ONE child's Parable

Question Of The Week: How Do I Help The Child Of Divorce Who Is All About “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” At Christmas?

Parenting //

We’ve talked a lot on this site about the hurting child of divorce and the various ways of ministering to these children. If you have been ministering very long to the child of divorce you know that while they indeed are hurting deeply, some of these children have figured out how to play the two parents against each other to get what they want. This time of year, everything is about “how much I’m going to get for Christmas.” They even seem to flaunt their “gimme” attitude to the other kids. You might say some of these kids need an attitude adjustment.

You’ll see some tweens and teens especially adept at this game. They have figured out, “If I tell mom just enough of what is happening over at dad’s she’ll get really mad and she won’t be thinking so much about my bad grade at school and she’ll give me the money to go that movie with my friends.” Or, “If I tell daddy about mom buying that new expensive coat, he’ll get upset that she uses his child support money on herself and I can ask him for that iPad I’ve been wanting.” These kids know how to work the system!

You might say some of these kids have big attitude problems. They come to expect “things”, especially at Christmas. I had one single dad tell me the other day that he sends his son anything he wants. All the son has to do is ask for it. This dad clearly doesn’t see the harm. I wonder how his son will treat him several years from now. Will he honor a father who never sees him but buys him things? Will there be a relationship when the son is an adult?

As a children’s minister what can you do to help children of divorce get back to what Christmas is all about.

  • Tell the Christmas story several times. Use a different angle each time, from the shepherd’s side, the wise men, Joseph and even Mary’s perspective. Always bring the emphasis back to baby Jesus.
  • Send a wrapped present home with each kid of divorce. Inside the wrapped package have a small baby Jesus replica. This Jesus can be put under their tree or displayed in their home in a prominent location.
  • Talk about the gifts we can give to God.
  • Emphasize that Christmas is about giving to Jesus.
  • Explain Christmas shouldn’t be about how many gifts we can get from different people.
  • Send home an Advent calendar or a 30 day Christmas devotion booklet. You might want to think about sending two booklets – one for each home where the child lives.
  • Pray for the child’s attitude.
  • Do not allow the child to flaunt their many gifts. Acknowledge the gifts but down play the child’s perceived importance of getting a bunch of stuff.

Remember, these kids are struggling. They need the investment you make in their lives, even at times when they are difficult or don’t seem very likable.

How have you handled the gimme child of divorce?

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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.