Hope 4 Hurting Kids Helping young people move from hurt and trauma to Hope and Healing. 2017-11-22T13:00:52Z http://hope4hurtingkids.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Linda Ranson Jacobs http://blog.dc4k.org <![CDATA[Connecting Through Ritual]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=2430 2017-10-20T00:43:26Z 2017-11-22T13:00:52Z When parents divorce, children are more likely to lose their connections with those around them. Many of us in the Christian world have known that children are born to connect. We have observed and watched as children become disconnected. Many problems facing young people today are due in large part to our failure to meet the children’s most basic human need for connectedness. Rituals help children connect with you, the leaders. Rituals bond relationships together. Divorce brings many changes to the child. The child loses the two-parent home and access to both parents under the same roof. The children may experience the loss of their self-esteem and their sense of well-being. They may lose a lifestyle. They lose their things, and some even lose the home they have always known. Children may attach themselves to their things, and then when those things disappear, the children get confused. Things and possessions bring a sense of comfort, control and a sense of order to a child’s life. Connecting through rituals With the divorce rate, our families have only gotten weaker. While we may not be able to stop the divorce rate immediately, we can assist the children and go to battle for them in this world of confusion. We can make the children stronger by connecting with them. The following information is adapted from the book Rituals for Our Times by Evan Imber-Black, Ph.D., and Janine Roberts, Ed.D. What are rituals? Rituals are points of connections. Rituals usually involve the performance of actions or procedures in a set, ordered and even ceremonial way. They are social interactions that are repeated, coordinated and significant. Rituals can be daily interactions or they could be once a year, but they’re repeated. They are coordinated. One has to know what’s expected of you and when to show up for the ritual. Rituals offer opportunities to make meaning from the familiar and the mysterious at the same time. Rituals and the Child of Divorce In the book Rituals for Our Times, the authors state, “Rituals are a central part of life whether it be in how meals are shared together or how major events are marked. They are the lens through which we can see our emotional connections to our parents, siblings, spouse, children, and dear friends. They connect us with our past, define our present life, and show us a path to our future as we pass on ceremonies, traditions, objects, symbols, and ways of being with each other handed down from previous generations.” But why do rituals need to be replaced for the child of divorce? Rituals are a living history. They are part of our family’s living history. Children of divorce lose their family’s living history or at the very least that history is altered. Children need to create rituals they can pass on to their children. Dr. Becky Bailey who wrote Conscious Discipline says, “Rituals are the emotional glue that holds relationships together.” Since so many children’s relationships become strained and even nonexistent through the divorce, they need to be able to develop new points of connections. They need to connect. And they need to connect often. She also says that rituals soothe the lower centers of our brain. That part of the brain, the brain stem, is about fight or flight. When children are in a stressful situation or when faced with divorce or other situations, they will go into the brain stem or fight or flight mode. Rituals soothe the brain and allow the child to move into the limbic system of the brain. With empathy added by the adults around them, we can move the child on up the brain to the cortex where the child can reason and think and rationalize what is going on. Another aim for rituals, as far as children are concerned, is predictability. Children from divorced homes need predictability. They need to know they can depend on specific things happening at a specific time. So many times they have the perception that their lives are out of control and in disarray. Predictability lends itself to security. Routines also lend themselves to security in the child’s life. But unlike routines, rituals involve that special feeling of connecting with another human being. Rituals allow us to connect with each other in an emotional, intimate way. Children in divorced homes are losing the ability to explore and take part in rituals. To our children today, rituals are quickly becoming a lost art. As church leaders, you can help children and single parents develop healthy rituals. This can be especially advantageous when children have to travel between two homes. In Rituals for Our Times authors Evan Imber-Black and Janine Roberts state, “The movement of children from one household to another requires special attention to the rituals of leaving and returning, as these express more complicated issues of family membership, loyalty or unresolved conflicts between parents. Children may receive the hidden message that they are not to express sadness in leaving one household to go to another and their good-bye ritual should be swift or secretive.” As church leaders, think of ways to create rituals with the children in your groups. It might be a hello ritual or a good-bye ritual. Almost anything can be turned into a ritual of connection, if the focus is on the relationship. 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 March 23, 2012.

The post Connecting Through Ritual appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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Connecting Through RitualWhen parents divorce, children are more likely to lose their connections with those around them. Many of us in the Christian world have known that children are born to connect. We have observed and watched as children become disconnected. Many problems facing young people today are due in large part to our failure to meet the children’s most basic human need for connectedness.

Rituals help children connect with you, the leaders. Rituals bond relationships together. Divorce brings many changes to the child. The child loses the two-parent home and access to both parents under the same roof. The children may experience the loss of their self-esteem and their sense of well-being. They may lose a lifestyle. They lose their things, and some even lose the home they have always known. Children may attach themselves to their things, and then when those things disappear, the children get confused. Things and possessions bring a sense of comfort, control and a sense of order to a child’s life.

Connecting through rituals

With the divorce rate, our families have only gotten weaker. While we may not be able to stop the divorce rate immediately, we can assist the children and go to battle for them in this world of confusion. We can make the children stronger by connecting with them.

The following information is adapted from the book Rituals for Our Times by Evan Imber-Black, Ph.D., and Janine Roberts, Ed.D.

What are rituals?

  • Rituals are points of connections. Rituals usually involve the performance of actions or procedures in a set, ordered and even ceremonial way.
  • They are social interactions that are repeated, coordinated and significant. Rituals can be daily interactions or they could be once a year, but they’re repeated. They are coordinated.
  • One has to know what’s expected of you and when to show up for the ritual.
  • Rituals offer opportunities to make meaning from the familiar and the mysterious at the same time.

Rituals and the Child of Divorce

In the book Rituals for Our Times, the authors state,

“Rituals are a central part of life whether it be in how meals are shared together or how major events are marked. They are the lens through which we can see our emotional connections to our parents, siblings, spouse, children, and dear friends. They connect us with our past, define our present life, and show us a path to our future as we pass on ceremonies, traditions, objects, symbols, and ways of being with each other handed down from previous generations.”

But why do rituals need to be replaced for the child of divorce? Rituals are a living history. They are part of our family’s living history. Children of divorce lose their family’s living history or at the very least that history is altered. Children need to create rituals they can pass on to their children.

Dr. Becky Bailey who wrote Conscious Discipline says,

“Rituals are the emotional glue that holds relationships together.”

Since so many children’s relationships become strained and even nonexistent through the divorce, they need to be able to develop new points of connections. They need to connect. And they need to connect often.

She also says that rituals soothe the lower centers of our brain. That part of the brain, the brain stem, is about fight or flight. When children are in a stressful situation or when faced with divorce or other situations, they will go into the brain stem or fight or flight mode. Rituals soothe the brain and allow the child to move into the limbic system of the brain. With empathy added by the adults around them, we can move the child on up the brain to the cortex where the child can reason and think and rationalize what is going on.

Another aim for rituals, as far as children are concerned, is predictability. Children from divorced homes need predictability. They need to know they can depend on specific things happening at a specific time. So many times they have the perception that their lives are out of control and in disarray. Predictability lends itself to security. Routines also lend themselves to security in the child’s life. But unlike routines, rituals involve that special feeling of connecting with another human being.

Rituals allow us to connect with each other in an emotional, intimate way. Children in divorced homes are losing the ability to explore and take part in rituals. To our children today, rituals are quickly becoming a lost art.

As church leaders, you can help children and single parents develop healthy rituals. This can be especially advantageous when children have to travel between two homes. In Rituals for Our Times authors Evan Imber-Black and Janine Roberts state,

“The movement of children from one household to another requires special attention to the rituals of leaving and returning, as these express more complicated issues of family membership, loyalty or unresolved conflicts between parents. Children may receive the hidden message that they are not to express sadness in leaving one household to go to another and their good-bye ritual should be swift or secretive.”

As church leaders, think of ways to create rituals with the children in your groups. It might be a hello ritual or a good-bye ritual. Almost anything can be turned into a ritual of connection, if the focus is on the relationship.

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 March 23, 2012.

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Wayne Stocks <![CDATA[Giving Thanks for Children of Divorce at Thanksgiving]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=2723 2017-07-27T02:07:17Z 2017-11-20T13:00:28Z 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. 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 November 24, 2014.

The post Giving Thanks for Children of Divorce at Thanksgiving appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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ThanksgivingThanksgiving, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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 November 24, 2014.

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Wayne Stocks <![CDATA[H4HK FAQs: Is There Anything Good About Divorce?]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=3141 2017-10-19T01:26:15Z 2017-11-17T13:00:25Z H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives. The following article was submitted by a user of the site. Yikes. What a tough question! Divorce is tough, and divorce hurts. There is no doubt about that. Perhaps your parents are in the process of finalizing their split or maybe they’ve already been separated for years. Either way, it is a healthy exercise to look for the positive even in really bad situations, and you will find it beneficial to think about any “good” things that might come have come out of this situation. After all, if life hands you lemons…make lemonade, right?!? My parents divorced 20 years ago. I was 4 years old at the time. If you asked me then, I would have told you that nothing good can come out of divorce. Looking back though, there were some positive things. #1 Less Yelling (sort of) Many times you will find that parents yell a whole lot prior to a divorce. If your parents are going through a divorce or are divorced now, you might look back and realize that the yelling was really kicked up a notch before they split. When parents split up, the level of fighting tends to decrease. In my case, the fighting was replaced with a strange silence that I wasn’t used to, and I enjoyed it. That’s not to say that your parents will never fight after the divorce. Some still do, but if you’ve been living the daily grind of listening to your parents’ never ending arguments, the divorce may give you some much needed peace and quiet. #2 Learning About Yourself Many times when parents fight, kids find themselves “playing roles.” You may play the role of the peacemaker, the family clown or the serious one in order to try to please your parents and make them happy. For me, I spent hours trying to play the peacemaker and make my parents happy again. After the divorce, and with the benefit of living in an environment with less fighting, I discovered something new about myself: I was an introvert! I liked the silence, and I liked having quiet time to myself. After having to spend so many nights trying to keep the peace, I was exhausted, and you may be too. I didn’t realize my outgoing personality was actually the result of turning myself into an environmental chameleon. Whatever mood my parents where in, so was I. I tried to fix their hurt by being funny and cute and silly. After the divorce I had more time to think and discover just who I really was outside of my family, and you may find out something about you too! #3 Learning From Others’ Mistakes There are basically two ways to learn hard lessons in life – through your own experiences and through the experiences of someone else. Learning by watching someone else saves you a lot of the pain and heartache that you will experience if you insist on learning everything yourself. Divorce is no exception. By experiencing and living through your parents’ divorce, you can learn lessons that you might otherwise have to learn “the hard way.” Though I was young when my parents divorced, I was old enough to recognize their inability to cope and deal with their own emotions. There was just something not right about the way they approached conflict. As I grew older I watched as my mom and dad bounce from relationship to relationship always bringing the same emotional baggage to each one and undermining the relationship. As I watched them live their lives from the background I hoped that would realize they couldn’t run from their problems! By watching them, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned what not to do when dealing with the hurts of the heart. Find answers to other frequently asked questions on our H4HK FAQs Page. 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.

The post H4HK FAQs: Is There Anything Good About Divorce? appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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Good About Divorce

H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives.

The following article was submitted by a user of the site.

Yikes. What a tough question! Divorce is tough, and divorce hurts. There is no doubt about that. Perhaps your parents are in the process of finalizing their split or maybe they’ve already been separated for years. Either way, it is a healthy exercise to look for the positive even in really bad situations, and you will find it beneficial to think about any “good” things that might come have come out of this situation. After all, if life hands you lemons…make lemonade, right?!?

My parents divorced 20 years ago. I was 4 years old at the time. If you asked me then, I would have told you that nothing good can come out of divorce. Looking back though, there were some positive things.

#1 Less Yelling (sort of)

Many times you will find that parents yell a whole lot prior to a divorce. If your parents are going through a divorce or are divorced now, you might look back and realize that the yelling was really kicked up a notch before they split. When parents split up, the level of fighting tends to decrease. In my case, the fighting was replaced with a strange silence that I wasn’t used to, and I enjoyed it. That’s not to say that your parents will never fight after the divorce. Some still do, but if you’ve been living the daily grind of listening to your parents’ never ending arguments, the divorce may give you some much needed peace and quiet.

#2 Learning About Yourself

Many times when parents fight, kids find themselves “playing roles.” You may play the role of the peacemaker, the family clown or the serious one in order to try to please your parents and make them happy. For me, I spent hours trying to play the peacemaker and make my parents happy again. After the divorce, and with the benefit of living in an environment with less fighting, I discovered something new about myself: I was an introvert! I liked the silence, and I liked having quiet time to myself.

After having to spend so many nights trying to keep the peace, I was exhausted, and you may be too. I didn’t realize my outgoing personality was actually the result of turning myself into an environmental chameleon. Whatever mood my parents where in, so was I. I tried to fix their hurt by being funny and cute and silly. After the divorce I had more time to think and discover just who I really was outside of my family, and you may find out something about you too!

#3 Learning From Others’ Mistakes

There are basically two ways to learn hard lessons in life – through your own experiences and through the experiences of someone else. Learning by watching someone else saves you a lot of the pain and heartache that you will experience if you insist on learning everything yourself. Divorce is no exception. By experiencing and living through your parents’ divorce, you can learn lessons that you might otherwise have to learn “the hard way.”

Though I was young when my parents divorced, I was old enough to recognize their inability to cope and deal with their own emotions. There was just something not right about the way they approached conflict. As I grew older I watched as my mom and dad bounce from relationship to relationship always bringing the same emotional baggage to each one and undermining the relationship. As I watched them live their lives from the background I hoped that would realize they couldn’t run from their problems! By watching them, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned what not to do when dealing with the hurts of the heart.

Find answers to other frequently asked questions on our H4HK FAQs Page. 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.

The post H4HK FAQs: Is There Anything Good About Divorce? appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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Brad Iverson <![CDATA[One Cold November Day]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=3999 2017-11-16T03:19:43Z 2017-11-16T13:00:53Z 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. God blessed that Pastor with a wonderful loving wife, and in time 3 wonderful kids. Those kids sometimes wondered why they only had one Grandpa, instead of two, and wondered what the missing Grandpa was like. Some 40 plus years after that cold November day, something happened in that Pastor’s life. One Father’s Day Sunday, as the Pastor was preaching, and God directed him to say, “Some of you have unsaved Dad’s that you need to share Christ with.” A ton of conviction hit that pastor’s heart, “I have never shared Christ with my own Dad.” That moment of conviction led to a search, and that Pastor’s Dad was “found” in Miami, FL. He had remarried, had another Son, and was living life his way. But, just a few weeks on from that Sunday morning, the Pastor along with his wife and kids were sitting in a hotel room in Miami. He picked up the phone, and dialed his Dad’s number. It would be his first conversation with his Dad in nearly 40 years. Over the coming years the Pastor and his Dad reestablished a relationship. It was never as “close” as it could have or should have been, but those Grandkids finally got to meet their Granddad. The Pastor and his Dad went deer hunting together on several occasions and often shared some great conversation while in tree stands. And, that Pastor was able on several occasions to share Christ and talk about spiritual things with his Dad. One day though, the Pastor got a call. His Dad was seriously ill and in a hospital in Florida. He was weak, and most of the time unconscious. Now ministering in Texas, the Pastor and his wife flew to Florida to be by his Dad’s bedside. I will never forget walking into that hospital room. My Dad, who had been mostly unconscious, turned his head and looked at me, with a faint smile he said, “Son, I have been waiting for you to come, I want to go to Heaven.” We held each other’s hands and prayed. In just moments Dad would be unconscious again, and in just a couple days he passed from death unto life. My heart is so passionate about the effects of Fatherlessness and Motherlessness on the hearts of kids. I know first-hand about the many struggles, heart issues and effects of broken families that kids carry into adulthood. Many times kids from broken homes continue to struggle in relationships with their own spouse, relationships with friends, employers, society, and even God himself. I believe that God has uniquely qualified me, and called me to speak to these issues. I believe we need to sound the trumpet to parents contemplating divorce who think it’s not a big deal for the kids – that they will just “get over it.” Kids don’t just get over it! I know that first hand. I believe churches need to understand that there are hurting children (and hurting adults) in their ministry.  God has gifted the church to be an answer and to help and disciple these special folks who just need some special understanding and love. In the coming months and years I will be speaking and writing about all of these things. I’m not sure where all God will take us, but I sure look forward to the journey. Back to that cold November Day where we started. I got to share Jesus that day with some family I hardly even knew. I got to tell them about a wonderful Savior who died and rose again, who forgives our sins, all of them, and gives us eternal life. I still don’t fully understand the pathway where God has led me, but as we drove away from the cemetery that day I praised the Lord I was able to share Christ with [...]

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Cold November DayIt 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.

God blessed that Pastor with a wonderful loving wife, and in time 3 wonderful kids. Those kids sometimes wondered why they only had one Grandpa, instead of two, and wondered what the missing Grandpa was like.

Some 40 plus years after that cold November day, something happened in that Pastor’s life. One Father’s Day Sunday, as the Pastor was preaching, and God directed him to say,

“Some of you have unsaved Dad’s that you need to share Christ with.”

A ton of conviction hit that pastor’s heart, “I have never shared Christ with my own Dad.”

That moment of conviction led to a search, and that Pastor’s Dad was “found” in Miami, FL. He had remarried, had another Son, and was living life his way. But, just a few weeks on from that Sunday morning, the Pastor along with his wife and kids were sitting in a hotel room in Miami. He picked up the phone, and dialed his Dad’s number. It would be his first conversation with his Dad in nearly 40 years.

Over the coming years the Pastor and his Dad reestablished a relationship. It was never as “close” as it could have or should have been, but those Grandkids finally got to meet their Granddad. The Pastor and his Dad went deer hunting together on several occasions and often shared some great conversation while in tree stands. And, that Pastor was able on several occasions to share Christ and talk about spiritual things with his Dad.

One day though, the Pastor got a call. His Dad was seriously ill and in a hospital in Florida. He was weak, and most of the time unconscious. Now ministering in Texas, the Pastor and his wife flew to Florida to be by his Dad’s bedside. I will never forget walking into that hospital room. My Dad, who had been mostly unconscious, turned his head and looked at me, with a faint smile he said,

“Son, I have been waiting for you to come, I want to go to Heaven.”

We held each other’s hands and prayed. In just moments Dad would be unconscious again, and in just a couple days he passed from death unto life.

My heart is so passionate about the effects of Fatherlessness and Motherlessness on the hearts of kids. I know first-hand about the many struggles, heart issues and effects of broken families that kids carry into adulthood. Many times kids from broken homes continue to struggle in relationships with their own spouse, relationships with friends, employers, society, and even God himself.

I believe that God has uniquely qualified me, and called me to speak to these issues. I believe we need to sound the trumpet to parents contemplating divorce who think it’s not a big deal for the kids – that they will just “get over it.” Kids don’t just get over it! I know that first hand. I believe churches need to understand that there are hurting children (and hurting adults) in their ministry.  God has gifted the church to be an answer and to help and disciple these special folks who just need some special understanding and love. In the coming months and years I will be speaking and writing about all of these things. I’m not sure where all God will take us, but I sure look forward to the journey.

Back to that cold November Day where we started. I got to share Jesus that day with some family I hardly even knew. I got to tell them about a wonderful Savior who died and rose again, who forgives our sins, all of them, and gives us eternal life. I still don’t fully understand the pathway where God has led me, but as we drove away from the cemetery that day I praised the Lord I was able to share Christ with my Dad, and that someday we will be together again.

As I share the stories of my life, they will always end with hope. You see, no matter how difficult life has been for me at times, there was always the knowledge of a God in heaven that loved me immensely. There was always hope for a better day. If you are struggling today please realize that your story isn’t final. God does have a plan, and the day will come that you will smile again, and realize that you were never alone nor forsaken.  With the love of a Heavenly Father, there is indeed Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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Linda Ranson Jacobs http://blog.dc4k.org <![CDATA[10 Ways to Pray For Children of Divorce and Their Families]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=2769 2017-09-07T17:58:08Z 2017-11-15T13:00:25Z 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. 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 18, 2013.

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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.

Pray for Children

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 18, 2013.

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Wayne Stocks <![CDATA[Annoucement: Brad Iverson Joins Hope 4 Hurting Kids]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=3990 2017-11-13T03:46:50Z 2017-11-14T13:00:55Z Just under a year ago, we announced that Divorce Ministry 4 Kids was becoming Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Over the last year, we have continued to find new ways to help hurting kids and train those who work with them. We have published roughly 230 articles in that time with just under 100 representing new content and the remaining representing the migration from Divorce Ministry 4 Kids and I Am A Child of Divorce. We continued to create new free resources and offer new avenues to find help. And, as we move into our second year, we have some exciting plans to increase the utility and reach of Hope 4 Hurting Kids all with one aim in mind – to help hurting young people to find hope and healing. With that goal in mind, we are excited to announce that Brad Iverson has joined the team of Hope 4 Hurting Kids as an Advocate for Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Brad was born and grew up in the State of Pennsylvania. He graduated from Penn State University and Summit University (Baptist Bible College). He served as a Senior Pastor in Western New York, and then in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania for 25 years before he his wife Margie left the Pastorate to serve with Awana Clubs International. They served in Southern California, and later moved to Fort Worth, Texas where they now reside. Brad and his wife Margie met in a small church in Pennsylvania where Brad went to preach one Sunday. They have been married 43 years, and have been blessed with three children (all grown) and 3 Grandkids. Brad has a lifetime of ministry experience, and knows first hand some of the struggles and heart issues that hurting kids face, but more than knowing the struggles and hurts, he knows there is Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Brad will be contributing articles on a regular basis and speaking at conferences and other events on behalf of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. We are excited to have Brad on board and look forward to seeing how God will use his passion for helping hurting kids to further expand the work we are doing. Check back Thursday for Brad’s first article which will share a little more about his background and mission.

The post Annoucement: Brad Iverson Joins Hope 4 Hurting Kids appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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Brad IversonJust under a year ago, we announced that Divorce Ministry 4 Kids was becoming Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Over the last year, we have continued to find new ways to help hurting kids and train those who work with them. We have published roughly 230 articles in that time with just under 100 representing new content and the remaining representing the migration from Divorce Ministry 4 Kids and I Am A Child of Divorce. We continued to create new free resources and offer new avenues to find help. And, as we move into our second year, we have some exciting plans to increase the utility and reach of Hope 4 Hurting Kids all with one aim in mind – to help hurting young people to find hope and healing.

With that goal in mind, we are excited to announce that Brad Iverson has joined the team of Hope 4 Hurting Kids as an Advocate for Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Brad was born and grew up in the State of Pennsylvania. He graduated from Penn State University and Summit University (Baptist Bible College). He served as a Senior Pastor in Western New York, and then in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania for 25 years before he his wife Margie left the Pastorate to serve with Awana Clubs International. They served in Southern California, and later moved to Fort Worth, Texas where they now reside. Brad and his wife Margie met in a small church in Pennsylvania where Brad went to preach one Sunday. They have been married 43 years, and have been blessed with three children (all grown) and 3 Grandkids. Brad has a lifetime of ministry experience, and knows first hand some of the struggles and heart issues that hurting kids face, but more than knowing the struggles and hurts, he knows there is Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

Brad will be contributing articles on a regular basis and speaking at conferences and other events on behalf of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. We are excited to have Brad on board and look forward to seeing how God will use his passion for helping hurting kids to further expand the work we are doing. Check back Thursday for Brad’s first article which will share a little more about his background and mission.

The post Annoucement: Brad Iverson Joins Hope 4 Hurting Kids appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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Wayne Stocks <![CDATA[Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith? Advice Regarding Children of Divorce]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=2705 2017-09-06T18:34:32Z 2017-11-13T13:00:47Z For the last couple of weeks here on we have been talking about a new report titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” which confirms that divorce has a profound impact on a child’s faith.  Earlier this week, we looked at 10 Key Observations and Conclusions from that report.  We will get back to our extensive look at the spiritual impacts of divorce next week, but today we wanted to summarize what I found to be one of the most helpful portions of last week’s report – the advice contained at the end of the report for pastors, church members, parents and children of divorce.  We have created the information sheet below which quotes/paraphrases the advice from the report.  You can click on the graphic for a printable pdf version. 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 23, 2013.

The post Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith? Advice Regarding Children of Divorce appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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For the last couple of weeks here on we have been talking about a new report titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” which confirms that divorce has a profound impact on a child’s faith.  Earlier this week, we looked at 10 Key Observations and Conclusions from that report.  We will get back to our extensive look at the spiritual impacts of divorce next week, but today we wanted to summarize what I found to be one of the most helpful portions of last week’s report – the advice contained at the end of the report for pastors, church members, parents and children of divorce.  We have created the information sheet below which quotes/paraphrases the advice from the report.  You can click on the graphic for a printable pdf version.

Words of Advice

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 23, 2013.

The post Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith? Advice Regarding Children of Divorce appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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Wayne Stocks <![CDATA[H4HK FAQs: What Do I Do if My Parent Is Still With the Person Who Caused the Split?]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=3148 2017-10-19T00:23:10Z 2017-11-10T13:00:30Z H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives. One of the questions that comes up more than any other after parents separate is, what do I do if I don’t like the person my parent is dating? You can find some ideas here, and here if you find yourself in that situation. But, what if that person your Mom or Dad is still with is the person that caused the break up of your parents in the first place. Maybe the guy your Mom is with is the guy she cheated on your Dad with. Maybe your Dad’s new girlfriend is the woman he left your mom for in the first place. Maybe both of your parents are dating (or remarried to) the person they left your other parent for. How do you deal with that? Let’s start by acknowledging the pain and the hurt that this situation causes. When your parents split up, it hurts! When you’re left to pick up the pieces and trying to figure out how to move on with life, it causes pain, confusion, stress and so much more. The loss of your family (as you knew it) hurts, and it is a loss that must be grieved. When one (or both) of your parents cheats on the other and then leaves to be with the person they cheated with, the hurt and the pain can be that much worse. It is natural to feel betrayed, angry, confused or even abandoned. And, when your parent has a new person in their life, it oftentimes feels like they’re spending all of their time with that person and ignoring you when you need them the most. When that person is the one who “caused” the split, that feeling of being ignored or abandoned is even more intense. On top of all that, many times your parent will expect or pressure you to accept the new person in their life when that is the last thing on earth you want to do! So, what can you do about all that and how do you handle the situation? Here are a couple of suggestions: Talk to your mom or dad about how you are feeling. Let them know that while you understand they want you to accept this new person, you are having trouble forgiving them or making peace with them because of the role they played. Be respectful and understand that this conversation will be difficult for your parent (as well as you). That said, getting things out in the open may help you both of you to understand better where the other one is coming from. If your conversations always end in yelling and screaming, consider writing your parent a letter. Remember, this is about sharing what you’re going through not bad mouthing or attacking anybody. Find a trusted adult that you can talk to about what is going on and your feelings about this new person in your parent’s life. The worse thing you can do is to keep those feelings bottled up inside and/or act out in destructive ways instead of dealing with those emotions. Accept the fact that you are not required to hate the new person in your parents’ life. It may feel like betraying your other parent to give this person a chance, but it’s not. Chances are there was more to your parents splitting up than just this person. How would you feel about them if you had met under different circumstances? Practice forgiveness. It’s not always easy to forgive, and it might take you some time, but try to forgive your parent (and this new person) for what they’ve done and the pain they’ve caused you. Holding on to anger and hatred has little impact on them, but it will eat you up inside. Make the decision to forgive even if you don’t feel like it then work at it until the feelings match the decision (this may take a while, but it’s worth the journey). Start a journal. Write down all those things you want to say but know that you can’t (or shouldn’t). Something about writing those things out helps to smooth the pain a little bit. Look for the good, and choose to focus on that. There is generally some good in people who make bad choices and even in people that you can’t stand. What is good about this new person that you don’t like? Do you share any common interests or hobbies? Focus on those things rather than dwelling on the bad things. You don’t have to forget, and you don’t have to be buddy buddy, but choose to focus on the positive things for your own sake. Avoid conflict. Where possible, try to avoid unnecessary conflict with your parent and with their new partner. Discussion is good because it seeks resolution. Conflict only seeks to impose one another’s views on each other. As much as you might like to, you can’t change your parent and you can’t change your parent’s new partner. You can change how you choose to respond. Respond in such a way that chooses to avoid conflict rather than pouring fuel on the fire. Guard your heart. It’s easy to take on all of the pain, frustration, hatred and anger your parents are experiencing (or one parent is experiencing) as the result of a separation. You can be there for your parents without taking all of that on yourself. It’s not your responsibility, and frankly it’s not your place. Refuse to be a party to your parents’ conversations if they’re bad-mouthing one another, sharing details that you don’t really want or bad-mouthing your other parent’s new partner. Remind them that they are both your parents and you still love them both. Finally, remember that just because one person lied to you or violated your trust, it doesn’t mean that all people will. Don’t let your current circumstances color your view of [...]

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Person Who Caused the Split

H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives.

One of the questions that comes up more than any other after parents separate is, what do I do if I don’t like the person my parent is dating? You can find some ideas here, and here if you find yourself in that situation.

But, what if that person your Mom or Dad is still with is the person that caused the break up of your parents in the first place. Maybe the guy your Mom is with is the guy she cheated on your Dad with. Maybe your Dad’s new girlfriend is the woman he left your mom for in the first place. Maybe both of your parents are dating (or remarried to) the person they left your other parent for. How do you deal with that?

Let’s start by acknowledging the pain and the hurt that this situation causes. When your parents split up, it hurts! When you’re left to pick up the pieces and trying to figure out how to move on with life, it causes pain, confusion, stress and so much more. The loss of your family (as you knew it) hurts, and it is a loss that must be grieved.

When one (or both) of your parents cheats on the other and then leaves to be with the person they cheated with, the hurt and the pain can be that much worse. It is natural to feel betrayed, angry, confused or even abandoned. And, when your parent has a new person in their life, it oftentimes feels like they’re spending all of their time with that person and ignoring you when you need them the most. When that person is the one who “caused” the split, that feeling of being ignored or abandoned is even more intense. On top of all that, many times your parent will expect or pressure you to accept the new person in their life when that is the last thing on earth you want to do! So, what can you do about all that and how do you handle the situation? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Talk to your mom or dad about how you are feeling. Let them know that while you understand they want you to accept this new person, you are having trouble forgiving them or making peace with them because of the role they played. Be respectful and understand that this conversation will be difficult for your parent (as well as you). That said, getting things out in the open may help you both of you to understand better where the other one is coming from. If your conversations always end in yelling and screaming, consider writing your parent a letter. Remember, this is about sharing what you’re going through not bad mouthing or attacking anybody.
  2. Find a trusted adult that you can talk to about what is going on and your feelings about this new person in your parent’s life. The worse thing you can do is to keep those feelings bottled up inside and/or act out in destructive ways instead of dealing with those emotions.
  3. Accept the fact that you are not required to hate the new person in your parents’ life. It may feel like betraying your other parent to give this person a chance, but it’s not. Chances are there was more to your parents splitting up than just this person. How would you feel about them if you had met under different circumstances?
  4. Practice forgiveness. It’s not always easy to forgive, and it might take you some time, but try to forgive your parent (and this new person) for what they’ve done and the pain they’ve caused you. Holding on to anger and hatred has little impact on them, but it will eat you up inside. Make the decision to forgive even if you don’t feel like it then work at it until the feelings match the decision (this may take a while, but it’s worth the journey).
  5. Start a journal. Write down all those things you want to say but know that you can’t (or shouldn’t). Something about writing those things out helps to smooth the pain a little bit.
  6. Look for the good, and choose to focus on that. There is generally some good in people who make bad choices and even in people that you can’t stand. What is good about this new person that you don’t like? Do you share any common interests or hobbies? Focus on those things rather than dwelling on the bad things. You don’t have to forget, and you don’t have to be buddy buddy, but choose to focus on the positive things for your own sake.
  7. Avoid conflict. Where possible, try to avoid unnecessary conflict with your parent and with their new partner. Discussion is good because it seeks resolution. Conflict only seeks to impose one another’s views on each other. As much as you might like to, you can’t change your parent and you can’t change your parent’s new partner. You can change how you choose to respond. Respond in such a way that chooses to avoid conflict rather than pouring fuel on the fire.
  8. Guard your heart. It’s easy to take on all of the pain, frustration, hatred and anger your parents are experiencing (or one parent is experiencing) as the result of a separation. You can be there for your parents without taking all of that on yourself. It’s not your responsibility, and frankly it’s not your place. Refuse to be a party to your parents’ conversations if they’re bad-mouthing one another, sharing details that you don’t really want or bad-mouthing your other parent’s new partner. Remind them that they are both your parents and you still love them both.
  9. Finally, remember that just because one person lied to you or violated your trust, it doesn’t mean that all people will. Don’t let your current circumstances color your view of all people. This will be particularly important as you start to develop new relationships and move forward with your life.

Hopefully some of the suggestions above will help. If you have further questions or need more help, please use the ASK US feature of this site to chat with someone who cares about the situation you’re in.

Find answers to other frequently asked questions on our H4HK FAQs Page. 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.

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Wayne Stocks <![CDATA[Anyway]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=3985 2017-11-08T20:08:18Z 2017-11-09T13:00:12Z 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. SUCCEED anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. BE HONEST and SINCERE anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. CREATE anyway. 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. Click here for a larger graphic file. Click here or on the picture above for a printable pdf.

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Anyway

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.
SUCCEED anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
BE HONEST and SINCERE anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
CREATE anyway.
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.

Click here for a larger graphic file. Click here or on the picture above for a printable pdf.

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Linda Ranson Jacobs http://blog.dc4k.org <![CDATA[How Divorce Impacts a Child’s Relationship With God]]> http://hope4hurtingkids.com/?p=2417 2017-10-17T22:05:37Z 2017-11-08T13:00:54Z Over the last several weeks, we laid a foundation for examining how divorce affects the development of children (specifically spiritual development), how kids are wired to connect and recapped some of the impacts of divorce. Today, we are going to look more specifically at how divorce impacts the different areas of a child’s development. Development stops or is hindered at the time of the divorce. Emotional/Social Development Much of the literature and studies surrounding children of divorce focuses on emotional and social impacts of divorce. Often times, this development gets put on hold or gets stuck in anger following the divorce. Many adult children of divorce end up walking around as adults functioning on the equivalent of an eight or nine year old emotional level. Emotions may or may not improve with time, but most adults can fake it enough to survive and get by in an adult world. However, what is going on underneath the skin may be detrimental to their health and well-being as adults. Cognitive Development When parents get divorced, children’s grades slip. Some children may have to repeat a grade. For the most part, children can’t concentrate or focus. As time goes by the cognitive development will begin to get on track. However, the child may be so far behind they will need tutoring or special help to catch up or they may not graduate from high school let alone go to college. As the child grows into their adult years they may begin to learn the concepts needed to survive in a job on their own. Some will excel in a job. However, others will never reach their full potential. Physical development Although it is not spoken of as much as other effects, divorce can actually impact the physical development of kids. When children are under tremendous amounts of stress, skeletal and even muscle development can be slowed down. Over time the physical development will pick up, and they will begin to grow. Mental health professionals say they know when a child is processing their grief because they will witness a growth spurt. I saw one little boy grow three clothes sizes in eight months when he was put in a non-stressful environment. Spiritual Development Spiritual development stops growing in a divorce situation. Many children can’t or won’t trust any parent-like image. They may get angry at God asking, “Why can’t you or why didn’t you stop the divorce?” What’s interesting about the spiritual development though is so many children try to continue their relationship with the church right after the divorce and many try for several years. This could be because church attendance becomes a habit. It’s part of the routine in a child’s life. It might be that church attendance is one thing they feel they can count on to happen. This is where we, as adults, fail the child of divorce. We don’t encourage them or mentor them in their spiritual journey. For the most part, children’s workers don’t track and follow up with a child and the child gets lost in the shuffle when changing classes or programs. One older man in a four-year old Sunday School class had a child whose parents were getting divorced. Right before the end of the year, this little boy shared that his dad had moved out. This little boy was about to move to the five year-old class, and this man had determined that he was going to call the teacher of the five year-old class and share this information with her. This man is unusual because most teachers don’t follow the children forward and consequently when the child misses, no one follows up. So many times the adults in the church fail the child because, over time, they lose interest in the individual child. If the child becomes a discipline problem, the church tends to shy away from that child. The flip side of all of this is that God’s people can play a vital role in the child’s life through encouragement. In my own situation we had adults that assumed the parental role, temporarily, with my children. These adults connected with my children. They worked hard at maintaining a relationship with my children. The other reason children try to maintain their church attendance is because now we know children have a need to believe in God. Everything around them is crumbling and they want to believe that God is real and that He will be there for them. This is especially true for children that have attended church on a regular basis with their families before the divorce. Spiritually many children stop developing after the divorce, never to develop a faith walk or a level of trust that the Lord desires from each of us. Their spiritual development becomes frozen in time. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Several years ago found my husband and I were sitting in court with a father while his wife, the mother of his children, was being arraigned. She was in our DivorceCare (www.divorcecare.org) class, and the father had her arrested for slashing his tires. As we spent the morning together I asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his Savior. He surprised me by saying, “Yes, I was saved when I was 11 years old.” I asked him several more questions to make sure he understood. He did. I believe that he understood and that he was saved. But then he said something that struck a chord with me. He said, “We went to church a lot before I was saved. And then right after I got saved, my parents got a divorce. Within a year we just quit going to church. I know I should go to church now that I’m an adult and a father, but I have never developed the habit of getting up every Sunday. I work hard during the week, and I sleep in on Sunday mornings.” Is this man saved? God is the [...]

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Child’s Relationship With GodOver the last several weeks, we laid a foundation for examining how divorce affects the development of children (specifically spiritual development), how kids are wired to connect and recapped some of the impacts of divorce. Today, we are going to look more specifically at how divorce impacts the different areas of a child’s development.

Development stops or is hindered at the time of the divorce.

Emotional/Social Development

Much of the literature and studies surrounding children of divorce focuses on emotional and social impacts of divorce. Often times, this development gets put on hold or gets stuck in anger following the divorce. Many adult children of divorce end up walking around as adults functioning on the equivalent of an eight or nine year old emotional level. Emotions may or may not improve with time, but most adults can fake it enough to survive and get by in an adult world. However, what is going on underneath the skin may be detrimental to their health and well-being as adults.

Cognitive Development

When parents get divorced, children’s grades slip. Some children may have to repeat a grade. For the most part, children can’t concentrate or focus. As time goes by the cognitive development will begin to get on track. However, the child may be so far behind they will need tutoring or special help to catch up or they may not graduate from high school let alone go to college. As the child grows into their adult years they may begin to learn the concepts needed to survive in a job on their own. Some will excel in a job. However, others will never reach their full potential.

Physical development

Although it is not spoken of as much as other effects, divorce can actually impact the physical development of kids. When children are under tremendous amounts of stress, skeletal and even muscle development can be slowed down. Over time the physical development will pick up, and they will begin to grow. Mental health professionals say they know when a child is processing their grief because they will witness a growth spurt. I saw one little boy grow three clothes sizes in eight months when he was put in a non-stressful environment.

Spiritual Development

Spiritual development stops growing in a divorce situation. Many children can’t or won’t trust any parent-like image. They may get angry at God asking,

“Why can’t you or why didn’t you stop the divorce?”

What’s interesting about the spiritual development though is so many children try to continue their relationship with the church right after the divorce and many try for several years. This could be because church attendance becomes a habit. It’s part of the routine in a child’s life. It might be that church attendance is one thing they feel they can count on to happen.

This is where we, as adults, fail the child of divorce. We don’t encourage them or mentor them in their spiritual journey. For the most part, children’s workers don’t track and follow up with a child and the child gets lost in the shuffle when changing classes or programs.

One older man in a four-year old Sunday School class had a child whose parents were getting divorced. Right before the end of the year, this little boy shared that his dad had moved out. This little boy was about to move to the five year-old class, and this man had determined that he was going to call the teacher of the five year-old class and share this information with her. This man is unusual because most teachers don’t follow the children forward and consequently when the child misses, no one follows up.

So many times the adults in the church fail the child because, over time, they lose interest in the individual child. If the child becomes a discipline problem, the church tends to shy away from that child.

The flip side of all of this is that God’s people can play a vital role in the child’s life through encouragement. In my own situation we had adults that assumed the parental role, temporarily, with my children. These adults connected with my children. They worked hard at maintaining a relationship with my children.

The other reason children try to maintain their church attendance is because now we know children have a need to believe in God. Everything around them is crumbling and they want to believe that God is real and that He will be there for them. This is especially true for children that have attended church on a regular basis with their families before the divorce.

Spiritually many children stop developing after the divorce, never to develop a faith walk or a level of trust that the Lord desires from each of us. Their spiritual development becomes frozen in time. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

Several years ago found my husband and I were sitting in court with a father while his wife, the mother of his children, was being arraigned. She was in our DivorceCare (www.divorcecare.org) class, and the father had her arrested for slashing his tires.

As we spent the morning together I asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his Savior. He surprised me by saying,

“Yes, I was saved when I was 11 years old.”

I asked him several more questions to make sure he understood. He did. I believe that he understood and that he was saved. But then he said something that struck a chord with me. He said,

“We went to church a lot before I was saved. And then right after I got saved, my parents got a divorce. Within a year we just quit going to church. I know I should go to church now that I’m an adult and a father, but I have never developed the habit of getting up every Sunday. I work hard during the week, and I sleep in on Sunday mornings.”

Is this man saved? God is the only one that knows that for sure. Does he have a faith walk? I don’t believe that he knows what a faith walk is. His spiritual development is frozen in time. Spiritually he is still a new Christian on an 11 year-old boy level. He only knows the Bible stories from his youth. He only knows God from the memory of his youth.

Some children do turn to God. They replace the earthly parent that left with the image of God taking that role. I encouraged this concept in my own family. The first Easter after my divorce, my children and I were driving into the church parking lot when we noticed a friend in the church had set up a camera and was taking pictures. As we got out of the car Rodger said,

“Hey Julie and Brian bring your mom over and let’s take a family picture.”

My daughter screamed out,

“Don’t you know we don’t have a family? My Dad left.”

She took off running into the sanctuary.

My son was a little quieter but his comments were just as severe. Very quietly while gritting his teeth he said,

“We don’t have a dad anymore. He left! We don’t have a family.”

And he walked off with his shoulders slumped and his head down.

After church I sat the kids down and told them we still had a family. My son said,

“Mom, look around. In case you haven’t noticed Dad left. There is no dad in this house.”

I explained that we still had a family; it was just a different kind of family. I told them that God would become the other parent in our home, that He was our heavenly Father. My son went on to say that while that was great,

“I need a dad I can talk to and one that talks back to me. I need someone with skin on them.”

This was a perfect opportunity to talk about how we talk to God and how and when God talks back to us. Today my son has a deep faith walk. God is important in his life.

What Happens to the Relationship With God, the Heavenly Father?

These children of divorce that are now adults are speaking out. Judith Wallerstein’s The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce the 25 Year Landmark Study followed a group of children of divorce for 25 years to record their experiences and development. You will find in that book that, for the most part, these children’s view of marriage is skewed. The ability to commit to a relationship is shaky.

With the breakdown of the family unit and the inability to understand what a marriage is all about, some of these adults are left unable to comprehend Christ sacrifice for them. If they didn’t experience salvation as children, it will be difficult for them to accept salvation as adults. If their parent left them; if their parent put their own needs over the child’s, they may wonder how anyone could love them enough to lay down His life for them.

Think about this, our earthly marriages are to be a metaphor for Christ’s love for His bride ¬– the church. Marriage and family are earthly representations of God’s design. God is the heavenly Father. Christ is His son. Jesus comes for his bride – the church. We can only understand this if we can think in abstract terms and understand the symbolism used in the Bible. We have to be able to comprehend and interpret scripture, the parables, and accept the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If a person is still on a child’s level in their spiritual development, they will not be able to comprehend this beautiful picture.

We now have several reports and books written by adult children who experienced their parent’s divorce. A very strong report was written by Elizabeth Marquardt, a scholar with the Institute for American Values, a think tank on family issues. She also served as the director of the Children of Divorce Project. In the first part of the project, 60 interviews were conducted with adults, half of whom grew up in divorced families and half of whom grew up in intact families. This was followed up by a survey of some fifteen hundred-telephone interviews. Elizabeth has included her research in her book, Between Two Worlds, The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce.

Elizabeth herself is a product of a divorced family. She believes that even under the best circumstances children of divorce will suffer emotional scars and their relationships will suffer including their relationship with God.

In conversations with Elizabeth she has relayed that one of the biggest issues she sees is the symbol of “God being a Father image?” and trust issues, “my own parent abandoned me and now you want me to believe in God, a heavenly Father image?”

She also says we have to be careful as a church body about how we approach some of these kids. We have to watch for defensiveness. If you say to a child that does have a good relationship with both parents, “you’re Dad disappointed you or hurt you, left you,” etc. they will get defensive. To them they have a relationship. It might not be a good relationship, but it’s the only relationship they have known. A child will almost always protect their parent.

Most people at some point in their lives struggle with the question of:

“Is God real?”

The difference in the child of divorce is that they have to face this issue earlier than most people. Elizabeth says to tell the children this fact.

“Most people struggle with the realness of God but you are having to try and understand this earlier than others.”

She says to try and say to the child,

“When you are alone and can’t turn to your parent (for whatever reason) that God is always with you ¬– God can be there for you.”

Also let the child know that they can come to you and talk with you about these types of things.

Jen Abbas is another adult that experienced her parent’s divorce. Jen has written the book, “Generation EX.” In her book she talks about the confusion children experience with the concept of love and how a child may feel like their needs were secondary to their own parent’s desires. Now when they become adults they are told God loves them like a Father? Hmmm how much could that be if, as a child, their needs were secondary?

In a section in her book Jen writes:

“As children of divorce, our initial understanding of our heavenly Father reflects the relationship we had (or didn’t have) with our earthly dads. If the father we can see taught us by his choices that love is fickle, security is temporary and faithfulness is fleeting, it requires quite a leap of faith to believe that a heavenly Father exists whose love is unconditional, whose security is eternal and whose faithfulness is unfailing.”

Adult children of divorce for the most part do not attend religious services. Many feel like the church abandoned them when their parents divorced.

When adults hear the words, “Heavenly Father,” scenes of desertion and loss come to their minds. They don’t think of God as a Father image. One lady said

“Just hearing, ‘Our Father’ would make a knot tighten up in my stomach.”

Other children feel unworthy of God’s love. They feel unworthy to take their problems to such a God. They feel unlovable because they perceived that their parents didn’t love them, they don’t feel a God can love them either.

From an 11 year old in the book Growing Up Divorced by Archibald Hart we read,

“I wonder if God is like my dad. Does he say he loves you and then throws you away? Does he say he will come and visit you and then never come?”

Regarding trust Issues, children ask:

Is God like a Father? Because, if He is, I don’t want to have anything to do with Him.

Regarding faith Issues:

I had faith that my parents would provide for me and look what happened and now you want me to have faith in ‘God’?

Bible Stories Can Be Meaningless

Partly because of the trust issues, the faith issues, their concern with safety and the unhealthy image of a parent, typical Bible stories are often meaningless to the child of divorce. When you think about the Bible stories we tell children most of them are really very scary.

Children in the Bible are left in a well, floated down a river in a basket, sold into slavery to pay their parents debts and even left behind while the family traveled. Children of divorce worry about these very things in their everyday life. They have concerns about who is going to take care of them. Are they going to have enough to eat? Will the parent they live with leave them and desert them like the other parent that left the home. It is their perception of things.

Even the story of Jesus being left at the tabernacle takes on a different meaning for the child of divorce. When a child in a two-parent family hears the story of Jesus being left behind when he was 12, they relate by thinking Mary and Joseph, the mother and father will look for Jesus. When they can’t find him with his friends, they will go back to the town they had stayed at and look for him.

They may even discuss the story with their parents for reassurance that something like that won’t happen to them. The child of divorce already worries that they will be left somewhere. They have no assurance that mother and father will come together to look for them. Many times they won’t or don’t talk to their parent about something like this. They let their imaginations run away.

Children’s church workers need to be made aware of these issues. Special attention needs to be given to the child of divorce. It may be that an adult might need to take the child aside and reassure them. Or give the child an opportunity to discuss their fears and concerns about a particular lesson. If the child attends the church alone, chances are they will not approach the absent parent with questions or concerns about what they are learning. If your teachers don’t take additional time and give extra attention to these children then, you will be sending them home in a state of confusion.

You will be failing this child because confusion already reigns in their lives. You also have to remember that many of these children will have parents that are not living a moral life. They come to church and we tell them to live a Christ like life but their parent, by their actions, may be telling them something different.

Next week we will examine what the church can do and why it is essential that we do something for children of divorce!

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 November 25, 2011.

The post How Divorce Impacts a Child’s Relationship With God appeared first on Hope 4 Hurting Kids.

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