Helping Children of Divorce|
by Cary Branscum
Last week, my wife and I drove to Fort Worth, Texas to be with my brother and sister-in-law. Theyve just learned their 7 month old baby has cerebral palsy. Life has tough moments when its really hard to see the blessings that will not appear until much later down the line.
My wife and I have a special needs child of our own. My sister-in-law
looked at me, and said, How do I think about living with this? Just having come from a three-hour drive up the Interstate, I replied, Sometimes your life journey takes you on a side road, one you didnt even know was there. It may be slower, with more turns, but there is beauty in the journey that way too.
What does this have to do with helping kids deal with divorce? Divorce is
like a side road. You didnt plan on it. You probably didnt want it. Yet your car has run off the Interstate! What now? First of all, relax and know God will take charge, even on the side roads if we let him. Second, this road will get you where you need to go if you will just hang on to your faith in him. Its true! Your life journey will continue. There will be beauty in the journey. It may hurt too much right now to see it but you can eventually find it.
Now you say Wait a minute! What about my kids, they are on this side road too! How can I help my kids deal with the divorce?
- Find a qualified counselor to help them sort out their feelingsChristian psychologists, a minister, a good friend who can help them identify and own their feelings. As a parent, you can do this yourself if there is no other support for your kids, but its difficult do alone because you may need to sort out and own your own feelings too. Find support groups, and get yourself and your kids to a church that has a ministry for single parents.
- Reassure them it is not their fault, on a regular basis. Children often blame themselves for being too loud, too messy, not pretty enough and thats why the family split up. As crazy as that sounds, thats the first thing that most children think: Mom and dad split up because I was bad!
- Divorce brings an avalanche of change. Where will we live? Where
will we go to school? What about my friends? Let them know what to expect
as best you can. Their world has been ripped apart by unwanted surprise so
try to soften the surprise of future upheaval. You may not know what to
expect, but be as specific as possible as soon as possible if there are
going to be major changeslike moving or changing churches or changing
- Let them know they are loved. Sometimes children feel they must
choose which parent they want to be with, and when, and which one to love.
Let them know they can still love both mommy and daddy. Let them know they
will be taken care of, and then do the best you can.
- Let them stay close to whatever helps them feel secure in a tough
time. Some children may regress to a safer time, and go back to their old
favorite blanket for awhile. Let them do that right now.
- Realize these little guys and girls will help you get through this!
Believe it or not, there are lots of well-adjusted people whose parents
divorced. Your kids can survive! Things are bad and times are
tough, but there can be beauty to see on your journey down the road.
Children give us a reason to deal with a divorce. They are worth it. As
you drive through the sludge of your legal, financial, and emotional
problems, remember youre not only doing it for God and for yourself, but for them. They are precious, and worth everything, they are your heritage.
May God be with you on your journey!
NOTE: Heres a great resource for helping kids deal with family breakup: Kids Hope, a workbook by Gary Sprague, in the FRESH START series published by David C. Cook Publishers.