(K-LOVE Closer Look) -- After 13 years of marriage, Robert Beeson suddenly found himself single. “My wife left me -- and left me with our three daughters who were 9, 7 and 4 at the time. It was the darkest season.”
Grappling with this new solo responsibility, the divorced dad turned to his church for comfort and support. He was saddened to find very few Christian resources address the deep loneliness and doubt that many single parents endure. Out of his own need to be part of a welcoming faith community, Beeson founded the Solo Parent Society.
Why call it ‘solo’ instead of ‘single?’ “Single to me says status, but solo is a condition -- we wanted to bring attention to the complexities that 34% of our homes are dealing with in America.”
“The number one need (as a single parent) is for you to know you are not alone,” Beeson says. “We are not meant to do life alone. We have to have people in our lives.” The Solo Parent Society thus began strong at a Nashville church in 2017 where 50 eager parents showed up the very first night. The overwhelming attendance demonstrated to him that many solo parents felt this same deep need for connection. The Society has since expanded to 18 different states, the US military and groups also meet internationally online.
“While God says you are enough -- in the sense that He will equip you -- you need other people,” Beeson explains, so members of the Society strive to do that for one another. “As a single parent what you miss is that ‘sounding board’ laying in bed next to you.” They avoid trying to 'fix' single parents but focus instead on giving them a sense of belonging. “The secret sauce” of the weekly meetings Beeson says is not the weekly teaching, it’s “connecting with each other. Knowing there are other people in the same situation makes all the difference in the world.”
The pandemic accelerated the Society plan to expand meetings from in-person only to online forums. Using Zoom, solo parents meet regularly in video chats, guided by 52 topics for each of the weeks of the year based on themes like love, balance or dating. Meeting days and times vary and a weekly podcast reinforces the bible-based teachings. Group facilitators are hand-picked by Society leaders and guidelines for interaction are strictly enforced. Ground rules are reviewed at the start of every meeting and members are reminded ‘what is said here stays here.’ Romantic relationships within the groups are strongly discouraged and to protect members from unsolicited advice or inappropriate advances the facilitator disables the chat feature.
Knowing who to trust is a crucial calculation for a solo parent. “I think it’s probably rooted in a sense of shame and betrayal,” Beeson says, which is why the Society strives to create a safe, welcoming and healing space where single (solo) parents can reconnect with God in their singleness. “As well as being the darkest time, I’ll tell you, it was (also) the most transformational season of my life.”
Hear the weekly podcast at Accessmore: https://www.accessmore.com/pd/Solo-Parent-Society