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Divorce: Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Linda Ranson Jacobs



BRIDGE BUILDERS:

• Remove things that isolate kids.
Items such as attendance charts are a constant reminder that kids of divorce are "different." Don't post them for everyone to see.

• Accommodate the child who attends every other week. Complete a lesson each week, rather than extending an experience or craft project into the next week when the child may not be able to attend. If any communication is handed out when the child isn't present, such as the flier for summer camp, either mail the flier to the child's family that week or give it the next time you see the child.

• Take kids' stress levels into consideration. Remember, many of these children are under tremendous amounts of stress and can't easily concentrate on activities such as memorization. But they can sing Scriptures, so put the words to music and hand them out.

• Don't introduce painful dilemmas. Holidays can be especially tough on kids of divorce -- particularly Mother's and Father's Day. Provide extra materials for kids who want to make more than one gift, card, or craft for parents.


Don't pity children of divorce. I often hear the fantastic news about kids of divorce deciding to follow Jesus. This happens in ministries where the kids encounter adults who are passionate about helping them -- providing constant support, attention, and empathy. These people don't feel sorry for these kids; they feel empathy and they genuinely seek to understand what's happening in kids' lives. They build healthy relationships with the children. They are Jesus' hands and feet to these kids.

BRIDGE BUILDERS:

• Don't ask kids painful questions.
Refrain from asking probing questions about the divorce. Instead, say, "I'm sorry this is happening to you. How can I help?" and "I'm always here for you. I'm thinking about you and praying for you."

• Be upbeat, but don't try to "happy up" children of divorce. These kids are experiencing a crisis and they have a right to be upset.

•••

Here's my challenge to you: View children of divorce as your mission field. Rather than looking at the obstacles they face or at grim statistics, praise God that he sent you these children. Rededicate yourself to ministering to each child experiencing divorce. And focus on making your ministry a haven of unconditional love, support, empathy, and positive relationships -- in short, a living, thriving family for these kids to return to week after week.

Linda Ranson Jacobs is a children's ministry director and the developer of DivorceCare for Kids Church Initiative (dc4k.org).

  

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