Question of the week: What should I say when a kid says something about court, custody or divorcing parents?


24534059 - daddy talking to his son about serious things

Recently a children’s leader said she has a boy that is disruptive and doesn’t pay attention. In one of the smaller groups last Sunday she overheard him say something about “court”. She said,

I don’t know if I should say something to him or ask him any questions. I  don’t know anything about his family. Someone drops him off and they don’t  check him in. Someone different picks him up. I’m not sure how to  address this situation. I don’t want to embarrass him or stir up any problems. I don’t want to offend the people who drop him off. I just don’t know my boundaries with this child and his family life.

Often I have children’s leaders tell me they don’t want the parent or parents to think they are prying into family business. It’s not prying when you give hurting children a chance to share from their hearts. It is critical, though, that you keep whatever the child says to you confidential and only share with other people who might be ministering to the child or with your church ministers and leaders. And only then share if it helps the child.

Children of divorce many times need a safe place to unload and share their burdens. They need a comfortable place to simply share about life in the other home. Most kids don’t talk to their parents about what goes on in the other home. Some have said it seems like a betrayal to share with one parent about the other parent. And yet, these kids need to vent and talk about their lives. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions. And don’t appear to be shocked by anything they say.

Here are some examples of conversation starters and or questions to ask:

  • How was your weekend at your dads (or moms) last weekend?
  • What did you and your mom do on vacation?
  • Where will you be on Christmas Day (or any holiday even Valentine, Halloween, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.)
  • How was it spending last weekend with your dad and your new stepsisters?
  • So your mom is getting married. What do you think about that?
  • Who lives in your house?
  • Who brings you to church?
  • When do you get to see your dad’s parents and your cousins?
  • You know that this is a safe place where you can talk. I’m the safekeeper and what you say is confidential. That means I won’t tell other people what you share with me.
  • I heard you say something about court the other day. Have you ever been to court? What happened in court?

Ask the child of divorce anything you would ask any other kid in your group. Be matter of fact and nonchalant talking about the other home. Take your cue from the child. If you ask a question and they seem to clam up, then back off and let the child come to you on his terms.  Listen with your eyes – in other words keep an eye on the child and be cognizant of when he is indicating he wants to share.

Some children will do better when their hands are busy such as coloring, or working on an art project. Other children will do best when they are eating a snack and relaxing at a table with only a few children in their midst.

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your conversations. Be honest and upfront with these children. You will be deepening a much-needed relationship with the child of divorce and with the child who just happens to mention court.


DC4K blogs posts are great to use in training children’s leaders and volunteers and they are free.  Subscribe to the DC4K blog here.

Want to learn more about how to start a DivorceCare for Kids group for the hurting children in your community? Click here.

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2 thoughts on “Question of the week: What should I say when a kid says something about court, custody or divorcing parents?

  1. You know that this is a safe place where you can talk. I’m the safekeeper and what you say is between you and I and NOBODY else will know what we talk about. Its confidential.
    Different wording..same message..I’ve used this and it works with kids..

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