Single or Single Again
Young adulthood is a period of changing relationships, as it is typically the time when women leave their parents’ home to establish a home of their own. The young adult woman carries the influences of her childhood and youth as she tries her wings as an adult.
Most women enter adulthood as a single woman, and some remain single the rest of their lives. If so, they will carry the responsibility of working for financial security as well as maintaining a home. The possibility of unemployment may loom heavily upon her.
While some women choose a career and a life of singleness, others struggle with being single. Finding a peer group may be difficult for single women, particularly in a family-oriented church. Singles may not relate to women whose sole interests are home and family.
Some women are single a second time because of either divorce or the death of a spouse. In both cases, these women have had the relationship of a husband and now are rebuilding their lives on their own. They may have commonalities with both single and married women, but their life experiences bring uniqueness to them that must be recognized.
A single mother carries extra heavy responsibilities and has many challenges. She moves between the roles of sole provider and sole caregiver, when either role could be a full-time responsibility. Consequently, she usually is very receptive to encouraging ministries from the church.
Married with or without Children
When a woman marries, she enters a new relationship that will shape her life in many ways. Many women continue their careers while establishing a home, a dual responsibility which takes much time and energy while adjusting to the new relationship. Both the woman and her husband may face unemployment in a changing economy. Her decisions about involvement in church activities will be highly influenced by her husband’s interests.
A woman’s relationships change again when children arrive in the family. Having preschool children in the home may be one of the most confining times for a woman. She may not have time or energy for outside friendships and activities. The presence of children brings new adjustments to the marriage relationship, and added financial responsibilities.
At the same time, married women who do not have children may be going through their own personal struggles. Some choose not to have children for personal reasons; others would like to have them but cannot. Both may struggle with lack of understanding by friends and family members who are insensitive to their personal situation.
The woman with children will find new adjustments in relationships when the children start to school. New activities make fresh demands on time and finances. New acquaintances present influences which may be negative. As children enter the teen years, challenges may arise which create pressures on her relationships. The working mother with children of different ages may be living a highly stressful life.
When children grow up and leave home, women enter another new stage of life sometimes called the empty nest. For some women, this is a time of relief from the stress of caring for children, a time of re-discovery for herself. Sometimes, the empty nest brings stress to a marriage if family life has centered totally on the interests of the children. Couples may have to renew their relationship when they find themselves alone with each other in an otherwise empty house.
Women’s relationships are as different as the sizes of clothes in a chic boutique. When we take into consideration the many influencing factors of relationships, we readily see the difficulty of presenting a one-size-fits-all ministry. Our desire is, if possible, to offer ministry that will fit each woman’s individual needs and circumstances. Therefore, a women’s leader might ask the following questions when planning activities:
• In what ways are we ministering to single career women?
• What activities are we offering to newly-married women?
• Will women without children find their needs met by our ministry?
• How are we serving women with preschool children?
• Are we giving consideration to single mothers?
• Do working mothers have special needs that we are addressing?
• Are we being supportive of mothers with teenagers?
• Are widows and divorced women finding a place in our ministries?
• What are we offering to the woman experiencing the empty nest?
• Are we giving consideration to persons with financial needs due to unemployment?
What does your ministry offer for women in different relational and financial situations?
What changes are needed, and how will you implement them?
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society®.
“Stages of a Woman’s Life” is published by the National Women’s Department at www.women.ag.org, 2020. Permission to reproduce is limited to personal use or within a teaching setting. All other forms of use are prohibited.