Single Parents

Eternal Marriage Student Manual, (2003), 311–13


Even in single-parent families, the family continues on, for families are forever.

—Elder Ben B. Banks

Selected Teachings

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“To you single mothers and fathers, may I say a special word of appreciation for you. Your burdens are heavy. We know this. Your concerns are deep. There is never enough money. There is never enough time. Do the very best you can and plead with the Lord for His help that your children may grow in grace and understanding and achievement and, most importantly, in faith. If you do so, the day will come when you will get on your knees and, with tears in your eyes, thank the Lord for His blessings upon you” (“A Conversation with Single Adults,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 63).

“Now to you single mothers, whatever the cause of your present situation, our hearts reach out to you. We know that many of you live in loneliness, insecurity, worry, and fear. For most of you there is never enough money. Your constant, brooding worry is anxiety for your children and their futures. Many of you find yourselves in circumstances where you have to work and leave your children largely to their own devices. But if when they are very small there is much of affection, there is shown much of love, there is prayer together, then there will more likely be peace in the hearts and strength in the character of your children. Teach them the ways of the Lord. Declared Isaiah, ‘All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children’ (Isa. 54:13).

“The more surely you rear your children in the ways of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with love and high expectation, the more likely that there will be peace in their lives.

“Set an example for them. That will mean more than all the teaching you can give them. Do not overindulge them. Let them grow up with respect for and understanding of the meaning of labor, of working and contributing to the home and its surroundings, with some way of earning some of their own expense money. Let your sons save for missions, and encourage them to prepare themselves, not only financially, but spiritually and in an attitude to go out to serve the Lord without selfishness of any kind. I do not hesitate to promise that if you will do so, you will have reason to count your blessings” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 99–100).

“The burdens that fall upon a young woman who alone must rear her child are unbelievably heavy and consuming. … The answer is straightforward. It lies in adherence to the principles of the gospel and the teaching of the Church. It lies in self-discipline” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 73; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 53).

“I have spoken on three or four occasions to the women of the Church during the past ten years. I have received in response to these various talks a substantial number of letters. I have kept some of them in a file marked ‘Unhappy Women.’

“… I wish to read you a portion of one of them that was received only last week. …

“‘Then came the crash. About a year ago he decided that he never loved me and that our marriage was a mistake from the beginning. He was convinced that there was nothing in our relationship for him. He filed for divorce and moved out. “Wait,” I kept saying. “Oh, no. Stop! Don’t do this. Why are you leaving? What is wrong? Please, talk to me. Look at our children. What of all our dreams? Remember our covenants. No, no! Divorce is not the answer.” He would not hear me. I thought I would die.

“‘Now I am a single parent. What an enormous load of heartache, pain, and loneliness is behind that statement. It explains so much trauma and so much anger from my teenage sons. It explains so many tears from my little girls. It explains so many sleepless nights, so many family demands and needs. Why am I in this mess? What did I choose wrong? How will I ever get through school? How will I get through this week? Where is my husband? Where is the father of my children? I join the ranks of tired women whose husbands leave them. I have no money, no job. I have children to care for, bills to pay, and not much hope.’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 69–70; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 50).

“To you who are divorced, please know that we do not look down upon you as failures because a marriage failed. In many, perhaps in most cases, you were not responsible for that failure. Furthermore, ours is the obligation not to condemn, but to forgive and to forget, to lift and to help. In your hours of desolation turn to the Lord, who said: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. …

“‘For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Matt. 11:28, 30.)

“The Lord will not deny you nor turn you away. The answers to your prayers may not be dramatic; they may not be readily understood or even appreciated. But the time will come when you will know that you have been blessed. For those of you who have children and struggle to rear them in righteousness, be assured that they will become a blessing and a comfort and a strength to you throughout all the years to come.

“Now to those of you who have lost a companion in death, our hearts go out to you with love and understanding. As a man once observed, ‘There exists no cure for a heart wounded with the sword of separation.’ (Hitopadesa, Elbert Hubbard’s Scrapbook, New York City: Wm. H. Wise and Co., 1923, p. 21.)

“With many of you, there is the gnawing pain of bereavement and fear. To you the Lord has said, ‘Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’ (Matt. 5:4.)

“We know that for many of you, there are days of loneliness and nights of longing. But there is also that which comes from Him who said, ‘I, even I, am he that comforteth you.’ (Isa. 51:12.)

“The Lord is your strength. He is available to you, and, when invited, by His Spirit He will come to you.

“You, too, have great talents to enrich the lives of others. You will find comfort and strength as you lose yourself in their service. Your own troubles will be forgotten as you help others with theirs. Your burdens will become lighter as you lift the burdens of the downtrodden and the oppressed” (“To Single Adults,” Ensign, June 1989, 74).

Elder Marvin J. Ashton

“Some mothers seem to have the capacity and energy to make their children’s clothes, bake, give piano lessons, go to Relief Society, teach Sunday School, attend parent-teacher association meetings, and so on. Other mothers look upon such women as models and feel inadequate, depressed, and think they are failures when they make comparisons.

“We should not allow ourselves to be trapped into such damaging inferiority feelings. This is another tool of Satan. Many seem to put too much pressure on themselves to be a ‘supermom’ or ‘superwoman.’

“Sisters, do not allow yourselves to be made to feel inadequate or frustrated because you cannot do everything others seem to be accomplishing. Rather, each should assess her own situation, her own energy, and her own talents, and then choose the best way to mold her family into a team, a unit that works together and supports each other. Only you and your Father in Heaven know your needs, strengths, and desires. Around this knowledge your personal course must be charted and your choices made” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 11; or Ensign, May 1984, 9–10).

Elder Richard G. Scott

“President Benson has taught that a mother with children should be in the home. He also said, ‘We realize … that some of our choice sisters are widowed and divorced and that others find themselves in unusual circumstances where, out of necessity, they are required to work for a period of time. But these instances are the exception, not the rule’ (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion [pamphlet, 1987], pp. 5–6). You in these unusual circumstances qualify for additional inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who leave the home for lesser reasons will not” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 42–43; or Ensign, May 1993, 34).

Elder Ben B. Banks

“We cannot overemphasize the importance of parenthood and the family. Some Latter-day Saint families are what we refer to as the ‘traditional family,’ consisting of parents and children all together in a permanent relationship, with both mother and father sharing in the responsibility of caring for children. Others have witnessed the loss of one of the parents and become one of the many single-parent families. I am one who grew up in a single-parent home. My father lost his life as a result of a construction accident when I was two years old, leaving my mother with seven children to raise. Even in single-parent families, the family continues on, for families are forever” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 39; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 29).

Elder J. Richard Clarke

“Now, I realize there are numerous single-parent families in the Church. … They are reluctant to impose on others and are frequently offended by insensitive remarks regarding their family status. This is also true of single adults who have yet to marry. They often feel cut off from the mainstream of Mormon family life. They especially need to be part of a gospel kindred family, where blessings can be obtained from worthy priesthood bearers and role models can be found in quorum brotherhood and Relief Society sisterhood. Families in the ward can reach out and share loving concern. Within the Lord’s design, no one should be ignored. We are all members of the body of Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 75; or Ensign, May 1989, 61).