More than likely, we all know at least one child who has or is walking through the experience of their parents’ divorce. My own parents’ divorced when I was in elementary school, and while I am in no way defined by this event, learning to navigate the ins and outs of growing up in a divorced home has had a major impact on my life. No matter what role you play in their life (mom, dad, aunt, grandpa, neighbor, church leader, etc.), as believers, we are called to remind others of how much God loves them (John 3:16), as well as to point them back to the Truth of their worth in His sight (Jeremiah 1:5).
All children need to see examples of adults whose relationship with the Lord is their top priority (Matthew 6:33). Additionally, children need constant reminders that God is good, that He loves His children, and desires their obedience (Proverbs 22:6). This is just as true for children experiencing their parents’ divorce.
Being reminded that they can trust God and His plan even when we may not understand it can make a huge impact on the direction of their life and their view of the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6). Point them to the Truth that though we live in a world filled with pain and trouble (John 16:33), we have a Heavenly Father who promises to take care of us and offers peace (John 14:27).
Remember that every child is different. The way two siblings process and deal with their parents’ divorce could be drastically different. Take time to get to know that child as an individual, how they’re handling what they’re walking through, and help them to process those emotions in a way that will care for them specifically.
Meeting them where they are includes reminding them of who and whose they are (Ephesians 2:10) – that they have been fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14, Genesis 1:27). Once you discern where they are in processing the divorce and their emotions, you can then help them to navigate what growth looks like from there (1 Peter 2:1-3).
God created each of us to be in relationship with others (Genesis 2:18). This means that no one person has all the answers, nor are we expected to! Just as adults who are walking through a divorce should seek out Christ-centered community to come alongside them as they process, grow, and heal, this type of community can also help parents to guide kiddos through everything they’re experiencing, and to figure out how to best care for and encourage them along the way (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Similarly, be open to inviting your church body into caring for both adults and children who are walking through divorce in their family. While the enemy often wants us to feel isolated, openly walking through recovery with others who have experienced something similar, as well as the healing found in Christ, reminds us that we are not alone (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
If your child or children you know have experienced or are currently walking through the divorce of their parents, check out Watermark’s divorce recovery ministries for adults, kids, and teens, beginning Tuesday, February 16, 2016 on our Dallas campus.
My name is Emily Loper, and for the past few years, I’ve been blessed to serve on staff at Watermark as the Single Adults Assistant, working with ministries like DivorceCare and Single Parent Families. God’s grace displayed throughout my own experience with my parents’ divorce as a child, as well as growing up in a single parent home, makes me grateful to work toward reminding others currently walking through similar circumstances (parents and kids alike) that God is good, trustworthy, and that He alone can satisfy.