: Six keys to raising happy, healthy, children in a single parent home by Kevin Leman

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