Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

We were fortunate that Diane was able to be a stay-at-home mom. She quit working at Memphis State on the day Matt was born (1982) and was able to remain at home with the kids until Chris entered first grade (1999). I know not every family makes this choice or is even able to make such a choice, but it was a blessing to us that she could be at home with our children. Since she started teaching, we've had a few times when Chris was sick and we had to ask, "Okay, who's staying home?" It's always gone pretty smoothly. We've talked about whose schedule was more permissive on certain days, and we tried to alternate days. But now Chris is out until at least Spring Break. So -- who is the stay-at-home parent? Well, we're trying to split some of the responsibilities, but Diane has generously taken a leave of absence from teaching until the break. One thing that has struck us (again!) through all this is how amazing the women and men are who are in single-parent families. As we took turns sleeping during those ten days at Cook's, and now as we split duties during the night to care for Chris, I've thought again about those amazing people who do this by themselves. It makes me wonder all over again -- how can we, as the people of God, be "family" to those single-parent families among us? How can we carry part of that load? How can we encourage? How can we pray -- and then back our prayers up with action?

17 Comments:

  • Mike,

    1st, I'm intrigued and have ordered "Blue Like Jazz". 2nd, your blog has become even more of a blessing to me as I drew from everything you've shared with us recently, as I spent last evening in the ER. My beautiful daughter was crossing an intersection (with a green light) when her car was struck by another that ran a red light. She was not seriously injured and for that we a grateful beyond words. As my husband and I drove to the accident site I asked God to let the people I encountered see Him in me. But when we arrived and saw the destruction and all the flashing lights all I could think of was my baby. I willed myself to breathe and stop trembling so that I could calm and reassure her. I remembered how you calmed Chris with "Love that boy ...". I tried to summon compassion for the other driver (who appeared to be under the influence) but when I looked at her all I could think was "You could have killed my little girl!", so I just stayed away from her. I slept on the floor by Kaitie's bed, though sleep is a relative term, as you know. Today we follow up with the Orthoped. Dr. re. a possible separation of the AC. Mike, last night we got a glimpse of your life, and you unknowingly helped us get through a difficult time. I hope we will see you in Nashville in the fall at Zoe and can give you a physical hug, but for now consider yourself cyber-hugged. Continued prayers for Chris and his friends.

    By Blogger Lisa McD in FL, at 2/09/2005 05:05:00 AM  

  • I was raised by a single parent so I know a little of whence you speak. But I still think Carolyn Salmon will go down in history as one of the "Iron Women" in that role.

    By Blogger Val, at 2/09/2005 05:07:00 AM  

  • Thank you.

    By Blogger SparkyDiva, at 2/09/2005 06:27:00 AM  

  • Mike, thanks so much for bringing up those that single-parent their kids. My older sister has done an amazing job with her two who were 14 and 9 when their dad abandoned all of them. They are now 25 and almost 20, and are great people. She had lots of help with a wonderful church family and friends from her workplace(plus her biological family), but she definitely shouldered the load day in and day out--sicknesses, teen angst, financial burdens, getting herself out of debt that had occurred with deadbeat husband, etc.,etc...She, of course, gives her Heavenly Father the credit for being able to do any of it. I will have to say, it shows who she depended on to help her. There will always be issues her kids have to deal with that mine have never experienced, but all in our family have learned a lot from watching her and those kids of her, make a one-parent family work. Hats off to ALL of you out there raising your family without the benefit of a spouse. May the rest of us be a source of encouragement and help to you! God Bless!

    By Blogger annie, at 2/09/2005 06:39:00 AM  

  • Mike, thanks so much for bringing up those that single-parent their kids. My older sister has done an amazing job with her two who were 14 and 9 when their dad abandoned all of them. They are now 25 and almost 20, and are great people. She had lots of help with a wonderful church family and friends from her workplace(plus her biological family), but she definitely shouldered the load day in and day out--sicknesses, teen angst, financial burdens, getting herself out of debt that had occurred with deadbeat husband, etc.,etc...She, of course, gives her Heavenly Father the credit for being able to do any of it. I will have to say, it shows who she depended on to help her. There will always be issues her kids have to deal with that mine have never experienced, but all in our family have learned a lot from watching her and those kids of her, make a one-parent family work. Hats off to ALL of you out there raising your family without the benefit of a spouse. May the rest of us be a source of encouragement and help to you! God Bless!

    By Blogger annie, at 2/09/2005 06:40:00 AM  

  • May God richly bless you, Mike Cope!! :o)

    It will be difficult, but I promise not to write a 1000 page tome on your blog re. what we can do, including prayer, for single parented families. In order to attempt to keep my emotions out of it, I'll use the bulleted format.

    *Yes, by all means, pray for single parented families!!
    *Look around you - you'll find a mom/dad sitting alone with their kids, trying to sink into the woodwork, hoping to have a couple of minutes of rest during church services. Sit with them. Ask if you can help with the kids and give the parent a chance to really listen and participate.
    *Get acquainted with the SP family, really get to know them. Exchange phone numbers, ask the family to dinner after church, find out what the kids' activities are and participate with them. If it's a band concert, attend and sit with the parent. If it's a soccer or ballgame, show up, sit with the parent and root for the kids.
    *Pray for these families and for the church family's missional care for these families.
    *Include this family when there are special days, such as Mother's or Father's Day - one or the other parent is going to be missing in the kids' lives - you can help fill that void.
    *Volunteer with the Single Parent Family Ministry at your church [presuming there is one and hopefully there is!!]. These families need interaction with mature, married Christian families and volunteering in the ministry activities is one way to do so.
    *Urge your church leaders to tweak announcements, both verbal and written. A couple of examples. Instead of saying, "Mom and Dad, bring your kids to...." How about saying, "Parents, bring your kids..." or "We need "X" number of couples to help with...." "We need "X" number of people to..." And even better to now and then make specific mention that single parented families are included in a church-wide invitation or event.
    *Did I mention, Pray for these families?
    *A few stats re. Single Parented families:
    48% of kids with math problems in school, live in single parented families. (mentors are really needed for these kids too)
    25-40% of our population are single parents.
    28% were never married, 31% divorced, and 5% widowed, 28% are separated from the kids' other parent.
    76% of 2nd marriages and 85% of 3rd marriages fail (Hmmmm - maybe we can help the new Single Parent to slow it down about dating and remarrying. Marriage is NOT the answer to a single parent's problems, to the contrary, at least in the first 5 years of single parenting)
    40% of all weddings have one party that has been married before.
    65% of those weddings will include children from previous marriages.
    30% of all weddings will give birth to single parents.
    51% of the country's single parents earn less than 30K per annum.
    50% of the country's single parents are below the poverty level.
    And
    60% of all families by 2010 will be step-families.

    **And speaking of a missional church activities:
    95% OF ALL SINGLE PARENTS DO NOT GO TO CHURCH.

    And lastly (finally, y'all say lol)

    May I suggest a book? Theresa McKenna's "The Hidden Mission Field"

    Again Mike, bless you for expressing sensitivity to the difficulties single parents face! My constant prayer is that our churches would become more actively aware of and involved in the lives of these families, fulfilling one of their greatest needs and desires - inclusion in the church's family life. Theresa McKenna made a statement at a conference in October that applies here. "Single parents can become a factory of church leadership." But it takes open acceptance and inclusion of the single parented families in our church activities.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 2/09/2005 07:02:00 AM  

  • Thanks as well.. I lived with my mom only throughout mid and high school. Once I started going to youth group, becoming a Christian etc, people started asking me about my parents.. they would give the pitiful oh thats too bad answers but never DO anything for her like she would be a wounded puppy by insulting her independence as a single mother. Looking back I never really noticed that until now, but I can see how much of a difference it would have made for her to see the people her daughter are loving and spending time with put some time into her. I hope I can do that for someone someday.

    By Blogger Phyllistene, at 2/09/2005 07:32:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Since I first read "Righteousness Inside Out" and then had the priveledge to meet you when you moved to Rocketdyne and I was preaching at West Union in Granby, you have touched my life in so many ways. From reading your books to listening to you speak at the Tulsa Workshop, you have inspired me to grow and to reach ever higher.
    But I know that you have touched my heart and soul so much more since the accident and my discovery of your blog. Know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many in SW Missouri. We have tried to keep everyone abreast of the situation at Mt Hope on a regular basis.
    As a side note, I have had the extreme pleasure of meeting your Mom & Dad in the last several months and see where you got your strong faith and love for the Lord.

    God Bless all of you.

    By Blogger David Cheek, at 2/09/2005 07:32:00 AM  

  • Amen, Mike! Amen, Val! Here's another one...Kaye Price...now Kaye Price Hawkins. She is another great parent who, for the formative years of her childrens' raising, was single.

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 2/09/2005 08:19:00 AM  

  • Ft. Hood, Texas is not too far from where we live. A few of the families of soilders serving in Iraq live around here. Military Moms and Dads (the ones left behind) have such a burden to shoulder! They are not single, but they have to carry on as if they are with the added fear that a phone call could come at any time making their single "tour of duty" a permanent thing. I know two Moms from Kolby's school whose husbands are in Iraq. These women deal with everything on their own and do it with a smile on their face and love in their heart. They are heros just like their loved ones stationed so far away.

    By Blogger SG, at 2/09/2005 08:28:00 AM  

  • Mike, Mark and I often ask ourselves this question, and that is after one of us has barely sucessfully navigated a couple days (or an evening) alone with the girls!

    I think part of the answer goes back to yesterday's post--relationship. I think part of the challenge is relationship in today's culture: relationship takes time, and who seems to have it? Relationship takes energy, and how many --including the single parent--has much excess? And, relationship takes courage, and in today's society, all parents (I think) have a sense of urgency to protect those boundaries that keep those who might hurt our child (or ourselves) at bay. I think that would be especially frightening to the single parent, who is relying on him or herself to make those judgements about who to let in the door of their lives.

    I am certain that scripture contains the wisdom and encouragement to overcome those challenges, but our humanity makes it hard to apply!

    I would just add that I think the message we send as we attempt to help is important. I think it is easy send to unwittlingly communicate: "You are helpless" rather than "You are capable--and loved!"

    By Blogger Beverly, at 2/09/2005 09:26:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Beverly, at 2/09/2005 09:26:00 AM  

  • Mike, great points! We can start by treating them with love instead of condemnation... it amazes me how often we are still treating single parents like they have some kind of disease! My sister is a single parent of three wonderful boys. The oldest is now in med school, the youngest is a freshman at Lipscomb. But she wound up leaving "The Church" because of how she was treated by others. Thank God she found acceptance in the Presbyterian church where she now serves faithfully as an elder. I know she would have appreciated true servant-style help-- but even more so, just love and accpetance. Blessings! sd

    By Blogger SkipD, at 2/09/2005 02:15:00 PM  

  • If you know a single parent, help the child or children learn to do things for their parent - mom or dad. So many single moms (or dads) never get a birthday, Mother's (or Father's } Day or Christmas gift because no one has taught the child to give.

    By Blogger Coping, at 2/09/2005 02:26:00 PM  

  • As one raised by a single parent who was active in church, I can vouch for the importance of support. Though I was oblivious then, now I know that many times that church helped my mom buy us food and new school clothes, but never made us feel ashamed or treated us with anything less than respect. My hats off to churches who are agents of Christ's mercy to single parents.

    Oh, and it was nice to see you at Heavenly Rest today. :-)

    By Blogger Jared Cramer, at 2/09/2005 03:00:00 PM  

  • Thanks so much for these testimonies from those who were the parent or a child in a single-parent family. And Lisa - oh, my. Thanks for telling us. It's such a frightening thing, isn't it? Prayers for you, friend-from-a-distance! Mike

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/09/2005 04:05:00 PM  

  • As a military spouse, I've had 2 stints as a single parent... 1 was for 2 months (I was pregnant with our 4th child then) and the second was for 3 months (kids aged 9, 5, 3 1/2, and 18 months). The first go-round, we had no real relationships in our church.... I couldn't bear sitting in worship and struggling to keep all 3 kids in line. I would bring the kids to Sunday School, sit in the nursery with the youngest (18 mo) and then pack up the kids and go home afterwards. It was a very lonely time. I received most of my support from my next-door neighboor in base housing.

    By the time the 2nd deployment rolled around, we had finally formed true relationships in the body. I had a support network like no other: young 12- to 14-year-old girls were asking *me* if they could come help clean my house, do my laundry, watch the kids so I could go get groceries alone... They sat with me and the kids; other parents treated my children like theirs and gave them lots of attention and love. One brother who lived nearby kept my lawn mowed. I could go on and on.

    I think the person who mentioned that few people have or make the time for relationships is right. How do we solve this dilemma?

    By Blogger Karen, at 2/09/2005 09:16:00 PM  

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