It's an easy trap to fall into. When your child reaches for something he wants, you respond with the words, "We can't afford that."
Did you ever think this could send a negative indictment on God, the one who supposedly supplies all of our needs? Yet if you're a single parent and struggling to make ends meet each month, you may often wonder if, indeed, God has left you to fend for yourself.
Brenda Armstrong, President of Mercy Tree, a ministry geared to encourage single parents, says that even though they may feel like the odds are stacked against them, God hasn't forgotten them. In her book, Financial Relief for Single Parents: A Proven Plan for Achieving the Seemingly Impossible, Armstrong suggests single parents take these steps to create financial harmony in the home.
"First of all, realize that you can make it on one income," she says. "But it involves planning. You have to know what your needs are, then you'll know how to pray."
In addition to prayer, Armstrong suggests writing everything down relating to finances, from income and spending to debts and future goals.
"What does your family want?" she asks. "A vacation? College tuition? If you have recorded these items, when a child asks about an unplanned purchase, say, 'It's not that you don't have enough money. God always gives us what we need. It's rather that item doesn't fit into our goals.'"
Secondly, she says, forgive yourself.
"Many single [parents] think that their financial struggles are a result of something they did wrong. If they did sin, repent and move on. Forgive yourself. Isaiah 43:25 reads, 'I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.'"
Current financial struggles are what they are—an opportunity to regroup and reorganize the budget. Yes, the weight of carrying the burden for the family can be overwhelming, says Armstrong, but you can still make things fun.
"Involve the kids in creative ways to cut back and save money," she says. "Have a lemonade stand. Put a penny in a jar each time a child turns off lights or does a full load of wash to give a real visual of saving money. Have movie nights at home or with friends; share DVDs or bake cookies at home together."
Of course, one important step to financial freedom in every home is to live debt free. Armstrong suggests eliminating credit cards and revolving accounts. The freedom that comes from not having them is reward enough, but you're also creating a debt-free legacy for your children and will have more resources for the goals you have set.
Finally, Armstrong reminds single parents to get connected. Ninety-five percent of single parents don't attend church on a regular basis. There's a good reason for that. Trying to find a place in the church can feel like a monumental challenge for single parents.
"The career group is usually too young, the single's group often has the least amount of responsibility, while the single parent has the greatest amount of responsibility, and the married class is filled with couples who often discuss the marital relationship," Armstrong says.
Despite the social hurdles, Armstrong encourages single parents to seize the opportunity; allow God to use them as a voice for other single parents. In fact, you can help any church members—regardless of their age or stage of life—become educated about the needs of single parents.
All of these factors—goals, attitude and involvement—play an integral part in single parents' financial freedom. The key, however, is to remember that our Lord is impartial and will supply every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.