Book Review: Solo Mom: From Surviving to Thriving
Solo Mom: From Surviving to Thriving by Pamela Consuegra. AdventSource: Lincoln, NB. 2020. Total pages: 121.
It’s reality—single moms. For some, this came about because of an untimely death of their partner. For many, divorce or separation or desertion has left a mom playing the role of both parents. An increasing number of moms simply have never married, and the biological father may, or may not, be in the picture. With 15 million single pa5ent homes in the United States, and more than 80 percent of these led by single moms, you likely know some, or maybe you are one in this large demographic.
One word I would use to describe this book is “practical.” Each of the ten chapters follows a logical yet heart-felt progression on an aspect important to single moms. The clean organization includes more details, like an outline filled in with all the helpful information. For example, the first chapter addresses the single mom as a person, with five categories. The first one, self-care, has eight sub-categories, clearly placed in bold font. These include: physical exercise, brain boosters, pamper yourself, find time with friends, try something new, hone your skills, laugh and be silly and have fun, and prepare a special place to relax. Each sub-category includes sentences and bullet points on how to do it. This makes it “practical” for any single mom who reads it, as well as a helpful resource if you’re called upon to minister or do life with any single mom. As you may have already noticed, these principles and applications could be beneficial for all people, not just solo moms.
The author follows a similar format for each chapter. The chapter on finances, chapter seven, presents the category of budgeting, with these sub-categories: establish short-term monthly goals, try to limit credit card use for emergencies, retirement planning, start an emergency fund, rethink spending habits, and sleep soundly. As you would expect, the chapter includes a sample budget with the flexibility to personalize it. I wish the author would have addressed the topic of contentment in this same chapter. It would also address the unmentioned principle of living within (or slightly below) one’s means. While finances (and time) pose significant obstacles for solo moms, contentment can change how a person and their family relates to “stuff” and its concomitant debt in a materialistic society like ours. There will always be emergencies and shortfalls from losing one’s job or a medical emergency or another type of financial emergency. Contentment rather than competing with the imaginary “Jones family” reorients a person’s reality, attitude, and practices.
Making memories, and replacing bad or sad memories, takes time. But it can be done. Time is on your side as you acknowledge and release the past and use creativity and child involvement in the future. Simple things like habits, affirmation, verbalizing, listening, being age-appropriate, not going alone, connecting to the family of faith regularly, and making God the bedrock and hope in systematic and serendipitous ways—all these add to the shaping of one’s child and one’s family to be all God miraculously desires it to be.
The final chapter on purposely “going with God” allocates a significant section on forgiveness. This includes both what forgiveness IS NOT and then what forgiveness IS. Both of these subsections draw on foundational theology, research, practices, and tips.
As the co-director of family ministries for the North American Division, Pamela Consuegra has provided a helpful tool for solo moms and those who interact with them. The end of the book includes additional sources, including online resources directly related to this tool. Check out helpimaparent.org to a full slate. With only a third of single moms in the US attending church, this could also be a tremendous outreach and ministry of a church or simply a segment of your church.
Steve Case coordinates the Intergenerational Church concentration in the Andrews University Doctor of Ministry program. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Marit.