Recently a leader of a divorce support group contacted me which reminded me how important it is for those in the church to know a family’s situation before drawing conclusions. She has a lady from another church in her group and she had received a call from this participant’s pastor. While the pastor was appreciative that my friend’s church was running DivorceCare he was concerned about the lady from his church. It seemed as though he thought his congregant was playing the system. While some single parents do “play the system,” my friend knew this lady was struggling in many areas of her life. My friend explained this lady was in a crisis and barely surviving.
The minister and the elders in his church thought the lady needed some help, and they had visited her home. He found that she had plenty of food, a large screen TV, a computer and several other items that he thought were “unnecessary items.” My friend asked this pastor what types of foods were in the home. She asked if it was possible the children needed the computer for homework purposes. She went onto explain that this particular single mom didn’t have a clue about budgeting. She purchased items on a whim, such as huge amounts of canned goods and fast foods.
Some single parent become overwhelmed with the divorce settlement and since their spouse had always handled the finances they may spend the money on things their children want such as a large screen TV. Or, it could be that the spouse that left intentionally left the large screen TV for the children. Other divorcing parents feel guilty and tempt to soothe the guilty feelings by purchasing extravagant gifts. While some single parents start out with nothing, many others are awarded items through the divorce courts, or even remain stuck with items that have large loans associated with them.
My friend explained that if the church wanted to help this single mom, they might find someone that could walk her through setting up a budget. The church could either purchase a few perishable items, such as milk, eggs and meat or get her a store gift card. Someone from the church might look into helping her get her children on the free lunch program at school. While we might think this is a no brainer, for some single parents free lunches are not within their realm of thought. They might be so overwhelmed with the loss of a spouse and the income that went with it, they literally can’t think beyond the moment.