Help for single dads is often a low priority for churches. When many people think “single parent,” they automatically picture the single mom. Although single moms do make up the majority of single parents, single dads are on the rise.
According to the article “The Rise of Single Fathers” (from Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends), minor children living in a home headed by a single dad has increased about nine-fold since the 1960s. In 2011, about 2.6 million minor children lived with dad.
Why Churches Need to Offer Help for Single Dads
The number of children living in single-parent households has been increasing since the 1970s. Back then, divorce rates began to skyrocket in America and worldwide. Men are now picking up the slack in raising minor children. An estimated one-quarter of single-parent homes are now a single-dad home.
Within the Christian realm, single dads will continue to bring their children to church. In my experience, single dads are:
- More likely to bring their children to church events on time.
- Making sure their children attend consistently.
- More likely to help with children’s activities at church.
- Many times likely to financially support children from other single-parent homes for camp or church events that cost money.
- More likely to be matter-of-fact about religion and explaining denominational beliefs and salvation to their children.
But I’ve also noticed something else. Few churches provide activities and events for single dads or include them in activities. Many churches make it hard for single fathers to stay involved. Some churches make it difficult, if not impossible, for single dads to serve.
Pew Research states:
- Single dads are typically less educated than married counterparts.
- They’re likely to be young.
- Most single-dad households are better off financially.
- Single dads are more likely to cohabitate.
What does this mean for your church?
Consider what your church provides in terms of help for single dads. Ask:
- Do I know which kids live with a single dad all the time or half-shared time with a single mom?
- What activities is our church providing for single dads?
- Do we provide childcare for men-only events? Remember: Single dads have no one to leave the children with at home.
- Do we have older, married family men who can mentor younger single dads?
- If the single dad has a daughter, can a Christian woman mentor her and take her shopping for female items?
- How do we encourage a single dad to be active in the church family?
- What ministries are available for a single dad who wants to serve?
- Do we encourage kids in single-dad homes? Or do we make it hard for them to feel like part of our children’s and youth ministries?
One single dad told me he doesn’t blame the church because he’s hesitant to get involved. He said, “Many single dads do it to themselves by not participating. I mean, look at our single-parent class on Sunday. I’m the only single dad there.”