And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Recognizing the plight of children of divorce at Christmas time can help children in divorced families stay connected to the church and attentive to the birth of Christ during the holidays.
Christmas Through the Eyes of the Child of Divorce
While most people get excited about the holidays, children from divorced homes often go into a depression, get very anxious or simply disconnect when preparing for all of the events associated with Christmas. Sometimes, this is related to the uncertainty surrounding which home they will be in when celebrating various events. Other times, it might be because they really want to be with both parents during the holidays but know that that is not possible. This leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Or they may fantasize about their parents getting back together. When that doesn’t happen, they can become angry or sad. Many children of divorce simply feel lost during the holidays so they disconnect.
With all the rushing around at the holidays for parties, church, concerts, plays, shopping and more, single parents still have to work. They still have to parent alone, and stress abounds. Children may feel the stress of the Christmas celebration times two – two homes and two parents. You might say they experience double whammies of both stress and holiday celebrating.
Thanksgiving is now a memory and Christmas looms before us. For some kids Christmas is an exciting time of the year. For many kids Christmas may mean staying up late, no school, visits with relatives, presents and candy. As people who work with kids, we want them to find the true meaning of Christmas. Most of you will go overboard trying to relay the story of the baby Jesus and his humble birth with special lessons and activities. There will be special Christmas musicals; special holiday parties or celebrations; perhaps even caroling events also.
We want kids to come to church and enjoy the “specialness” of this time of year. That’s why I want to start early this year asking you to prepare yourself for the child of divorce. If it is a child’s first Christmas after the separation or divorce of their parents, you might want to be prepared for a variety of feelings to be exhibited. Depending on how recent the divorce was, the child may appear to be in shock, or the child may be confused not sure of what their feelings are.
If it has been several months, and the child has begun to process the divorce, you may find some anger feelings emerging in your classes. If the child feels safe with you, then don’t be surprised if a lot of anger comes out. Some children will hold their anger in when they are around their parents. They don’t want to upset their already stressed and/or angry parents. But, when they get to a safe place and if you have developed a relationship with them, then they will let their guard down and express themselves.
One of the ways you can help these children, especially around Christmas when they are feeling even more stressed than normal, is to help them understand their anger. You can do this by helping them see what
Thanksgiving, like many holidays, is hard on children who come from disrupted homes. On top of the normal stresses that come with a holiday season, children of divorce face stark reminders of how their family has changed, and most face a day without at least one of their parents. While many of us will be pondering and remembering all the things we have to be thankful for, these kids are likely lamenting another holiday which serves to remind them just how much their life has changed. So, if you know a child from a divorced or otherwise disrupted homes this holiday season, there is still something you can do to bring a little bit of light to that child’s holiday.
So, here at Hope 4 Hurting Kids, we encourage you to do the following this Thursday for Thanksgiving:
- Pick a child from a disrupted home (particularly those kids who might currently be going through their parents divorce. This can be a child from your ministry, from your neighborhood or from your family. And, you are of course more than welcome to do this with more than one child.
- Get the child’s contact information for where they will be Thanksgiving day. Call their parent(s) and ask. Get cell phone numbers, land line numbers, e-mail, Facebook account, Instagram account, twitter account or whatever other way you can get in touch with them.
- Sometime on thanksgiving day, contact the child. Call them on the phone. Send a text message. Post online and tag them. Whatever works, but the more personal the better.
- Let them know when you contact them that you wanted to take a few minutes on this special day to let them know that you are Thankful that they are in your life.
- Ask them how their holiday is going, and provide encouragement where needed.
Something as simple as a phone call (or other contact) from someone to let them know they are special can have a significant impact on these kids and help an otherwise difficult day that much more bearable.
Sometimes life has a way of getting us down no matter how hard we try. This inspiration quote from Mother Teresa reminds us why it is important to persevere.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
FORGIVE them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
BE KIND anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
BE HONEST and SINCERE anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
BE HAPPY anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
DO GOOD anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
GIVE YOUR BEST anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
My mother died days after I turned six years old. For six years, my father raised myself and my three brothers by himself to fulfill a promise he had made to my mother. When I was twelve, my father remarried and we plunged head first into the world of step families. At the time, it all seemed so very normal to me at the same time all the while knowing that my family was different. There were some struggles and some hard times, but that’s family. That’s my story. We all have a story, and for those of us who did not grow up in “traditional families” often have stories marked by loss, pain and longing for something we felt like we should have had. It’s not always all bad though. Sometimes our stories are also marked by perseverance and overcoming. We want to hear your stories. More importantly, we want other people to hear your stories.
Do you fit into any of the following categories as a kid?
- Growing up or grew up without a father?
- Growing up or grew up without a mother?
- Live or lived in single-parent home?
- Live or lived in a step-family?
- Live or lived with unmarried cohabiting parent?
- Have gay parents?
- Have step or half siblings?
- Live or lived with your grandparents?
- Live or lived with an aunt, uncle or other relative?
- Live or lived with a friends’ family?
- Growing up or grew up in foster care?
- Growing up or grew up in some other environment other than with your natural married parents?
Editor’s Note: Here at Hope 4 Hurting Kids, we a pleased and excited to welcome Cindi Peeff to our team. Cindi has worked extensively with kids as a Children’s Pastor and a mom. She brings a wealth of expertise and personal experience to the table, and we are certain that our users will learn much from her. Please join us in welcoming Cindi to the team.
I was 28 years old before I ever met my biological father. I walked into work early one Saturday morning, and he was standing there. He just showed up. I had only spoken to him for the first time a few days earlier, and we hadn’t made plans to meet. I guess he was anxious to meet me, which struck me as strange given that it had taken him 28 years to even see if I existed. Let’s just say, it wasn’t fun finishing out that particular work day.
Meeting my father for the first time elicited a wide range of emotions from inside me. It was crazy! I had finally met the man that I looked like – the one my mother didn’t feel was worthy of being in my life. To be honest, I’m not sure if I was hurt, angry, nervous, or all of the above.
I found a notebook after that weekend and wrote down some thoughts. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I guess I just needed some way to try to make sense of the situation.
At Hope 4 Hurting Kids, we are committed to resourcing others to help kids who are struggling through all kinds of life issues. To that end, we continue to expand our repository of articles as well as the listing of authors here on Hope 4 Hurting Kids and the areas of expertise that they bring to the table.
We are also committed to offering resources to directly help young people who are suffering. A few weeks ago, we unveiled our chat rooms which offer young people a place to go to find a community of individuals experiencing similar circumstances and individuals committed to helping.
Today, we are excited to offer two new ways that suffering young people can find help here on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.
1. Ask Us
Whereas the Hope 4 Hurting Kids Chat Rooms are intended primarily to offer a form of community support, the Ask Us feature offers a more “in depth” response more along the lines of a continuing mentoring relationship. If a you or a young person you know has a question or needs to talk t0 someone, they simply fill out a “ticket” on the Ask Us page and someone from Hope 4 Hurting Kids will respond. The conversation can continue as long as the person initiating the request wishes and allows for a deeper discussion and exploration.
We are excited here at Hope 4 Hurting Kids today to announce the official launch of our Chat Rooms for helping kids and teens to deal with difficult issues and emotions.
At Hope 4 Hurting Kids, we exist to help two distinct groups of people:
- Young people who are experiencing hurt, pain and adversity; and
- Adults who work with and love those kids (this includes parents, teachers, children’s and youth ministry workers, coaches, grandparents, friends and anyone else who cares for these kids and wants to help).
These chat rooms are our attempt to offer hurting kids a vehicles for talking to others about the issues they are facing, finding others who are in similar circumstances and getting help from caring adults. To that end, we have introduced chat rooms covering the following categories:
- Abuse & Neglect
- Anxiety & Fear
- Coping Skills
- Cutting & Self-Harm
- Depression & Sadness
- Divorce & Modern Families
- Domestic Violence
- Eating Disorders & Body Image
- Emotions (General)
- Foster & Adoptive Families
- Parent & Family Issues
- Sexual Abuse & Rape
- Substance Abuse (Drugs & Alcohol)
- Just Need to Talk
As word spreads and these chat rooms grow more popular, we hope that a community of hope and support will form surrounding these rooms. Additionally, while the rooms are not monitored 24/7, we do check them frequently. So, if no one’s around feel free to leave a question or comment and someone will get back to you in the room.