divorce

Got Kids in Trauma? Got Adults with Disorders? Might Be a Connection

Child Development / Issues Kids Deal With //

In a post last week, Trauma-Informed Churches, I referenced a study that has tremendous implications for people working with children and adults who experienced early adverse childhood experiences.

On the website “Ministry Best Practices” they have an incredible infographicwith their article, “Adulthood Disorders Linked to Childhood Trauma”. This inforgraphic would be great to hang in children’s minister’s offices because it would be a constant reminder of what is going to happen to many of the children in our churches if we don’t minister to them now and keep them exposed to biblical concepts and teachings.

The infographic like the studies mentioned in the “Trauma-Informed Churches” article talks about children who experienced parental absence due to separation/divorce as one of the events that can affect these children as adults.

Did you know that kids feel

  • Worthless: Many of the children we work with in DC4K feel worthless. They will tell you they feel that empty, useless and like trash.
  • Endangered and unsafe: Many don’t feel safe and feel a constant infringement on their safety or well-being. While they can’t always put that feeing into words they will say, “I just don’t feel safe.” It is a gut reaction to one of their parents leaving. My own son at 8 years of age kept saying he was worried someone was going to break into the house after his dad left.
  • Sad, confused and some are very angry

Did you know what happens these children, as they become adults

To the brain:

Brains are rewired.
The more crisis and trauma a child experiences the more it affects the brain.
Trauma can damage the ability to manage stress.
Some brains appear smaller in young children in highly stressful situations.

To their health:

Adult onset of AHDH, depression and suicidal tendencies.
Women are 27% more like to become obese
Men 66% more likely to become obese.
Onset of adult health issues such as asthma, heart conditions, etc.
Adult eating disorders
Adult substance abuse

To their connection to God:

They walk away from church
They say they feel spiritual but not religious
Some are angry at the church because they feel the church family shunned them as children
Other adults are angry at God because He didn’t force their parents to reconcile
Many adult children of divorce are stuck in time warp faith walk – where they were when their parents split

So you see, there are even more reasons to work with the child of divorce within the church. They need us now and our future generations need us.

I know some of the kids who came to DC4K when it first came out ten years ago. I have kept track of them and they are not experiencing as many of these adverse effects as one might expect.

I believe it is because we address

  • The basic need for love and acceptance
  • Safety issues
  • Support through relationship building
  • How to label their feelings. If you can’t label a feeling, you can’t tame it either. When a child learns how to put a name to a feeling they learn how to address the problems that come with feeling that emotion.
  • How to manage their anger and appropriate ways to deal with it

We do much more but do you see how just these few things might help someone who is a child today become a better adult tomorrow?

Pass this onto your minister. Perhaps it will help him or her have more understanding and empathy when an adult comes to him with many of the adult problems we have in our world today.

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About the Author

Linda has been a children’s ministry director, developed DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids, dc4k.org), operated a therapeutic child care, and has extensive experience at successfully accommodating challenging behaviors. She currently serves as the DC4K Ambassador and Professional blogger at http://blog.dc4k.org.