How puppies can help you understand little kids in divorced homes



About three years ago, we got a cute, little puppy. She was from a rescue organization, and she was not quite twelve weeks when we brought her home. She was a just a little mutt but still cute nonetheless.

She was all white, fluffy, and just the sweetest, little thing. Oh, how I fell in love with her. She wasn’t without trials, though—kind of like little kids. When we brought her home, I had forgotten what it takes to train a new puppy and how much attention she required.

Having this new little puppy in our home got me to thinking about single parents who don’t realize how much attention little children require. These single parents might not have been actively involved with their children when married.

  • If the parents did not spend a lot of time with their children when they had a spouse, they will struggle to know what to do with the kids when they are alone with the children.
  • If they were the parents too busy to notice the kids when there was a two-parent home, they will be too busy to notice the kids in the one-parent home.
  • If they were always on the computer or texting someone before, then they will do the same when the kids come to spend time with them.
  • If they didn’t have relationships with the kids when they were married to the children’s other parent, they better start figuring out how to do it now.

Here are a few things children need when living in a single-parent home.

Kids need attention

Just like little puppies, children thrive on attention. Children need attention from both parents. They need attention from each parent separately when the parents do not live together. If they don’t get the attention they need from their parents, they will find it from another person or group.

God designed us to be in families. When adults disappoint children or don’t have time for their children, kids will form makeshift families. Some fortunate kids will attach themselves to a friend’s family. Other kids may create a family through becoming involved in gang activities or groups of kids with no adult interactions. But somehow, a child will find a family.

Kids need to talk

My kids are grown now, but I cherish the memories of the times they required my attention. When my kids were teens, it seemed like they wanted to talk all the time. From the moment I walked in the door to our home, one of them was talking.

At times, I tried to escape just for a few moments of quiet. My escape place was the bathroom, but they would come looking for me. Sometimes, my son would talk under the crack in the door, or they would slip a note under the door.

Oh, a quiet, stress-free bath was out of the question. More than once, I had to yank the shower curtain across the tub as one rushed up the stairs to share some important bit of news. Now, I’m glad they trusted me enough to want to share their lives with me. I shudder to think what would have happened to my kids if I hadn’t been there for them. So if kids want to talk and share, count it as a privilege.

Kids need love and respect

One thing about puppies: if you treat them right, they will be your best friend for life. They will love you unconditionally for the rest of their lives. It is the same with children. If you show kids respect, love, and honor, you will have a good relationship with them for the rest of your life.

When my kids were younger, I had a cockapoo (a mix of a cocker spaniel and a poodle) that lived to be fourteen years old. We got her when she was just a little puppy. My husband moved out right after we got this little puppy. My kids became attached to that puppy. They seemed to pour out the love they had for their missing dad on her. She reciprocated, and she saw my children through the divorce and stuck by them for years.

That little dog just seemed to know when my kids needed extra attention. When my son would return from his father’s house, she would run up to him and greet him like he had been gone for years. He would pick her up, cuddle her, and say to her all the things I think he wished his dad would say to him.

Kids need family

If you know a single parent or are a single parent, realize that children need family. Children want to belong to a family. Children deserve to be in a family. One of the best families, outside the birth family, is the church family.

Just as church gatherings and church family were important in the New Testament, church family is important today. Single parents and their children need to belong to the church family.

Want to know what your church should be doing to attract single parents and kids to your church? Maybe you should try hanging out with cute, little puppies!

What Sugar looked like when we brought her home. The picture at the top is what she looks like now. 



This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on July 21, 2015.

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