Helping Your Child Deal With Divorce is a tri-fold pamphlet we’ve designed for parents. If you are a divorced or divorcing parent who is looking for information on how to help your child, this pamphlet is for you. It is also designed for those who work with kids who might be asked by a parent how to help their child. The pamphlet covers basic information like how to tell you child, helping your child to grieve, dealing with emotions and helping your child after the divorce. It also includes links, books and other resources that might be helpful. You can access a pdf version of the pamphlet by clicking the photo above or here.For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.
Welcome to part 4 of our 10 part series on child abuse and neglect. Today, we will be exploring the increased risks of child abuse and neglect for children of divorce, cohabiting households and single parent families.
One of the portions of the NIS-4 report that struck us was the increased risk of abuse and neglect for children of divorce, children living in cohabiting relationships and children living in single parent families. Throughout this discussion of different charts and statistics below, you will note that one thing is absolutely consistent; the least risk of child maltreatment is for those children living with married biological parents. Let’s have a look.
This first chart looks at all instances of harm standard maltreatment as well as specific rates of abuse and neglect by family structure. By far, the largest risk of maltreatment to kids is when they are in a living situation with one parent and that parent’s cohabiting partner with 57.2 children per thousand in this living arrangement suffering maltreatment. That is 8.4 times higher than the rate for children living with married biological parents (6.8 per thousand). Cohabiting married parents and other married parents, such as step families, have the next lowest rates at 23.5 and 24.4 per thousand respectively. Children in single parent families are maltreated at a rate of 28.4 per thousand.
The rates for abuse follow a similar pattern with the exception of the fact that kids living in other married parents and cohabiting biological parent homes are more likely to be abused than those living in single parent families. Neglect follows the same pattern as all maltreatment except for the fact that kids in a home with cohabiting biological parents are slightly more likely to be neglected than those from homes classified as “other married parents.”
A recent report which enumerated the risks associated with kids whose parents are cohabiting rather than married showed that one of the significant risks for children in those living arrangement was an increased chance of suffering abuse or neglect. In reviewing the statistics set forth in that report, it became evident that the risk of abuse and neglect is a very real risk for children in cohabiting households, children from single parent families and children of divorce. In this article, we will define child abuse and neglect, examine some of the statistics regarding the level of abuse and neglect for children in different living situations, list potential warning signs of abuse and neglect and discuss what to do in the event that you suspect a child is being abused.
Introduction to the Magnitude of Child Abuse and Neglect
We will get to much more detailed statistics on the prevalence of abuse and types of living arrangement which are more prone to abuse and neglect later in this article. However, I think it is important to have some grasp of the magnitude of the problem and why it should be important to anyone who works with kids on a regular basis. According to the January 2010 report entitled “Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (referred to herein as NIS-4), over 1.2 million children suffer harm from child abuse or neglect per year. That equates to 17.1 children per 1,000 or approximately 1 in every 58 children. When children who are endangered by abuse or neglect are added to those figures, the numbers rise to over 2.9 million kids or 39.5 per thousand. That equates to one in every 25 children. The reach and magnitude of abuse and neglect are as varied as the forms of abuse and the types of children who experience it.
In the article “When The Bough Breaks,” Martin Johnson wrote:
H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives.
When parents get a divorce, there are a ton of changes that happen. Sometimes one parent moves out and you visit them occasionally. Sometimes both parents may need to move. Sometimes you continue to see both of your parents regularly. Sometimes you don’t. In some divorces, the children even stay in the same house while the parents move in and out depending on who the custody agreement. Every divorce is different.
Sometimes, children of divorce wonder if they even still belong to a family. When you travel back and forth between two homes, it sometimes feels like you don’t fully belong in either place. Are the people in one of those homes your family while the others are not? Maybe it’s just you and your siblings and one parent. Is that still a family? Maybe you live with your grandparents or aunt and uncle since the divorce. Are they part of your family? Are your parents still part of your family? Maybe your mom is remarried. Are your stepdad and stepsiblings part of your family? Maybe your Dad divorced your stepmom. Is she still part of your family? It can all get really confusing following a divorce.
It all comes down to one questions – What is a family? The fact is that, while living arrangements might change following a divorce, who makes up your family does not. Your family still consists of your mother and father and siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles and anybody else who was part of your family before the divorce – whether you still live in the same house or not. The one change that you may experience, in time, is the addition of new family members. If your parents get remarried or have additional children following a divorce, you will have new people in your family. Sometimes that is hard to get used to, and sometimes it takes a while before those people feel like family. That’s ok.
The important thing is that you not get caught up so much in what the definition of family is. Instead, be grateful for the people in your life that love you!
H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives.
Many children of single parents end up in a situation where their parents start dating again and they don’t like the new boyfriend or girlfriend. If there is a reason not to like them – like they make you feel uncomfortable or are physically or emotionally abusive, you need to tell someone about it. However, if you just don’t like them and you don’t know exactly why, there are some things you should keep in mind to help you adjust to your parent’s new love interest and keep from damaging your own relationship with your parent:
- Remember, your parent’s boyfriend/girlfriend is not your new parent. They shouldn’t act like they are, and you shouldn’t expect them to fill that role.
- Talk to your mom or dad about it, but make sure you do it in a respectful way. Explain that you don’t like the idea of them dating. If it hasn’t been long since the divorce, explain that you need time to adjust to the divorce. Explain that you are trying, but that they need to understand that this hurts you. Don’t give ultimatums and don’t place blame. Just share your feelings.
- Remember that you don’t have to like the person your parent dates. Unless that person makes you feel unsafe for some reason, you don’t have to like them. Don’t try to force yourself to feel a certain way, you can’t.
- Try to start over. If there isn’t a reason not to like the new person in your parent’s life, go back and “redo.” Start over remembering that you are just working on forming a new friendship regardless of what your parent feels about this parent. Engage in idle chit-chat. Find things that you both like and talk about them (even it’s ice cream). Without the pressure on either of you, you might find it easier to start a relationship and even form a friendship with this person if you just start over.
- Guard your heart. Your parent might be in love, but that doesn’t mean this relationship will last. If you do put some effort into it and end up liking this person, guard your heart a little bit to avoid being overly vulnerable in the event the relationship ends.
- Work on your relationship with your parent. Just because the two of you disagree doesn’t have to destroy the relationship. Find some common ground or work together to set up some ground rules that you both can live with.
You might also find something useful in the following previous questions answered here on I Am A Child of Divorce:
- How Can I Keep My Parents From Dating After a Divorce?
- What Do I Do When My Parents Start Dating Other People?
It was a blustery, cold November day in Pennsylvania as I preached my Father’s funeral. Many Pastors have officiated the final service for their parents, but this was different. Standing at the cemetery that day were family members and friends that knew the real story.
You see, some 60 plus years before, a three-year-old little boy heard a door slam shut, and his Dad was gone. The resulting divorce created a single parent home, a kid growing up without a Dad, and all the resulting issues and hurts that come from it imbedded in a young heart. That divorce many years ago was still pretty much socially unacceptable, and the children of divorce often felt that resentment. Down deep in the heart that young boy began a life long struggle with feelings of rejection, abandonment, insecurity, a struggle to believe that he could be loved by anyone and a feeling that even God couldn’t love him.
The young boy’s mother was a strong Christ follower. She was a Registered Nurse, and she did everything she could to make a home and raise that boy to love the Lord. They moved in with Grandparents, and life went on. There was school and church every Sunday, but those nagging hurts deep in his heart never seemed to dissipate. No one really seemed to notice. Like many children of divorce, this young boy buried his difficult emotions deep inside. Most adults assume(d) that “kids will get over the divorce”, but the truth is quite the opposite. Heart damage is not something that heals overnight, and today there are thousands of adults who are still struggling from their fractured family.
Over the years, that young boy grew into a man himself. For all of those years though “Dad” was simply gone. There was never a birthday gift or even a card, no Christmas gift. He missed his Son’s baptism, High School Graduation, and even his wedding. He was indeed fatherless. The Son went on to college at Penn State and then heard the call of God for ministry. For the next 5 years he prepared for ministry, and eventually became a Pastor.
Editor’s Note: Linda Ranson Jacobs is back with a “Top Ten” list. This week, she offers ten ways to pray for children of divorce and their families. You can access a printer friendly (and shareable) pdf version of this list by clicking anywhere in the list below.Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.
Last week we reported on the release of a brand new report titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” by Elizabeth Marquardt, Amy Ziettlow, and Charles E. Stokes studying the impacts of divorce on children’s faith. The following represent ten key observations and conclusions from that report.
1. Churches struggle to reach children of divorce.
“When parents do not involve their children in an active life of faith, churches seem bewildered about how to reach them.”
2. Children of Divorce are less religious on whole than children from intact families.
“While there are a diverse range of theories about why the adult offspring of divorced parents are less likely to be religiously involved than their peers from intact families, little doubt exists about the correlation or connection.”
“…when children of divorce reach adulthood, compared to those who grew up in intact families, they feel less religious on the whole and are less likely to be involved in the regular practice of a faith.”
“The authors found, for example, that those raised in happy, intact marriages were more than twice as likely to attend religious services, compared to those raised in good divorces. And, those raised in happy, intact marriages were more likely to report an absence of negative experiences of God, compared to those raised in good divorces.”
3. Children of divorce are more likely to leave religious practice all together.
“One important study by Leora E. Lawton and Regina Bures found that Catholic and moderate Protestant children of divorce are more than twice as likely to leave religious practice altogether, and that conservative Protestants are more than three times as likely to do so.”
4. Children of divorce are more likely to consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.”
“It is also becoming clear that grown children of divorce stand at the leading edge of a generation that considers itself “spiritual but not religious.” Yet they form a kind of broken leading edge, with spiritual stories quite often characterized by loss or suffering. Having perhaps turned to God for solace and hope, they may think of themselves as spiritual persons, but they report more difficulty practicing a faith within religious institutions.”
“In a separate study also using the Glenn and Marquardt data, Zhai and colleagues find that adult children of divorce are much more likely to identify themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’”
5. A parental divorce during adolescence increases the odds of some sort of religious change.
“…it appears as if the experience of parental breakup in adolescence triggers an increase in the odds of religious change, whether that change is a move toward or away from religion.”
6. Children formulate their image of God based on their experiences with their own parents.
“…children’s early images of God arise at least in part from their lived experience with their own parents.”
7. Parents and families are key to a child’s faith journey.
“Parents play a vital role in influencing children’s religious lives after divorce, particularly in a culture in which congregational engagement and other forms of civic involvement are no longer as normative as they once were.”
“Melinda Denton writes that the greatest predictor of the religious lives of youth is the religious lives of their parents: ‘Youth with highly religious parents are much more likely to be highly religious themselves, while youth whose parents are disengaged from religion are more likely to be disengaged as well.’”
“…some studies show that family practices are more closely linked than family structure to strong faith in adulthood, but intact families are more likely to have the stability necessary to maintain these practices.”
8. A father’s involvement is of particular importance to a child’s future faith.
“Overall, as reported by Elisa Zhai of Miami University and colleagues in an analysis of the Glenn and Marquardt data, the link between parental divorce and lower likelihood of the grown children’s regular practice of a religion appears to be significantly explained by lower levels of father’s involvement in the religious lives of these children.”
9. A so-called “good divorce” does not eliminate the faith issues faced by children of divorce.
“The odds of religious attendance are more than twice as high for those raised in happy, intact marriages compared to those raised in amicable divorces.”
10. Divorce can provide an opportunity for children to develop a deeper relationship with God if their questions are answered and they a provided with spiritual role models.
“The health and future of congregations depends upon understanding, reaching out to, and nurturing as potential leaders those who have come of age in an era of dramatic social changes in family structure. The suffering felt by children of divorce may actually offer a pathway toward healing and growth, not only for themselves but for the churches.”
For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.
This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids on January 21, 2013.
Several years ago, the Institute for American Values released a new report titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” The report, written by Elizabeth Marquardt, Amy Ziettlow, and Charles E. Stokes, represents a call to action for churches in regards to ministering to children of divorce.
The report starts quite simply by stating,
“It’s time for people of faith to talk about the impact of divorce on the next generation.”Continue reading
It’s one thing to know something about a single parent family’s situation. It’s quite another thing to understand a situation enough that you can empathize, appreciate the frustrations involved in living in a single parent home and be tolerant of a family’s situation.
In this article, I’d like to look at actually understanding what goes on inside a single parent home. Try to place yourself in the role of being a single parent. First of all there is no one to help you. I mean NO ONE! You are on 24/7 and that’s not for just a day or week or a month or this year but for many single parents it is for years.
Let’s look in on some typical single parents. In this first scene we see a mom sitting in the audience of a school concert. She is sitting there looking very calm on the outside but on the inside experiencing unbelievable turmoil.
“Now let’s see, if Chase’s group will just perform in the next fifteen minutes then I can sneak out of this concert and go across town, and if I don’t hit too many red lights, I can get there just in time to see Heather play soccer. If I can just stay long enough to see one quarter, are they called quarters or what? Oh well, I have to learn about soccer on another day, I don’t have time to worry about it now. Let’s see where was I? Oh yes, I can come back here pick up Chase before the end of this performance and then we can rush back, get Heather, go home and make dinner. Oh yeah, I’ve got to remember to pick up some milk for breakfast. Then while dinner is cooking I can start the laundry. I hope those kids got the clothes sorted. Did Chase say he needs tape for that science project? Oh well, I might as well get some tape while I’m at the store. After dinner I’ll have to remember to set aside some time to help Chase with that project. After I get the kids to bed I’ve got to remember to go online and pay the credit card bill. Please let my paycheck get to the bank before the credit card payment! I’m going to have to remember to check the date online on that bill and make sure I can pay it after 11:00 pm in our time zone and not get charged another late fee. I think there’s a three-hour difference in our time zones. Honestly, I can’t keep up with when everything goes through the bank and I’ve got to remember that I wrote a check for the school fundraiser. Did I even give Heather that check yesterday morning? Then I’ll have to get my clothes ready for tomorrow. I think I’ll wear that blue outfit but I have to remember to fix that tear. Gee, I wonder how many more washings that outfit can take. It must be five years old by now but I’ve got that important meeting at work tomorrow and I’ve got to wear something that looks half-way decent. Whew! Maybe I can get to bed by midnight. Oh well, that’s earlier than last night. Oh, shoot I was supposed to call my mom tonight. I’ll have to remember to try and find time tomorrow night.”