A result of the “Where Did He Go?” article in K magazine


Mom Left Dad

Before the article, “Where Did He Go?” was published in the latest “K”Magazine, a children’s minister contacted Tina Houser, the editor of “K” Magazine. This children’s pastor needed some information on helping a three-year old little boy. Following is some of our conversation. I think you will appreciate this children’s pastor’s story.

Children’s Pastor’s request

I am a children’s pastor and I am experiencing, for the first time ever, the task of leading a child whose parents recently separated. It’s a completely new thing for me. I look forward to reading your blog posts/articles/thoughts.

In this situation, the little boy is three and it is mom who left. He is being brought to church by his dad and grandmother. I’ve tried connecting with the mom, but she doesn’t really know me that well (they haven’t been coming to my church long), and she just doesn’t seem to want to talk.

This past Sunday, the boy wouldn’t let dad leave him in toddler church, even though he’s been fine being in there up to this point. I’m planning to talk to dad either tonight if he’s there or Sunday morning to try to get a game plan together so his son will feel safe and want to stay in toddler church and get dad OUT of my toddler room and back into church.

Tina sent me your upcoming article for “K” Magazine, and I’m planning to have him try the keys idea you suggested. That sounds like a GREAT plan to help him feel safe and know dad is coming back

I sent my new friend the following message.

If I didn’t say it tell the dad that for him to linger it says to the three year old that there really is something to be scared of. You know anxiety separation isn’t unusual for toddlers and being three isn’t that far from toddlerhood. It is very normal for the child of divorce to be scared to let dad leave. He may wonder if dad will disappear like the mom.

Children’s Pastor’s response

So I talked to the dad this morning and we agreed on a plan to leave him quickly and leave his son with his car keys. The dad did a great job telling the 3 year old what he was doing with the keys, how he wanted him to hold onto them until he came back, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada.

It was great, until the boy realized his dad and grandma were leaving him with me. Then he went to bawling! (Thankfully it wasn’t screaming like last week!) He cried and cried and didn’t want anything to do with holding any keys. He just wanted his dad and his mimi back.

So for the first 10-15 min., I was holding him thinking, “This is NOT working! Maybe it works on other kids, but apparently not on this three year old!” But I kept holding him and talking to him. And eventually, he saw a puzzle that the other toddlers had already played with and he decided he thought he could do that puzzle.

I got him set up, and he put that 5-piece puzzle together probably 10 times. He finally calmed down, and he told me, “I’m not crying anymore.” I told him what a big boy he was and reminded him to hang on to those keys because daddy was coming back for him.

We talked about which keys went to what things – truck, house. And about half way through toddler church, I heard him tell one of the other kids, “I have my daddy’s keys, because he’s coming back to get me.” And shortly after that, he decided he wanted a chair at the table with the other kids so he could have a snack with them and play a game. TOUCHDOWN! Woohoo!!

Just had to share my morning with you. That is the first time I’ve ever dealt with that, and I don’t think I would have handled it nearly as smoothly without your advice. Thank you! My toddler teacher told me after class what a great idea I had about the keys! I very quickly told her, “Oh that was totally not me! I had a lot of help on that!” Thank you for helping!

Here is a follow up email from the children’s pastor a few weeks later

Hi Linda! I have actually been meaning to message you and give you an update on that story. It’s been several weeks since we first tried your idea. Every week, this little boy has come to class holding his dad’s keys, and each week got a little better.

This past week, he walked right into class with NO KEYS, a smile on his face, and talking, talking, talking my ears off. He didn’t show any negative emotion whatsoever when his dad left. When I talked to my toddler workers later that day, one of them told me how great he was doing and how she was so amazed at how well that technique had worked!

It’s nice to have a “win” every now and then! Thanks for sharing that story. I hope it will encourage someone else dealing with the same thing.


We all love to hear about a success story when it come to hurting children. What have you done to help a preschool age child separate from the newly divorced parent?

2 thoughts on “A result of the “Where Did He Go?” article in K magazine

  1. I’m the dad and let me tell you thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I’m working real hard to keep him involved in the Lord and every little thing helps thank you.

    • Thank you Jeffery for speaking out. I admire you and so much appreciate your willingness to be open with us. Sounds like you are on the right track by wanting to do everything your children’s minister suggests. Again, thank you for allowing us to share your story. Blessings, Linda

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