A quarter of all children in the United States are being brought up in single parent families, and 84 percent of the roughly 13 million single parents in the country are women or single mothers who are rearing one or more children alone. Showing their challenges and opportunities, a video aired this weekend pays tribute to them.
The online video by Truth In Action Ministries opens with Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, daughter of late televangelist D. James Kennedy, saying while most people would know about her father, "I'm also so thankful for my mother, whom my dad loved and appreciated so much. Over the years, her influence, like all moms, has been profound in making me who I am."
Jerry Newcombe, the ministry's senior producer and co-host of the television program, Truth That Transforms, adds, "History is full of examples of remarkable moms, who've been instrumental in rearing their children to love God and do great things."
Life is not easy for single moms, but God is there to help them in the challenges they face.
"I don't think anybody expects to be a single mom; it's not exactly the plan," says a single mom, Cherlise, whose husband left her four days before Christmas, the day she was also laid off. "It was very difficult."
"I never expected to be a single parent at all. It was a shock to me," adds another single mom, Susan, who has a 7-year-old son. "Out Heavenly Father is his father. There's a verse in the Bible that says that 'God is the father of the fatherless,' so I always reflect back on that Bible verse."
It's not easy for children either. "I don't get to see my dad much... little bit sad," says a boy being raised by a single mother.
"Single mothers are doing a heroic job trying to cover what is the job of two parents and most ideally, married parents," says Jennifer A. Marshall from Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. "They are dealing with having a roof over their head, putting food on the table, making sure that the bills are paid, that the lights stay on, that the heat stays on, that those children get off to school, that they get their homework done when they get back home, that they don't hang out with the wrong crowd of kids."
Single moms long for the support of a husband and father to their children, they long for the support of society around them.
Sen. Jim DeMint, president of The Heritage Foundation, pays tribute to his single mother. "It was both a tough experience and a good experience growing up with two brothers and a sister and mom working all the time," he says. "We struggled, but I learned a lot and I created my work ethics, and I think it's what really shaped me into what I am today."
Senator Tim Scott, newly appointed to fill DeMint's senate seat, was also raised by a single mother. "I think back to my young days growing up in a single parent household, I think about the tough times that my mother worked 16 hours days, she went to work every day, all day long."
At this year's National Prayer breakfast, Dr. Benjamin Carson, neurosurgeon at John Hopkins Hospital, recalled, "I was a horrible student... I had a horrible temper, poor self-esteem, all the things that you would think would preclude success. But I had something very important, I had a mother who believed in me."
Is there more that we as the church can do to encourage and assist single mothers?
"They are very capable women, they're strong but studies show that they have a much higher chance of ending up in poverty, as a single mother. And single moms have greater health problems than their married counterparts," says correspondent and producer Ginny Mooney. "Those problems eventually will affect the children as well. So the church being Christ in the world today, I think, really need to step up to the plate."
Mooney suggests that churches can form single mom support groups and organize mom's night outs, for example.
Fellow members and neighbors and friends can also be supportive by, for instance, bringing over dinner for single moms. A group of dads can get the boys together who's dads aren't around and say, "Let's go on a fishing trip, let's go bowling, we'll teach you how to shoot a bow and arrow."
Even a little support can be a priceless gift to single mothers.