Single mom looks to faith to help get past poverty

Melissa Dunson

Choosing between food and electricity is an everyday decision for impoverished single mothers.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single-mother families constitute 59 percent of the total families in poverty in the United States. Many times the weight of bearing a family’s financial burden alone is overwhelming. The prospect of trying to both support a family and raise one can be stressful.

Ronica Collins, 46, from Carthage, discovered the financial difficulties associated with single parenting from the start. Collins has five children from relationships with three different men, none of whom are involved with her family.

“I’ve been a single mother on and off ever since I had kids,” Collins said. “The hardest thing is having to be both mom and dad. I got the mom part down, but I don’t like being the dad.”

Collins is unemployed and said it is difficult to hold down a job when she wants to be with her family.

“I like to be home with the kids,” she said. “But if I work, I can’t do that, but if I don’t work, we don’t have anything. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Holidays are one of the most difficult times for single mothers struggling financially because society shows love through the giving of material things, she said.

“Christmas is always hard,” Collins said. “You have to pray that God will provide the good stuff for your kids when you can’t.”

Financial hardship puts single mothers in a position where they must make choices no mother wants to make.

Collins’ youngest daughter recently turned 16 but can’t receive her driver’s license because Collins doesn’t have the money to pay for the car insurance.

“It’s hard to figure out how you’ll pay the bills,” Collins said. “If you pay the bills your kids don’t have the shoes they need, or if you pay the bills you don’t have anything to eat.”

Two of Collins’ ex-husbands only recently began paying child support even though their children are in their 20s. Collins said the only reason the men started paying the child support is because both of them went on disability, so the government automatically pays it for them.

Collins relies heavily on her faith for strength in dealing with her difficult situation and believes God provides for her family when she can’t.

One month she was $100 short on her already-late rent. Discouraged, she almost didn’t go to church, but when she arrived a church member walked up and put $100 in her hand.

“It’s strange; God always works it out,” Collins said. “I don’t know how he does it.

He’s more faithful to me than I am to him.”

Hope is present in Collins’ family despite all the hardships. She now lives in a house she can afford.

She is able to pay her house rent, telephone and electric bills all for the amount of her last house payment. Although she can pay her rent from her child-support checks, it doesn’t leave any extra money for expenses like shoes or toilet paper.

Collins said her dream is to own a piece of property where she and her children can all have their separate houses in a circle with a picnic area in the middle where the family can have barbecues.

As for now, Collins is surviving and enjoying spending time with her family. She encourages other single mothers to have faith that there is a way out, even if it isn’t clear.

“We might not have everything we want, but we have everything that we need,” Collins said.