Five More Ways You Can Support a Struggling Family

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Two weeks ago I wrote THIS article for the Federalist, detailing some ways to help families in perilous situations, or who were facing “crisis” pregnancies.

I’ve continued the list here, with another five ways you can help out. I’m certain I’ll be adding more posts like this in the future, as I currently have at least two dozen helpful ideas to share.

These ideas are more personal than the suggestions in my Federalist article. They’re gifts you would give a close friend or family member.

1) Purchase a gift card for something frivolous.

A card for coffee, a book, or a manicure would be so welcome. Many times struggling parents can't afford simple pleasures, and giving them the ability to indulge themselves reminds them of their importance. We don't just want to help them parent their children, we want to help them reach their full potential as well. Remembering their own unique humanity goes a long way towards establishing the self-confidence needed to succeed.

2) Bring them to church.

This should be obvious. The best way to emotionally support a family is to bring them to the table of the God who created them. Reminding them of the love God has for them, of the care he took in creating their child(ren), and of His vocation for their lives will help them to remain a cohesive family unit.

(This invitation should be extended with the understanding an unmarried couple should not be shamed or chastised, but invited as honored guests. God, along with your pastor or priest, will work on helping them enrich their family life together in a constructive way when the time is right.)

3) Host a family dinner.

Invite them over to share a weekly family dinner with you. I had a friend who did this for me and my son, and it was one of the most beautiful gifts anyone had ever given me. Because of this friend's generosity in inviting me into her family's home each week, my son was given the "cousins" he never had. He was able to experience a house where mom and dad worked together for the best interests of their children. These friends became our extended family and confidants. There's really few people I trust more than I trust them. Our friendship is as strong now as it was 20 years ago.

4)  Babysit.

Offer to babysit -- and pay for a movie date -- for a family whose children are small, and who may not get out that much. Respite time for a struggling family is rare. Caring for children is difficult, and giving mom and dad time to focus on one another as human beings rather than caretakers is so important to the health of a marriage. If mom or dad is single, giving them a little time to be alone can make the difference between feeling like a 24/7 camp counselor and a human being.

5) Invest in their children.

Sponsor their school-aged child's after school activity. There are a whole range of extracurriculars which are out-of-reach for the struggling parent. For younger children, it may be Scouting or a summer team sport. For older children it may be joining the school band (instrument rentals and uniforms can be costly), or playing a school sport. In helping out a child in this way, you also show them you are invested in their future. You care enough to make sure they have the training and connections to fill out the job applications and the life experience to write those college essays.

If you have ever served someone in a novel way which caused you to step out of your comfort zone and make a deep connection with an individual, please let me know so I can add it to my next list.

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