Monday, 5 March 2012
I'm a single christian parent
I am not a single parent, far from it, Mike is a great husband and father and as involved in Rachel's life as work allows him to be. But when it comes to church and church events I am a single christian parent. This is something which quite a number of families have at our church and it is just fine within our five walls. In fact our church goes the extra mile to helping those of us who come on our own with the kids; in so much as I didn't even have to think twice about Rachel being OK when I was presiding yesterday. Parents on our own with our kids are supported and accepted and it is understood that we are normally the minor, if not the non earner in the family and therefore have less to give than other families. More than that our church is fantastic when our spouses come to social events, they are warmly embraced with no expectations, pressure or judgment.
Elsewhere it is not so easy, elsewhere it is hard to explain that I am a single parent when it comes to christianity and church. It is hard to share how Rachel and I pray and read the Bible together but when I'm not around it is a huge thing for Mike to do with her. It is hard to explain how we don't say grace at meals because it's important for Mike not to feel uncomfortable in his own house. It is hard to have anyone understand that decisions based on biblical and christian values are not natural in our household and that my desire to give money to christian charity requires complex negotiations, especially since I don't earn in my ministerial role.
Why am I writing this? Because this is the time of year when lots of us start looking at what christian events and festivals we might want to go to over the spring and summer. I have taken Rachel to Greenbelt for the last couple of years and the festival has been fantastic at sorting out rates for me as a non earning full time minister. However when at the festival they don't understand that for those of us without another adult to share childcare are unable to access as much of the adult focussed festival as we could when there was a focussed kids festival. It is an issue which needs more careful thought.
Then there's Spring Harvest who seem to be even worse. I would dearly love to go to Spring Harvest with Rachel, but they have been far from. I have rung them a couple of times, as well as emailing them, to try to find out how they support families such as mine where there is only one parent who would want to attend with their children. They have told me that there would be financial and specific time based assistance if I was a single mother, but since I'm not it is not something they can help with. I have been disgusted by the lack of understanding of vast numbers of christian families who have only one parent in the faith, how do these decisions serve the whole christian community?
Don't get me wrong. I am not looking for handouts or special treatment; nor are any of us single christian parents. But I am wondering how festivals such as Spring Harvest and Greenbelt are reaching out to and embracing families who would like to attend but find it hard due to their family faith circumstances. What do you think could be done?