Article and photo by Sarah Thompson, Urban Alliance’s Director of Communications & Volunteer Mobilization.
Samantha Rose faces a juggling act each day. She navigates the demands of two jobs, raising her son and maintaining her home, which at times can be overwhelming. But recently, she stepped out of her comfort zone and into a small group of women that empowered her to continue on her journey of motherhood with renewed sense of hope.
Having also experienced the challenges of being a single parent for nearly thirty years, Gail Parker, Office Administrator and Single and Parenting support group leader at Calvary Church of West Hartford, knew the importance of providing support to women who are in similar situations.
“The life of a single parent is a challenging one,” she explained. “It’s a different walk we walk, but we are still parents of children that need to be provided for, nurtured, protected and brought up to know and love Jesus. That really makes us the same as every other parent; the difference is we do it alone.”
“I learned about the Single and Parenting group at my church, and at first it was a struggle for me because for all of my life I tried to not be labelled as such,” shared Rose. “So, there was a bit of hesitation to go, but once I went I came to the conclusion that being aware that someone is a single parent is not a call for sympathy, but it’s more for empowering them and encouraging them.”
“Their needs are different than those of the traditional family,” explained Parker.
The group touched on many topics especially relevant to single parents.
“One of the biggest things that I took away was instead of focusing on the discipline or the action of your child, to work on the heart,” said Rose. “Disciplining tends to be temporary. It gets resolution for maybe a day or two but then it is back to whatever it was before. But then also, working on the heart allows you to understand the heart. I ask myself, do I have too much of an expectation? Or, are my expectations not being communicated? By diving deeper, you can come to the realization that there is something more going on with your child.”
Rose also shared how the group helped with self-awareness and communication with her son’s father.
“One thing they stressed is that with co-parenting you can’t necessarily control the other person. The only thing you can control is your reaction, so that’s what I’ve been working a lot more on. I’m more careful with my tone now.”
Throughout the 14 weeks that the group of eight women met, new relationships were fostered.
“The group gave a real feeling of support, community and spiritual resources to those who participated,” shared Parker.
“It made the church feel a little smaller,” added Rose. “We are all in different stages of parenting but the common theme between us all was that we are way harder on ourselves than anyone else. It’s funny, you can give reassurance to another parent but you don’t take it yourself. With everyone talking and sharing it made us feel more as one. So that was really good. Words of encouragement help so much.”
Urban Alliance provided grant funding to help Calvary Church of West Hartford offer a Single and Parenting support group. To learn more about Charis, Urban Alliance’s initiative to help churches and organizations reach and serve people who are facing mental, emotional or relational struggles so they are able to cope with life’s challenges and heal from painful experiences, click here or contact Angela Colantonio, Urban Alliance’s Director of Implementation, Health & Basic Needs Initiatives.