On Christmas Eve at about 6:00 p.m. a seventeen year-old young man murdered his single mom in the Florida community where I live. They had been having an altercation and at some point in time the young man grabbed a baseball bat and beat his mom and stabbed her numerous times with kitchen knives.
From all accounts the young man appeared to be a good kid and had not shown any previous signs of aggression. The baseball coach said the kid had a bright future and spoke well of the young man.
A friend of mine worked in the after school program with the 9 year old sister. My friend reported that this young man was always kind and polite when he picked up his sister. His younger sister idolized her brother.
I am saddened for the family and our community, but more than being sad I’m outraged. Outraged that we have lost another young man. We have lost a single mom who was a middle school teacher and highly respected and liked by her students.
Why am I posting this message on a blog that educates children’s ministers and church workers about the child of divorce?
Because church leaders, children and youth ministers need to be the first line of defense for kids whose parents are separating and divorcing. We should be the ones leading the way so that schoolteachers, coaches, community leaders and extended family know how to help individual children and teens. This means we must become knowledgeable about what divorce does to some children.
How many more school shootings is it going to take for us to get serious? How many more single parents are going to be murdered before we realize hurting children hurt others.
The shooter in the latest Colorado killings was a young man from a single parent home. The teen that did the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012 was from a single parent home. When you research you will find most distraught young people hurting others come from single parent homes. I’m not saying all kids in single parent homes have issues. What I’m saying is that many do and there is not much help available.
- What if these young people had been helped when their parents divorced?
- What if someone taught them how to get in touch with their feelings in a positive manner?
- What if someone taught them what to do with their anger and rage so they could process the death of the once in tact family?
- What if someone showed them there is a heavenly Father that will never leave them or forsake them?
- What if someone introduced them to Christ and helped them accept a Savior’s love?
- What if the parent had a place to learn and be encouraged about how to be a successful single parent parenting alone?
- What if the some of the damage of this family’s divorce could have been healed when the mom attended a divorce support group?
The list of “what if” questions are numerous. The answers will affect every troubled child and teen in every community.
Here are four things you can do right away to make a difference:
1. Find people in your congregation that will step up and mentor young people. It could be someone that will listen and model loving and kind attitudes. It might be a grandparent type of person that takes children of divorce under their wings and shows them what Jesus love is all about.
2. Hold seminars educating church workers, schoolteachers, childcare and afterschool leaders about effective ways to minister and discipline hurting children.
4. Sponsor groups in your church that support the hurting single parent such as:
What other strategies can you suggest to impact the lives of trouble youths and their single parents?