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A House Divided

Lori Haynes Niles

  • "My grandma says divorce is a sin. Does that mean my parents aren't Christians anymore?"
  • "Why doesn't my mommy want to be here with all of us anymore?"
  • "I think my parents hate each other."
  • "I can't go to the Mother Daughter Tea this year. That's my weekend with my dad."
  • "I don't think I can stand one more father figure!"

There is no typical picture of a child in the midst of family crisis. Divorce can strike in homes that've seemed relatively peaceful, or it can be the end to months and years of gut-wrenching conflict. There's no average age for a child of divorcing parents, no typical new family configuration, no predictable amount of time to adjust to the change. Nor is there a certain set of behaviors that clue us in to the fact that things aren't stable in the home environment. Often the first clue we have that something is amiss is a comment like those on the previous page in the context of normal conversation.

One million children each year will experience a new divorce. So how can we help kids whose lives are being radically altered by divorce? How can we help them come to grips with a new kind of family life? How can we offer continuous support while their worlds sway around them for weeks, months, or years? How can we protect kids in single-parent homes from becoming part of the horrendous statistical data that links family status to all sorts of social ills?

"One thing that we as a church can do," says Gary Sprague of Kids Hope in Woodland Park, Colorado, "is to validate to these children that their families are still valued. For the parent, one is a whole number, and the single-parent family is still a complete family."

The mission of Gary's organization is to bring hope and healing to kids in single-parent or blended families. He does that by bringing high-impact weekend seminars to local churches.

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