What adult children of divorce want church leaders to know


Kids of Divorce

After interviewing adult children of divorce I’ve learned they really want support and understanding in their church today. Even though many may have dropped out of church as a child, they know they want a relationship with Christ. Many of them want to serve in the church or in the least attend on a regular basis.

Here are just a few of the things adult children of divorce have said they’d like church leadership and pastors to know. 

  • If a minister is going to help me, I want them to have experienced divorce in some way, either as a child, an adult or walked through it with a close friend. I don’t think they can help me if they don’t understand where I’m coming from. Or find someone that has been there and encourage him or her to walk with me. It’s the perception thing.
  • Help me understand the scriptures and the Bible stories when I can’t relate to a Heavenly God as a parent because my parent left me.
  • Change your approach to some stories, studies, prayers and activities to include and accommodate the child of divorce. As a teen, I always felt left out when the sermons on families only talked about two-parent families. I lived in a Christian single parent family but was made to feel I didn’t have a family.
  • How can adults that have had a parent desert them understand John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Explain that to me in terms I can understand.

Adult children of divorce had spouses that chimed in also. Several have said their marriage might not have been so shaky at the beginning if someone had explained more about some the effects the divorce was going to have on their own marriage. These spouses want church leaders to explore the following when approaching marriages of the adult child of divorce.

Help the spouse

  • To know the overall background of how family life was before the divorce.
  • To understand what family life was like in both homes (if the children had access to both homes) after the divorce.
  • To know the relationship between the mother and child.
  • To understand the relationship between the father and child.
  • To have some understanding how the relationship with the parents is going to affect their marriage. For instance if the daughter grew to not trust her father, how is her relationship with her dad going to affect the relationship with her husband.
  • To know how to find out about adult child of divorce’s fears when he or she won’t talk about the fears or recognize them.
  • Understand how to combat the one big fear the adult child of divorce has that he or she will end up divorced and will put his or her own children through the same difficulties he or she went through as a child.
  • Understand how to help their children have a relationship with both grandparents if there is no relationship between the adult child of divorce and a parent.

Why do children’s ministers need this information

You need this information in your tool chest because you are on the front line of children’s ministry. You are the ones that are impacting the child of divorce now. You can prevent some of these adult issues when  you help the child today.

Another reason you need to understand some of the issues adult children of divorce face is because many of the parents of the kids in your ministry were raised in a divorced home. Be aware of how the divorce affects them today in relation to the church family and to our Heavenly Father. Take these things into consideration when visiting with the parents or even if you ask them to volunteer in any of your classes.

If you are an adult child of divorce, what do you want church leaders and pastors to know?


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10 thoughts on “What adult children of divorce want church leaders to know

  1. Those are excellent and so true. Our self worth is at stake, the feelings of rejection, all those things that affect our relationship with anyone who should be showing love toward us. Often those unresolved feelings of unworthiness will infiltrate our relationship with God as well as leaders in the church. Unfortunately the ability for church leaders to show love and patience to the hurting individual is not perfected leaving yet another gaping wound…

  2. As an adult child of divorce, and a minister who works with children, teenagers, and adults of divorce, I think these are great insights and perspective that you portrayed here. Definitely a viewpoint and concern that the church needs to address.

  3. As an adult child of divorce, I didn’t have a lot of good advice or role models for choosing a spouse. Looking back at my failed marriage, I can see that I needed some guidance and maybe even a Christian family to “adopt” me, and guide me with my choices. As a single mom, I still feel the same and wish there were a family that would adopt me and my children.

    • Beautifully stated Kirsten. I pray you are in a good church. If so go to the leadership, take this article with you and ask for some help. Sometimes we have to ask for help. People who haven’t walked in your shoes just don’t what they don’t know.

  4. As an adult child of divorced parents, I would like church leaders and pastors to know that there is great potential for healing by encouraging adult children of divorced parents to get busy helping other children of divorce, of all ages. This is a great potential outreach project for congregations to undertake. For example, a congregation could raise money to purchase good books to help school-age children of divorced parents, set up an ordering page online, and then send the books to kids (and parents and teachers and counselors) who request them. There are at least 90 such books in print, and some of them are excellent. If this is too much for a single congregation to undertake, then the congregation could team up with a local charity or social service agency.

    • Thanks Don. Good idea. And of course each church could run DivorceCare for Kids, ( the organization that sponsors this blog.

      I donated a lot of my books on children in divorce to our congregation. I encourage parents whose kids are in DC4K to check out the books after the child has completed DC4K.

  5. I have ministered to single parents and their kids in our community through our church for over 15 years now. In that time, I have seen kids go through the divorce of their parents and grow into young adults scared to marry, continue to do whatever it takes to feel loved and accepted and walk away from the church.

    I have, however, seen kids who seek out counsel and now go to our class for ACOD and found healing and practical tools to change their future.

    First step for a church? Accept the stats of divorce in our country and care enough to seek out resources for acceptance, understanding and compassion. Linda Jacobs, your resources are the very best resources available, in my opinion.

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