Question of the week: How can I, who know nothing about divorce, help a child in our church whose parent’s marriage is on the rocks?


The following is from a children’s minister

“There is a 4th grader in my ministry whose parents are on the verge of divorce. Things seem to have improved for now as they are seeking counseling. I have no point of reference for ministering to her, at least as it specifically relates to this situation.

I identified that there was something going on with this girl long before we knew that her parents were near divorce. I could sense that she was guarded. My wife works at her school and has managed to connect with her.

I truly believe this is part of why God sent us here when He did. I have no problem being available to this girl or being a support for her. My wife is the same. But, I don’t want to miss an opportunity to support this girl because of a lack of knowledge.

So, I would love your thoughts on how my wife and I can best minister to this girl.” (Matt Norman)

Matt is a wise children’s minister to realize he doesn’t have a point of reference regarding divorce. In other words he wasn’t raised in a divorced home. Him and his wife are happily married. He has no personal experience with divorce.

My response

God has already prepared your heart because He allowed you to be aware that something was going on before you ever found out her parent’s were struggling. Through this child the Lord can acquaint you and give you that point of reference to minister to other hurting children.

Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Even though you might not have a point of reference you can learn through connecting with this child.

You may wish to read my book “Attract Families to Your Church and Keep Them Coming Back.” Also, as you read this blog and other resources about children and divorce, you’ll realize you probably have more understanding than you realize.

What you and your leaders can do

  • Listen to this child.
  • Listen for clues as to what is happening in her life.
  • Sometimes kids don’t speak “reality” simply because don’t have a point of reference either.
  • Most children experiencing their parent’s marriage crisis have not seen divorce first-hand, so they have no perspective.
  • They can understand fighting, stress and anxiety– but don’t comprehend the profound issues related to divorce.
  • They may mask what is happening in their home, but you can hear it through their tone of voice and the stories they tell. And many times you’ll see it in their challenging behaviors.
  • Give her an opportunity to tell her story.
  • Provide children in her class journaling books. Encourage the 4th grade girl to journal her thoughts. By providing journaling books for the entire class you won’t be signaling her out. Tell the kids they can write or draw pictures in their journal.
  • Tell the children to feel free to bring their journaling books and share their stories with you or with one of their teachers but explain they don’t have to do this.
  • Provide a scripture each week for the kids to post in their journal. (You might show them how to do this by posting the date and the scripture on the first page of their journal before you hand them out.)
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to this girl. Ask her how things are going at home. Ask her how her mom is and how her dad is. Sometimes kids don’t talk simply because no one has asked them.

Matt said he probably wouldn’t have asked or talked to this child for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Many of us fall into this category but when we don’t ask or talk to the child we make them feel isolated. This leaves them struggling alone.

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