Question of the week: How do I greet the child of divorce after a long absence?


From a children’s minister friend: “I have several children who have been gone most of the summer. I suspect they went to the other parent’s home or to visit extended family out of town. These are kids we don’t really know much about. They just started attending our church last spring. When we’ve called or tried to contact the single parent this summer we get no response. She doesn’t return calls, texts or emails.

“I’m afraid to question them for fear of bringing up memories that will make them sad they are not with the other parent. I also don’t want to offend the single parent who does bring them to our children’s classes. On the other hand I think in order to connect with these kids on a deeper level and build a relationship I need to be inquisitive about their life this summer.”

This children’s minister brings up some very valid points. It may seem like a delicate balance when ministering to the child who has been absent all summer. It is a high probability that these children have been visiting the other parent for the summer.

  1. The number one point to remember is the child wants your attention
  2. The child more than likely wants to talk about their summer so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here are examples of conversation starters.
  • Hey we missed you this summer. Where have you been?
  • What did you do at your dad’s this summer?
  • When you went camping (or whatever the child has told you she did) what did you do? Did you cook your own food? Catch any fish?
  • What did you and your mom do this summer?
  • What did you like best about staying with your grandmother?
  1. Tell the child about your summer and what you and your children did. Part of having a relationship is getting to know each other on a deeper level.
  2. If you notice the child seems to be sad and missing the other parent, help them explore those feelings. Many kids of divorce stuff their feelings in front of their single parent because they don’t want to hurt the parent’s feelings.
  3. Every week for the next several weeks have a scripture specifically for them. Put it on a post it note or text it to them or even purchase a small notebook for them to write their scripture in to take home. Encourage them to read the scripture each morning.
  4. Pray with and for the child as they acclimate back into your church family. Remember they may have been in a totally different culture over the summer and it may take time to get adjusted back into the Christian world.

If your church hosts DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) encourage the child and single parent to get this child registered. If your church doesn’t host DC4K go to the DC4K Find-a-Group search engine. Put in your zip code and do a search of your area to find churches that host DC4K.


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on 8/18/2014.

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