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).
Many parents, especially those working to be both father and mother, feel overwhelmed in going it alone. Fortunately, there is help available through the church and often through relatives and neighbors. In some cases, a single parent is truly incapable of raising his or her child, at which point adoption may become the best option for the child. In all cases, the single parent must do what is necessary to ensure his or her children are brought up “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).