My family and I had dinner with Evan Doyle last night. He was in town for a few days this week and it’s always good to see him. Last summer he spent 8 weeks with me as an intern for our kid’s ministry.
We had several great conversations about curriculum, resources and the fact that the 90’s lacked great music. However, he asked a really compelling question that’s had me thinking all day. We’ve talked a lot about family ministry and efforts we’re taking to connect with families. His question was, “What are you all doing to help families of single parents or blended families?”
I honestly couldn’t give him a great answer. It’s not to say we’re not doing a lot of great things for families and how we’re developing strategy to equip families, regardless of whether they’re conventional, blended or single parent families. But we’re not doing anything in particular for single/blended families. Actually, what alarmed me the most was my family bias. A few years ago I tested out some material by creating a parenting small group and worked through a study. Every family I invited was a conventional family. Sometime this summer or fall, I’m going to be doing some more work with family resources and I can’t tell you that I’ve given any thought to inviting any single parent. This alarmed me because I think I have a bias when I think of family… and that’s wrong.
Reggie Joiner shares this a stat often. Only 23.5% of kids live with both of their biological parents. I think its a real problem that I have the bias that I do. The funny thing too is that I grew up in a blended family. My half-brothers were a lot older than me, so it didn’t really feel much like a blended family. I don’t know… it was just a good wake-up call and reminder to me, something I need to work on. I’m not convinced that I need to start up programs or develop events specifically for single parents, but when I think about family, I need to look through a different lens than what comes natural for me.
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Back that bus up. You think the 90’s didn’t have any great music?!?
Maybe if you were an ORU student, you didn’t get introduced to all the great music out there!
And…ya, I’m with ya on the single parent concerns. We’ve changed much of our verbiage to connect with these families.
I personally didn’t feel that the 90s had much of a culture of its own. 🙂 I think it had lots of bleed-over from the 80s, but didn’t really have any great culture of its own. Christian culture in the 90s was legit, but secular culture was kinda wonky.
And thanks for bringing this up on the blog Kenny! I think it’s something really interesting to ponder.
I don’t think it is so much a bias as it is a blind-spot. Very well meaning people are not saying there is anything wrong with single-parent or blended families, they just don’t recognize that there are different challenges for these families or that they are a whole family unto themselves. My son and I make up a whole family unit. His dad and step-mom live across the country from us and are an extension of our family. We skype with them just like we do other far away family members and keep up our connections.
One year our kid’s ministry had the kids write a prayer for their mom’s on mother’s day. My son brought home one prayer with my name and his step-mother’s name on it because he wanted to send it to her too. I understood but a simple fix for that would have been to help him write 2 or to recommend he write a second one when he got home. By the way, having projects like that done the week before would have meant we could have put it in the mail to her so she would get her copy by mother’s day.
Another consideration are our military families who are often what I call part-time single parent families because one parent is away on duty. These guys are whole families with one half of the parenting team far away. Plus these parents are often far away from their own families.
I’ll tell you, I really appreciate it when ministries remember that we are all part of the family of God. They don’t have to single us out or make special accommodations. Just include us in the group when you talk about families and make our kids feel as normal as possible.