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5 Misperceptions About Children of Divorce and Their Families

 
 

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In order to minister to children of divorce, we have to understand them. Unfortunately, many people who minister to these children and teenagers hold some common misperceptions about children of divorce and their families. They might not realize the extent to which these children are hurting.

The following are five misperceptions people have shared with me about children of divorce and their families:

  1. “These kids are acting up to get attention.”
    My answer to this statement is simple,

“Yes they are, so give them the attention they need.”

Give them tender and loving attention. Many of these children haven’t experience tenderness from an important person in their life in a long time.

  1. “’Those kids are discipline problems. All they need is a firm hand!”

Many times “those kids” are not acting out, but they are merely reacting to the situation they are experiencing. They need boundaries and they need someone who can be supportive and encouraging to them.

Not all children of divorce are discipline problems. Some are sad and depressed. While others can hold it together at church and at school, they fall apart at home, with the babysitter, or at childcare.

The stress of having two homes and two parents in different places can just be too much for some children.

  1. “They should be over all that divorce stuff by now. It’s been a whole year for goodness’ sake.”

A year is a drop in the bucket for most kids. Research by Judith Wallerstein (who was the principal investigator of the 25-year Children of Divorce Project) says that it is not unusual for it to take ten years for children to process their parents’ divorce. Of course there are a lot of variables, but it does take children a long time to grieve the death of their once-intact family.

If a child’s parent died, most people wouldn’t expect them to be completely over the parent’s death in a year, but many people expect the child of divorce to move on quickly.

  1. “So what, his parents’ are divorced. It is so common now, there’s no need to do anything special for that child.”

While most adults realize divorce or the breakup of cohabiting parents is “normal” in our world today, most children think their parents are the only ones separating. Many kids can’t believe there are other children like them.

In a DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) group in NC I had twelve children of divorce in my group. One little second-grade boy sent me a note saying,

“I thought you said this was a class for kids who had divorced parents. How come I’m the only kid in here with divorced parents?”

He didn’t realize there were 11 other children with divorced parents.

Kids of divorcing parents do need special attention.

  1. “Those single parents need to get it together. Their kids are suffering and they don’t even know it.”

Many single parents who are in the beginning stages of divorce may be too overwhelmed to notice how much their children are hurting. Some are battling depression and trying to cope with the thought of parenting alone. While other single parents have been divorced for a couple of years or more and may still be struggling with high stress levels. Some may be aware their children are suffering, but they are clueless about how to help them.

The church and the Lord’s people can negate these misperceptions by loving these children of divorce and praying for them and their parents. They can educate the people in their congregations about the struggles a child of divorce faces on a daily basis. Included in “children of divorce” are teenagers too so don’t forget to educate youth leaders and teachers about how divorce affects the teens.

 

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