This week, I’ve been hanging out with some of my best writing friends as we have developed the second year of the FLYTE curriculum for preteens. One of the subjects that has come up most often is that of divorce. The kids in our ministries are really struggling with the sad reality that marriages are ending and their families are being torn apart.
Divorce effects every aspect of a child’s life. You can see the effects of divorce in their demeanor, tone of voice, and even in the way they interact with you.
Last week, I realized that one of my facebook friends had neglected to mention anything that she and her husband had done together in her status updates. I went to her page to find a picture of him, as we were all good friends in college, but nothing. I decided to email her and find out what was going on. Unfortunately, she relayed to me that after nearly ten years of marriage and two precious little boys, their marriage was over.
Stunned I sat at my desk and just stared at the screen. How do you respond to a friend facing the crisis of divorce? How do you minister to children facing divorce?
1. Be available. Let the parents know that you are available to pray with their children and to talk with their children. Let them know that you want to partner with them as they walk through this painful process.
2. Be okay with silence. Don’t force kids to talk about the divorce. It’s okay to tell them that you are sorry about the divorce, but don’t push them to "open up" if they are not ready.
3. Be consistent. Take special time to show kids that you care and you haven’t forgotten them. Often, kids feel like the ones that are left out in the divorce. No one really asks them how they feel, who they want to live with, and what they think about the process. Confirm to the kids that you are there to minister to them.
4. Let them share their grief. When I was serving at my last church, it became apparent that several children in the ministry needed a support group for sharing their grief over their parents’ divorce. I enlisted a couple of adults who had grown up in homes touched by divorce to lead KidShare: What Do I Do Now? by Cindy Ann Pitts. This class proved invaluable in helping those kids who just needed a safe place to share.
Helping children navigate through a divorce is a painful, gutwrenching process. But, your commitment to them and your desire to see them come through on the other side is a huge part of your ministry to children and families.