How to have a feeling of wholeness in the home although yours is a single-parent family

In the 11 years I've been a single parent, I've learned it's important to:

Reach out to others who are alone or struggling. Maybe this won't fill the void of a father or mother, husband or wife, but the love you feel in serving helps fill the emptiness in your heart. It was therapeutic for me to realize I am a whole person, and I do have something to give. Also, my family can be a great blessing to others.- Focus less on what's missing in your family, and more on what you still have. You'll find it's so much more than you thought. When you suffer a terrible loss, after the worst of the hurt is over, you are forced to realize what you do have. You begin to take a closer look at your blessings. You are less complacent.

Avoid being too independent. It's OK to need your bishop, your home teachers, to still rely on your parents. Your primary concern is your children. I learned I cannot do it all myself.

One thing that has helped our family is a really supportive extended family. My dad in many ways stepped in and provided a father's image. My brother-in-law, my sister's husband, helped financially support us in the early years.

Through all this, I discovered that role models are extremely important in the lives of young people.

Spread the responsibility for the care of the home throughout the family, but maintain the parental role in decision-making. My oldest son, Matt, who was 11 at the time I became a single parent, developed into a leader, both spiritually and emotionally, in the home. I had to be careful, though. I had to still let him be a kid. - Ginger Evans, Salt Lake City, Utah

What we did:

Forever family

After only 12 years of marriage, I found widowhood a desperate challenge in my life. Many nights were spent crying with my husband prior to his death. I felt that I couldn't rear our four children, ages 4 to 11, alone. His comforting words of assurance and trust in my independent nature allowed me to pursue the future.

My husband and I had set the goal of temple sealing for our family. His deteriorating illness made the need to achieve this even more imperative. Our Father in Heaven allowed us to accomplish this five days before his death. What a comfort this was as the years have passed. Being able to guide our children through their future, and teaching them about the potential of our "forever family" has given us strength to carry on.

Knitting the threads of family unity through the veil has allowed us to keep my husband, my children's father, and a young son who died in infancy, a major part of our family.

My children were given a feeling of eternal worth and were able to be strengthened through their struggles because of gospel principles.

One of my favorite scriptures is placed with the picture of the Ogden Temple where we were sealed: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve, . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Josh. 24:15.) - Marjorie Porter, Morgan, Utah

Pray always

Do not forget to always pray, asking God for His guidance.

Develop the habit of studying the scriptures daily.

Invite the Spirit of God, which is the Holy Ghost, into your heart. The Holy Ghost is a great comforter. He will always comfort you in times of loneliness or when you feel that something is missing in your home. The Holy Ghost will always help you have a feeling of wholeness.

Sing hymns of the Church, as they have inspiring messages which fills the heart when all seems to be empty.

Study the Church News, Ensign, New Era and Friend.

Have as many friends as opportunity permits.

Invite your friends to your birthday parties and other activities. - Mba Ogburubi, Lagos, Nigeria

Caring hearts

As Church members, we all know in our hearts, that the Lord made two-parent families for a wise and good reason. So what to do?

Your greatest solution lies in the caring hearts of priesthood members of the Church. My thanks are to these priesthood holders, young and old. - Bernice Brown Ostuig, Buffalo, Minn.

Unified in love

In a small town in New York about 20 years ago, my mother, Judith McMurray, was faced with a difficult situation. Our family was made up of six boys, one girl, with the youngest child 1 year old. However, my mother, a convert to the Church, made our family feel "whole." My mother made sure we were involved in Church programs. Because of this involvement I always had father figures among the Young Men and Scouts leaders and the bishopric. I love those men as fathers.

We also had continual family activities with the older siblings playing greater roles. We became unified in love with the Spirit chasing away any emptiness. These activities continue today and are still treasured times for us. We had hardships, but with the Spirit in our home, we were never alone. (See John 14:18.) - Elder Nathan McMurray, Korea Seoul Mission

Family home evening

Cherish family home evening. During the 10 years in the single-parent world, our busy and sometimes hectic life could have had a tendency to separate us. We found great joy in the most important meeting of the week on Monday evenings. We knew this was the time celestial living was learned and practiced. We knew this was the time family living skills and leadership was learned and practiced.

Family home evening gave us the opportunity to know how important we each were to the family structure. Deep respect for each other, learning from one another, and love ties were just a few of the results of those weekly meetings.

Now the children are grown, but the memories that linger on are those we had when we shut the doors and windows of the world and had sharing, caring family home evenings. - Katherine K. Duffin, Seeley Lake, Mont.

Blessings of temple

Focus on the promises and blessings of the temple. I was 9 years old when my father died. A little over a year later my mother and I went to the temple to be sealed as a family with friends acting as proxies for my father and younger sister who died in infancy. After I was sealed to him and my mother, I felt like my father was part of our family again. - Janice Leilani Smith, Kingsville, Texas

How to checklist:

Remember temple promises; realize your blessings.

Hold regular family home evening; pray, study scriptures as a family.

Seek support from others, such as priesthood leaders.

Be involved in Church meetings, activities; unify home through family activities.

Write to Us:

March 30 "How to observe the newness of life on Easter."

April 6 "How to apply the counsel of the prophet in your personal life."

April 20 "How to help children learn tolerance, understanding of those of other faiths."

April 27 "How to practice integrity in one's life."

May 4 "How to show respect, be polite while on a date as a young person."

May 11 "How to take control of, responsibility for your own life."

May 18 "How to make extra money as a youth under 16."

May 25 "How to decorate your home on a limited budget."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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