This series is co-written by Linda Ranson Jacobs and Wayne Stocks. Linda has drawn on her years of experience working with children of divorce in a childcare setting, in churches and in developing the Divorce Care for Kids (“DC4K”) curriculum for churches to identify and explain some major issues when it comes to ministering to children of divorce and to explain how those issues were addressed in the DC4K curriculum. Wayne has drawn on his years volunteering in children’s ministry and his work with children of divorce to provide some practical advice on how these issues can be addressed in a weekly children’s ministry environment. Together, we hope that this series will help children’s ministry workers better minister to children of divorce and help those who volunteer in divorce ministries like DC4K to better anticipate and deal with issues unique to children of divorce.
Many children of divorce exhibit behavior issues. As you have learned from reading other articles here on DivorceMinistry4Kids you know these children live stress-filled chaotic lives. Oftentimes, they are overcome with anger and confusion and guilt. They are confused, scared, depressed and angry children. In many circumstances these underlying feelings manifest themselves in acting out. They act out their feelings through their behavior. Researchers are now realizing that family crisis and trauma can lead to disruptive behaviors in kids. (If you want to learn more learn more about this subject read, “Are these sings of mental illness in kids? Or normal response to childhood trauma? http://acestoohigh.com/2012/08/30/are-these-signs-of-mental-illness-in-kids-or-normal-responses-to-childhood-trauma/)
In traditional children’s ministry, many leaders have been taught that when a child has disruptive behaviors in class, that the right thing to do is take them to their parents. Alternatively, when the child’s parents come to pick their child up after service, we pull them aside and talk privately with the parents about the behavior issue. We do this in love and respect for the family, and we usually try to partner with the parents in helping their child to overcome those issues. We might ask the parent about what is going on in the child’s life and if there are any new issues we should be aware to help us better provide for their child. In other words, communication with the parents is paramount in helping their children in our church classes. This approach is rooted in the idea that parents are meant to be the primary spiritual nurturers of their children, and our role as children’s ministers is to come alongside them and assist in that role.