“What can I as a home or visiting teacher do for the single person assigned to me?” Ensign, Feb. 1980, 66–67
Diane E. Cleveland, Young Special Interest representative of the Bountiful Val Verda Second Ward and mother of two children As a single person myself, I see home or visiting teaching as a wonderful responsibility and opportunity to use my talents to the best of my ability. It’s a great way to learn to love people.
But I have found that some of my married friends, busy raising families, seldom take time to think about what it’s like to be single—and thus find it difficult to determine and meet any particular needs that the singles they visit might have. A good example of this occurred after a workshop for stake and ward Young Special Interest leaders. My friend Mary asked if feeling excluded was actually a problem for singles. In reply I asked her if she had any single friends. Yes, she did. Then I asked Mary how often she and her husband entertained their single friends. Never, Mary said, shocked at her discovery. Since that time she and her husband have spent more time with their single friends.
I’m not talking about emotional or physical dependence—we as singles need to be sensitive to the needs and concerns of our married friends as well. But let me share with you the example of my visiting and home teachers. They have found ways to help with particular needs that I and my daughters, Elizabeth, thirteen, and Suzanne, eight-and-a-half, might have. These visiting and home teachers have put themselves in my place and asked themselves what they can do to help me. Then they have acted on their answers.
For instance, these days many women are acquainted with the traditional homemaking arts as well as with male-oriented tasks such as mowing lawns and caring for the car, but it never hurts to check with a single woman and make sure that her car has had a lube and oil change in the last few months, that the snow tires are on for the winter, or that the tires are being rotated regularly. Perhaps a recent widower can use help in learning to wash clothes properly or to fix balanced meals.
My two home teachers offered to hang a picture and fix a broken curtain rod for me. They gave my children their business cards with office and home phone numbers and told Elizabeth and Suzanne to call any time of the day or night if they needed help or just needed someone to talk to. This act was especially welcomed because I had been sick, and the girls knew that these two brethren would come instantly if they were needed, just as they would do for their own families.
Visiting teachers’ obligations might not end with the once-a-month message. It might be a good idea to see if a single parent’s children would like to go to the park or go swimming with you and your children. This kindness might help to alleviate some of the pressure that working parents feel keenly during summer months, when their children have more free time. Suzanne has been invited to go fishing with the father and son who live next door to us. Paul, our home teacher, has taken my girls with him when he visits his grandparents. We love to be invited into our married friends’ homes for family home evening. I enjoy having another adult’s viewpoint on the lesson.
The Lord taught us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This is the key to righteous and happy living for all of us, married or single. So singles, too, could find ways to strengthen ties with the marrieds in the ward by being sensitive to particular needs. Those without children might occasionally enjoy helping a married woman who needs a break from the duties of motherhood. We can include the recently returned missionary in some of our activities. The list goes on and on.
As with any responsibility, it is essential to care. As we do, our desire to help will grow, and our ability to sense ways to help will develop, whatever our marital status may be.