Lately, I have noticed a scary syndrome sneaking into some of my single parent friends' lives. I call this syndrome "Lone Ranger Syndrome." To be honest, I have fallen prey to it myself, although not nearly as much recently as in the past.
Lone Ranger syndrome is when a single parent thinks he or she can do it all on their own.
Good luck with that.
God didn't create us to be alone. Genesis 2:18 makes this clear:
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
A pet can ease some of the loneliness, but animals aren't the suitable helper God had in mind. Children can be helpful, but they are not the suitable helper that God had in mind either. Genesis 2:19-22 provides more insight into this.
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
So the original design called for a man and a woman to be together, and for a woman to be a helper to her husband. But some of us are no longer in a marriage relationship where we have (or can function as) that helper. God, however, has not left us helpless.
God sets the lonely in families... Psalm 68:6a
So what does this family look like for a single parent home? I believe that it extends beyond the boundaries of the nuclear family. I believe that the "family" God gives us includes our brothers and sisters in Christ.
For some of us, our family will be centered on our church body. The church as a whole will provide some of the needed "missing ingredients" we need help with, whether in the form of finances, meals, or advice and counsel. For others, our family will be centered on our Christian friends, who may or may not attend our own church.
I have the privilege of being friends with several other single parents, and these other broken families have in many ways become my family. My God-given drive to be a suitable helper is satisfied when I give cooking advice to a single dad, or give the children of a single parent a ride to youth group, or point a fellow single mom to a resource that will help her and her children out. And God provides help for me through these families, as well. One friend may look over my resume for me, another may provide me with medical advice, and yet another may get me out of the house when I am in danger of burning out on parenting.
In all of these ways, I fight back against Lone Ranger syndrome. It isn't always easy to humble myself and admit that I can't do it all by myself, but when I choose to see those who help me as a provision from God, it becomes easier. And I praise Him for putting this lonely woman and her children into a family. :-)