Got kids in trauma? Got adults with disorders? Might be a connection




In a post last week about, trauma-informed churches, I referenced a study that has tremendous implications for people working with children and adults who experienced early adverse childhood experiences.

The Ministry Best Practices website has an incredible article on “Adult disorders linked to trauma” and refers to an infographic with the article “The Impact of Childhood Trauma on Adult Disorders.” This infographic would be great to hang in children’s minister’s offices as a constant reminder of what will happen to many children in our churches if we don’t minister to them now and keep them exposed to biblical concepts and teachings.

The infographic, like the studies mentioned in the “Trauma-Informed Churches” post, talks about children who experienced parental absence due to separation or divorce as an event that continues to affect them as adults.

Did you know that kids feel …?

  • Worthless: Many of the children we work with in DC4K feel worthless. They will tell you they feel empty and useless, like trash.
  • Endangered and unsafe: Many don’t feel safe and feel constant infringement of their safety or well-being. While they can’t always put these feelings into words, they will say, “I just don’t feel safe.” It’s a gut reaction to one of their parents leaving. At eight years of age, my own son kept saying he was worried someone was going to break into the house after his dad left.
  • Sad, confused, and, for some, very angry

Did you know what happens these children as they become adults?

To the brain:

  • The brain is rewired.
  • The more crisis and trauma a child experiences, the more the brain is affected.
  • Trauma can damage the ability to manage stress.
  • The brain appears to be smaller in some young children in highly stressful situations.

To their health:

  • Adult onset of ADHD, depression, and suicidal tendencies.
  • Women are 27% more like to become obese.
  • Men are 66% more likely to become obese.
  • Onset of adult health issues, such as asthma and heart conditions.
  • Adult eating disorders.
  • Adult substance abuse.

To their connection to God:

  • They walk away from church.
  • They say they feel spiritual but not religious.
  • Some are angry at the church because they feel the church family shunned them as children.
  • Other adults are angry at God because He didn’t force their parents to reconcile.
  • Many adult children of divorce are stuck in a time warp in their faith walk—where they were when their parents split.

You see, there are even more reasons to work with the children of divorce within the church. They need us now, and our future generations need us.

I know some kids who came to DC4K when it first came out ten years ago. I have kept track of them, and they are not experiencing as many of these adverse effects as one might expect.

I believe it is because we address

  • Children’s basic need for love and acceptance
  • Safety issues
  • Support through relationship building
  • How to label feelings: If you can’t label a feeling, you can’t tame it either. When children learn how to put a name to a feeling, they learn how to address the problems that come with feeling that emotion.
  • Anger management and appropriate ways to deal with it

We do much more, but do you see how just these few things might help someone who is a child today become a better adult tomorrow?

Pass this on to your minister. Perhaps it will help him have more understanding and empathy when an adult comes to him with many of the adult problems we have in our world today.


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on September 24, 2014.

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One thought on “Got kids in trauma? Got adults with disorders? Might be a connection

  1. Pingback: Trauma-Informed Churches - CM Conference Notes | Children's Ministry Blog

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