“Serving Single Mothers,” Ensign, Feb. 2009, 68
I was a widow for three and a half years with five small children before I served as stake Relief Society president. I have had many opportunities to help others become more aware of single mothers and the challenges their families face. I know from experience how important it is for those who attend bishop’s council to pay close attention to “the cries of the widow and the fatherless” (D&C 136:8). Home teachers, visiting teachers, and other fellow ward members can do much to help.
“Let us know if you need anything.” This common home teaching and visiting teaching offer may be helpful to some members, but others are too shy to ask for help. Instead, what if we were to observe what needs to be done and offer specific help? “We just mowed our yard. Would you like help with yours?” Offers to help with yard maintenance, as well as home and mechanical repairs, can lighten a family’s load tremendously.
If you are a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, you might also offer priesthood blessings at the beginning of the school year, when there is illness, or when comfort is needed. Establish a good friendship so the family will feel welcome to ask for or accept an offer to receive a priesthood blessing.
Seek opportunities to be a mentor. Particularly if the children in your family and those of a single mother are of similar ages, offer to help with hobbies or school and Church projects. You might attend some of their activities if it’s feasible. When you and your son attend a father-son activity, include a boy who has no father at home. Pair a priesthood-age son with a home teacher who is a good example. Teach basic skills such as mowing the lawn, changing the oil in the car, fixing a flat tire—things a dad might teach a child.
Support the mother. Single mothers may seek insights about child rearing or overcoming feelings of loneliness and other frustrations. They need to feel comfortable turning to a bishop, home teachers and visiting teachers, or ward friends who are truly willing to assist them as they provide for their families and try to maintain a gospel-centered home.