Single and Parenting: Valleybrook Presbyterian brings back popular class

father and little son silhouettes play at sunset
father and little son silhouettes play at sunset

According to census data, there are around 12,000 single-parent households in Hamilton County. And Diane Wooten and Ben Brychta, congregation members at Valleybrook Presbyterian in Hixson, can tell you, being a single parent is no easy task.

That's why Valleybrook has brought back one of its most successful ministries from 2016: Single and Parenting. The classes are taught by Wooten and Brychta, who are both personally familiar with the struggles of being a single parent.

The classes are meant as a way not only for single parents to learn how to better manage their finances and raise their kids, but to keep perspective and stay happy.

"My first wife died when my two boys were around 4 and 6 years old," said Brychta. "It was hard just trying to work through everything."

Wooten's husband of 27 years passed away in a car accident when her sons were much older, but much of the stress was the same.

"I suddenly had so many questions," she said. "Whether you're a single mom or dad who's never been married, your spouse died or you've separated, we want to capture that whole range and bring them in."

The instructional part of the program is centered around video seminars that offer strategies and insights on issues such as your children's fears, finances, dealing with loneliness and managing child care. Wooten and Brychta work as discussion facilitators throughout the 13-week program, as well as personally talking and listening to any individuals who might need a more one-on-one connection.

"There's lots of little things you don't even think about," Brychta said, looking back on his time as a single dad - things as seemingly insignificant as matching socks. He'd never paid attention to that little everyday challenge before; it was something his wife had always taken care of.

For Wooten, it was after her husband passed that she realized she wasn't sure how to start their lawnmower.

"I could mow the yard, but I'd never started it," she said. Just like Brychta, starting the lawnmower had been something her late husband had always done.

The classes don't parlay into one another, so if someone misses one, they won't be behind for the next, though Wooten and Brychta said they will personally show any missed videos to people who are interested.

Child care services are offered at every session, and Wooten said the classes won't run too late, so parents can get their children to bed at a decent time. In addition, there's a potluck dinner that starts 30 minutes before each class starts.

"They don't have to bring anything. They're our guests," said Wooten.

The program starts Feb. 1 and runs through April 26. Dinner starts at 6:15 p.m, and classes end at 8 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 843-0314.

Upcoming Events