Speak kindly about both
parents. Encouraging words may be lacking at home.
Anger and hostility are often the driving forces between separated
or divorced parents. Focus on the positive aspects of each parent
when you're with the child.
Open up a dialogue with each parent.
Tell each parent that you're interested in the child and want to be
available to the child. Update both parents on events, projects,
successes, and pains that the child experiences as part of your
Be aware of possible sensitive
situations. One delicate area
revolves around the specific legalities involved in each divorce.
One parent may've lost parental rights and may be legally
prohibited from having any contact with the child. Or a court may
decide that one parent is not obligated to know any information
about the child.
The circumstances around the divorce may've involved abusive
behavior. If a child confides about a possibly abusive situation
with either parent, assure the child that such behavior is not
appropriate. Immediately confer with your pastor and Child
Protective Services in your county.
Encourage your church to provide resource people, workshops, and
support groups. Since many parents have been out of the single
social scene for years, sessions on improving social skills may be
helpful. Practical workshops on car repair, finances, home repair,
resume writing, conflict resolution, and time management can help
the family save money and decrease frustration.
Provide positive adult relationships for adults and
children. A mentor will help a child
by providing interaction with another adult and can give the parent
a break from the strains of constant parenting. An Adoptive
Grandparents program in your church can also be a positive resource
and can give older people an avenue for service. Likewise, an adult
peer mentor for the parent can help guide the divorced person in
times of great anxiety and frustration.