Personal Growth is a Team Sport

Solo parent life can be lonely. We don’t always know who to trust. The people we were once close to may no longer understand our journey. Explaining ourselves over and over again gets old. The temptation is to isolate even when we know how important it is to find mentors and others as a sounding board and support system.

Single parent, Marissa, joins Robert and Kim to talk about the importance of community as we consider how to grow personally. Marissa read that it takes someone seven times of telling their story before they move past it. At first she found herself sharing her story with multiple people but then she just got worn out after sharing it with those who didn’t understand. Instead, she realized it was most helpful being able to share it with other single parents who “get it” because they have been through something similar.

As single parents, it is important to bring others into our lives and stories. Having other adults in our children’s lives we can turn to for help is invaluable. This helps relieve some of the pressure of deciding what to make for dinner or what to pack in their school lunches. This can be a grandparent, a close friend, or a neighbor we can lean on and trust to help us with some of these decisions and tasks.

But it’s not always easy to reach out for the help we need. We may not want to be seen as weak but support from others is crucial and being willing to accept the limits of our humanity is necessary, especially as single parents. Nobody has all the answers or can do “it all” without input from others. We all need to look around for those we can seek wisdom from related to parenting, finances, career direction, or any area that would benefit from another source.

Kimberley Mitchell shares that the number of people she told her story to was small. She was choosy in who she let into the details of her solo parent life. Robert has a background in the music industry and found himself surrounded by a small group of people within that arena. As he became a single dad, he felt like he needed a wider social network. He realized he needed more variety in his world to find the support he needed. Being willing to expand our network is an important element of personal growth.

Growth Doesn’t Happen in Isolation

As we talk about personal growth as a team sport, the primary message is that we can’t isolate and expect to grow. We need other people to learn from and to lean on. We can pray and ask God to bring the right people around us.

Shortly after her husband died, Marissa was asking God how to raise her boys as godly young men when she had a beautiful but raw epiphany. She realized that in the absence of their dad, there was a unique opportunity for multiple other men to speak into her son’s lives. Her son’s weren't going to learn from just one man, their dad, but rather now they would be able to seek guidance and receive input from multiple men in their lives. This kind of team approach allows each of us to better learn and grow, by seeking wisdom from numerous sources.

After loss though, it is difficult to trust others and bring them into our circle. Grief and hurt can leave us irrational. In our sadness and anger, we may have lashed out and find ourselves needing to rebuild relationships so we can reform healthy community. We may need to carefully find people we feel safe with and slowly add them to our team.

Healing Happens in Relationships

After becoming a single dad, Robert was invited to join a group for men from all walks of life. It was a safe environment to share the things going on in their lives. He found he could be transparent and vulnerable there. He started trusting other people again, something he could never have done on his own.

The ability to be intimate with other people by letting them into our lives is incredibly hard but it is essential because healing happens in relationships. As we seek a team of people to help us grow in our ability to trust and connect again, we need to be selective. Not everyone is receptive to that type of communication.

Growth Happens in Safe Communities

Sometimes we want to deny or rush past the pain, to jump ahead and circumvent the difficult things in our lives. Instead, we need to sit with how we feel and not short circuit the healing process. Our personal growth happens with other people who walk with us, not in isolation.  It is how we learn to relate again in healthy ways, to trust again, to lower our guard and let people in. As we add people to our “team”, they can help point the way for our healing and growth. Just as we need others to do this for us, we have the opportunity to provide that for other people too.

In 1 Samuel 23:10-12, David is being hunted by Saul. As he tries to hide, he goes to God for advice and seeks out connection with Him. He also found support in his friendship with Jonathan. David doesn’t try to figure it out on his own. He seeks strength in relationships.

We are not intended to do it alone. We can ask God to bring help and what we need. We can ask Him to provide relational support.

Solo Parent groups were developed as a place for single parents to find this type of support. Group guidelines are in place so single parents know not to give advice, offer suggestions, or solutions but rather to listen to one another respectfully. This provides the opportunity for single parents to share what’s going on, allowing them to be seen and heard without judgment.This experience is profoundly impactful, especially for those who have experienced hurt and pain in broken relationships. The effect is remarkable. Lives are transformed as people find community where they can acknowledge their hurt in a place of safety, support, and acceptance.

Find a Plus One

When Solo Parent started as an in person group, one of the things shared at every meeting is the idea that groups fulfill an important role but there is no substitute for time with God and at least one other person you can walk with - like a navigator or sponsor. We called this person a “plus one” - someone you can call to talk with, to share good news with, to seek wisdom from, and to lean on along the way. This plus one is someone you can process with and use as a sounding board, a resource and tool for further growth.

Human beings were intended for relationships.  Personal growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Isolating, hiding, and hibernating are not a recipe for growth. When we seek out a team of other people to be in relationship with, we have the benefit of learning from their experiences, failures, mistakes, and successes. These people become “stories with skin on” that we can “read” and learn from as we walk out our own story. Their knowledge and wisdom is like fruit that produces seeds for those of us who are on the journey after them. We are blessed by the seeds they planted.

Becoming a Source of Support and Hope For Others

Just as we are blessed by others who are further ahead on the road than we are, we can become a source of support like that for others too. Being willing to share our journey is a gift that we can give even if we are just a little further down the road. This may not be a role we take on immediately after a painful loss or tragic event. We need to be in a good place to offer healthy support to others. First, we can seek community for our own healing. Second, we can offer that to others as we become safe people ourselves.

Safe communities are made up of safe people. People who have allowed themselves the time and space needed to share their hurts and to let them heal. In the process, we become changed. We find ourselves more humble, being a good listener, not trying to fix others, and giving people the space and respect to process what they are going through without judgment.

This process is transformational. Personal growth really is a team sport. Single parents can use the hard things they are going through to become refined, to learn, to grow, and to change themselves. Then they can give away what they have gained to others. As we do that, we grow even more.  Community makes us better people. It’s a continuous loop of learning and growing as we share our hope and experience to benefit others too. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” If you are a single parent, please join one of our groups! Personal growth is a team sport.

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Learn more about Solo Parent Society here:, on Facebook and on IG @soloparentsociety. Follow SPS Founder Robert Beeson here: Website | LinkedIn

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