Sometimes as adults we get too caught up in the issue of divorce when little kids just want someone to talk to them and someone to listen to them.
Kids get caught in the middle and many times they need neutral territory so they can let down, talk and not worry about hurting either parent’s feelings. Children’s ministers, volunteers, DC4K leaders and loving church family can fill this need. However, it’s important to know what to say in order to help a child.
Following are some helpful tools
- “Divorce is an adult problem. Let the adults take care of the divorce and you take care of just being a kid.”
- “The divorce is not your fault. Divorce is between your parents.” (The child may need to hear this dozens of times. Many kids take personal responsibility for their parent’s divorce.)
- For children who are out of control at home and the single parent is wanting help, encourage the parent to use your name as in, “Pastor Wayne said to tell you to __________.” Fill in the blank with an action such as:
“Go outside and take a walk”
“Go out and shoot some hoops”
“Read a book”
“Play a game”
“Take a bath or shower” (Water is soothing to kids and even more so if they are allowed to have toys and can play for a while in the water.)
If you have built a relationship with the child, it will take the pressure off the parent for your request as explained in the article “How to help single parents de-stress their children”
When a kid is upset with one of their parents it is hard for the other parent to get control. These kids will take out their anger and frustration on the parent that is in front of them. Using the name of someone the child respects and has a relationship with takes the stress off the parent. This shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence but something the parent can use when in an extremely stressful situation involving an issue that is out of her/his control.
- “Are you more worried about your mom or your dad? Let me take over that worrying for you.”
- “So what did you and your dad do last weekend?” This should be said casually and as if you are genuinely concerned. It can’t come across as you trying to collect information to use in court.
- “Whatever you want to tell me is confidential. That means I will not run and tell other people what you are saying.” Do not use the word “secret”. Secret is the word abusers and pedophiles use when they don’t want a child to tell someone what has happened to them.
- “I’m sorry that is happening to you.”
- “That must be hard for you.”
Keep a scripture or two in your pocket to use with the sad, angry or hurting child of divorce.
“He is always kind and loving to me: he is my fortress, my tower of strength and safety, my deliverer.” Psalm 144:2
“You are my hiding place from every story.” Psalm 32:7
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
And always ask if you can pray with them and then take the lead in praying for the child, their situation and their parents.
What phrases or words have you used that have been successful in ministering to the child of divorce in your midst?