When many people think “single parent” they automatically think of the single mom. While single moms do make up the majority of single parents, single dads are on the rise.
According to research published in 2013 and released by the Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends in the article “The Rise of Single Fathers” minor children living in a home headed by a single dad has increased about nine-fold since the 1960s. In 2011 the number was 2.6 million minor children living with dad.
The number of children living in single parent households has been on the increase since the seventies when divorce rates began to skyrocket in our country and around the world. Men are now beginning to pick up the slack in raising minor children. It is estimated that almost one-quarter, or 24%, of single parent homes are now a single dad home.
Within the Christian realm, single dads will continue to bring their children to church. For the most part my experience has been that single dads are
- More likely to get their children to church events on time
- More likely to have children that attend consistently
- More likely themselves to be involved in children’s activities at church such as sponsors or helpers
- Many times likely to scholarship children from other single parent homes for camp or church events where there is a cost involved
- More likely to be matter of fact about religion and explaining denominational beliefs and the plan of salvation to their children
I’ve also noticed few churches provide activities and events for single dads or include single dads in church wide activities. Many churches make it hard for a single dad to stay involved at church. Some churches make it difficult, if not impossible, for a single dad to serve in any ministry within the church.
Pew research goes onto state
- Single dads are typically less educated than married counterparts
- They are likely to be young
- For the most part single dad households are better off financially
- Single dads are more likely to be involved in co-habitation
What does this mean for your church?
Take time to think through what your church provides for a single dad. Ask yourself these questions
Do I know which children in our children’s area live with a single dad all of the time or half shared time with a single mom?
What activities is our church providing for a single dad?
Do we provide childcare for men only events? Remember single dads who have children 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, is there a Christian lady who could mentor the daughter, take her shopping for female items?
How do we encourage a single dad to be active in 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 and youth ministries.
One single dad I interviewed for this article said he doesn’t blame the church because he hesitates to get himself 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 in that class.”
Some single dads get lumped in with the college singles or the career singles. They have a different agenda in that they are raising children. If they are older and have teens, they do not feel comfortable in singles groups.
Classes such as DivorceCare help and are a start to get single divorced dads involved in attending church. Single & Parenting will help a single dad learn how to parent alone. DC4K, DivorceCare for Kids, will help dads get help for their children.
What is your church doing to encourage single dads and the children who live with their single father?
This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on August 14, 2103.