Kids in trauma and heart-felt connections


Clingy Child

Have you ever had a child who has experienced a crisis or trauma get attached to you? I’ve had children who I knew were connected to me emotionally. However, I had no idea of the depth of these connections.

For the child of divorce and other life-changing traumas, it is a different kind of connection. They become attached not only to you but also to their memory of you. You might call it a heart-felt connection. And they hold on to this memory for years.

In their minds they know where they can find you, and while you might not see them for years, they know you are there for them in that heart-felt connection.

When these children move on to another church or they outgrow your group, in their minds they stay connected to you. You might not realize the importance of this deep connection.

I learned about this phenomenon years ago. Back in the late sixties I worked for the San Diego School system. I taught music classes and also worked in their after-school program. We had an older school-aged child who lived with her dad. After sixth grade we never saw her again.

Several years later the after-school program moved to a different location. The last day of the move my mentor, Kitty Boggionni, was making one last sweep through the buildings to make sure everything had been moved. She said as she approached one building she heard someone crying, and as she rounded the corner she saw a young college-age woman sitting on the steps weeping.

As she walked closer, the young woman jumped up and said, “Oh Mrs. Boggionni, it’s you. I thought I had lost you. When I drove by and saw they were moving everything, I didn’t know what to do. I have been so upset for days. Every time I drive by this place I think about you, and I always know if I needed you, you’d be here.”

It seems as though for the past six years this young woman felt a deep connection to the building and to Mrs. Boggionni, the main player in her life when she was in elementary school. This young woman’s mother had abandoned her when she was very young and unbeknown to any of us, she attached herself to Mrs. Boggionni.

This same thing happened to me when I moved from Oklahoma to North Carolina. The word got out in the community that I was moving, and one afternoon a young woman I hadn’t seen in several years walked right up to me and hugged me. She started crying and said, “I can’t believe you are leaving me.”

I said, “But Jena, I haven’t seen you in at least two years.” To which she replied, “But I always knew you were here, and if I ever needed you, I knew where to find you. Now you are moving away and you are leaving me.”

I had been there for her when her mom and dad had divorced. The only conclusion I can come to is that when you are there for these kids at the most traumatic time in their lives, they connect with you on such a deep level that the memory of that connection lives on inside them.

Now with Facebook and other social media, people can stay connected much easier. I have kids of divorce find me all the time on Facebook. They want to stay connected. They just need to know that I’m here for them. These are heart-felt connections and they go deep.

When was the last time you made a heart-felt connection with a child of divorce?


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on October 15, 2014.

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3 thoughts on “Kids in trauma and heart-felt connections

  1. That brought tears to my eyes. We have some awesome kids in our DC4K group in Calgary at FAC. I would hope too that they would stay in touch if they needed to talk.

    • Thanks Deborah for your heart-felt compassion. I too hope your DC4K kids will feel stay in touch. It is truly rewarding to have them contact you years later.

  2. I can feel this happening in myself! My favourite teacher (and our school Bible study leader) is moving internationally at the end of the year and I can’t believe I won’t be able to see her anymore! She has been such a huge support in my journey through my parent’s divorce and maintaining my identity as a Christian. She has been there for me through thick and thin and I can’t imagine not being able to talk to her if I need to.

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