Spring Break and Visitation – How Does That Work for Children of Divorce?
In my area of the country, it is officially spring break time. By that, I mean all the college kids are coming to our area to enjoy the beaches and … well you know the rest … to party. In the news media when you hear about spring break, they are usually referring to college kids getting away or families taking a week off to enjoy some family time and a vacation. What about the kids of divorce though? What does spring break mean for them? When do they get to party and have a good time?
Sometimes spring break can mean heartache.
My mom is supposed to have me for spring break, but she said I couldn’t come to her house because she is taking a vacation with her boyfriend and his kids.
Sometimes it can mean confusion.
I don’t understand what is happening next week! Dad says I’m going to stay at grandmas for 3 days and then come to his house or I’m staying with him on Monday and Tuesday and then going to grandma’s house? Whatever! I just want to know where I’ll be sleeping every night.
Sometimes it can mean loneliness.
Well, next week is spring break. All my friends at church are talking about all the stuff their families are going to do. My mom has to work every day because she can’t afford to take time off. That means she will be leaving everyday about 6:30 in the morning and she won’t get home until after 6:30 in the evening. That means I will be alone for twelve hours every single day. Ugh! What am I going to do for 12 hours every day?
Sometimes it can mean a surprise.
Last year my dad drove all the way from Phoenix to Oklahoma to see us on spring break. He didn’t tell us he was coming, and he showed up at our latchkey program in a bunny costume. It was so funny! I couldn’t figure out what all the kids were laughing about, and I turned around and there was this huge bunny walking toward me. We had the best time! We stayed in a hotel with him the entire week, and we had so much fun. I wonder what surprise he will have in store for us this year.
What about the children in your church who live in a single parent family? Do you know what their spring break will be like? Take some time this Sunday to ask questions. Find out if there is a lonely kid whose mom is going to be working all week. Perhaps you could find someone in his Sunday School group who could invite him over for a day or two just to break up his long lonely week.
Whatever the situation is, see if there isn’t something you or a church member could do to help the child of divorce. Remember to ask questions next week if the child misses this week. If they have something to celebrate, like a giant Easter bunny showing up at latchkey, celebrate with them, and let them know you care. Don’t forget they may be a little sad when that far away parent has to leave town. They might need an extra hug or just a little more personal attention for a day or so.
Remember the kids who must travel and fly alone to visit the other parent. Perhaps you can send a small journaling book with them or some word searches, games or Bible stories for them to do on that long plane ride. Pray for their safety before they leave town and welcome them with open arms when they return.
While spring break is fun for most children and families, keep in mind that not all families and every child will get to celebrate this season.
This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids on March 14, 2014.