It's not quite a quiver full, but it's a start!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Culture of Brokenness

Our first son was born in April with summer right around the corner. I was excited that I would soon have extra minute-by-minute help with my son. However, I soon began to joke that I was a "single mom". Married to a baseball coach at the most prestigious high school in our area was a big responsibility. Since he was a teacher as well he left at 6:30 every morning to get to work on time. School was over by 3, but then he had practice or, even worse, a game or two. There were many, many weeks that I wouldn't see him for days at a time. He left before I got up in the morning and got home after I had fallen asleep. I began spending a lot of time at the ball field just to see him through the fence or across the field. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

The truth is though, I was not a single mom. As much as I felt "alone" there were so many aspects I did not have to deal with. My hubby was bringing in an income, I could call him on the phone, and because of the amazing man he is he actually sacrificed his time and would take off of work if I was having a particularly hard day and felt I couldn't deal anymore. No matter how late he got home or how early he left, there was still a body in the bed next to me every night. I didn't have to worry about who would teach our son about the "boy" things, I didn't have to work multiple jobs to stay afloat, I didn't have to do so many things that single mothers have to do. And, thankfully for all of us, there was a break in between baseball seasons that I got to spend more time with him than most women ever get to spend with their hubbies.

There are 15 million single parents in America. Every night one-thousand teenagers became single moms. 50% of babies today are born to single mothers, and we all know the devastating statistics of how many marriages are destroyed by divorce and how many children are left with single parents because of this. What is happening to the over 22 million children in these circumstances?

Single mothers do deserve credit for the amount of work they have to devote to their families. Most of them work several jobs to provide for their children, as well as playing the role of both mother and father. It is an unimaginable task, and there is certainly a reason why it is not the way the family was designed to be. There are many wonderful single mothers who do everything they can to make sure their children are protected, provided for, and loved. But there is just no denying the statistics that come from a society in which single parenting has become the norm.

The most staggering statistic to me is the way these children are being forced into a life with a single parent. Of all single mothers in America 41.3% gave birth out of wedlock. Almost half of single mothers made a choice to keep their child in a single parent family. Given the statistics regarding what happens to children of single parent homes the fact that it is a decision many women chose literally breaks my heart. Yes, I understand the bond between a mother and a child. Yes, I understand the blessing of children. Yes, I know there are many single women who do raise godly, respectful children, but take a moment to put those emotions aside and take a look at the facts instead.

Almost 80% of the prison population was raised by a single mother. The strongest indicator of if a person will end up in prison or not is if they were raised by a single mother. 72% of juvenile murderers and 60% of rapists come from single mother homes. Around 70% of all teenage births, dropouts, suicides,  juvenile delinquents, and child murderers are products of single mother homes. I almost don't want to continue with such heart breaking statistics. 90% of homeless and runaway children, many of whom I have worked with and heard their heartbreaking stories. Throw in here the statistics about victims of human trafficking and you can also see where children of single mothers take up a vast majority there as well. 71% of adolescent chemical and substance abusers are products of single mother homes. They are more likely to be victims of sexual, physical and mental abuse and neglect, have poorer physical and mental health and academic performance.

Take away the factor of a single mother and the lines of race completely disappear when it comes to the statistics of crime. The link in roughly SEVENTY PERCENT of our most disturbing social issues is a child being raised by a single mother. In 2003 there were 1.5 million babies born into single mother situation. Less than 1% were put up for adoption. "What is the problem with that?" you may ask. "No one can care for a child like their mother can," we have been taught. Well, the less than 1% of babies who were put up for adoption rather than raised by single mothers do not fit into the statistics stated above. These children fare far better than the children who are raised in single mother homes. Obviously, this is a choice only the mother can make, but I have met many young mothers who felt pressured by society or their families to keep their children for the simple fact that it was "their" child. Despite an actual desire for that child, despite an actual way to provide for that child, despite any support in any way. The only "support" they got was the advice to keep their child.

These statistics do not point to the single mother individually or to her actions as a mother. They simply point to the circumstances of growing up with a single mother. This is not meant to condemn any mother who is raising her children by herself, but these are the facts. This is the truth about what happens to children raised in single mother homes. It represents a depressing, horrifying trend for the young people of our country. Could you imagine if someone told you there was a way to lower crime and suicide rates by 70%? That there was a way to create healthier people and a more successful society?

Now how does it make you feel to know that less than 1% of churches have a sustainable ministry for single mothers? This is absolutely the saddest statistic of this entire situation.  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" James 1:27. Now I'm going to take some freedom with the translation of this verse taking into account the culture of Jesus' day and the assumption that there were very few children born out of wedlock due to social customs and also the assumption that a single mother would be discouraged from keeping a child causing that child to become one of these said orphans. Based on these assumptions in my personal translation of this verse it would say, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans and single moms and their children."

So why is it that such a minuscule, I would argue even non-existent, number of churches are even following this Biblical mandate? We as the church should be stepping in to abolish theses statistics, to fill in the gaps that these single mothers are trying desperately to fill. Taking into account the fact that the divorce rate in churches is equal to that outside of the church and also taking into account that there is a number of teenage pregnancies also happening inside of the church we are alienating a large number of our own members. You can find these statistics everywhere you turn, but to find hope and to find a way to step in and help fill the gap check out The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. If you are a single mom, know that despite these gut-wrenching statistics there is always hope, that the Heavenly Father is more than adequate enough for you and for your children. But also know that you don't have to do it alone. I pray that God will place in your path godly men and women who will do whatever it takes to help you in whatever ways you need them to. I pray that we can end this culture of brokenness.


  1. I am a mother of three beautiful Children. And For a time was a single mother. I am very Blessed that I have been chosen by God and that he kept me in the church, so I would raise my children there.Its by Gods good grace that I survived. I am truly grateful for women like Jennifer Maggio at Healing Place Church who started one of the first single mom's ministries and travels to churches every where helping them set one up in other churches.It is very sad to read the statistics of this.It makes me realize all the more how good God has been in my life.Not all woman choose to be single moms. It was through divorce that I became a single mom.But today I am no longer and so grateful to my Lord and savior. Thanks for the post Krista.

    1. Nicole, Thank you! Love you and respect you, girl! God has done amazing things in, through, and to you. I'm blessed to know you!

  2. My mother was widowed when I was three years old. Since then, she has lived as a single woman and has fought tooth and nail to raise me well. The Church did what it could to support her, but she was the one who did everything she could for me. Mom's like that should be praised.

    1. Interestingly, the children of widowed mothers do not fit into these statistics. Perhaps it is because they are more likely to receive help from the church, their family, and their community. Your mother should definitely be proud of the things she has done for her family, as should all single moms. Like I said, it is an unimagineably difficult situation that they are in.

  3. What eye opening statistics on single moms! I knew that kids who are products of divorce fare far worse than their peers who are in a stable two parent home environment, but I didn't realize how bad it really was. Now you have got me thinking about our church's outreach to single moms.

    Thanks for the mental poke!

    1. Kim, the best response anyone could give to this post is to say that it has them thinking about what their church is doing for single moms! Of all the statistics, as shocking as they all were, none hurt my heart more than knowing that despite the obviously desperate need there were fewer than 1% of churches that are able or willing to help fill that need!


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