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Ministering to Children of Divorce

Brian Dykes

Speak kindly about both parents. Encouraging words may be lacking at home. Anger and hostility are often the driving forces between separated or divorced parents. Focus on the positive aspects of each parent when you're with the child.

Open up a dialogue with each parent. Tell each parent that you're interested in the child and want to be available to the child. Update both parents on events, projects, successes, and pains that the child experiences as part of your program.

Be aware of possible sensitive situations. One delicate area revolves around the specific legalities involved in each divorce. One parent may've lost parental rights and may be legally prohibited from having any contact with the child. Or a court may decide that one parent is not obligated to know any information about the child.

The circumstances around the divorce may've involved abusive behavior. If a child confides about a possibly abusive situation with either parent, assure the child that such behavior is not appropriate. Immediately confer with your pastor and Child Protective Services in your county.

Support families. Encourage your church to provide resource people, workshops, and support groups. Since many parents have been out of the single social scene for years, sessions on improving social skills may be helpful. Practical workshops on car repair, finances, home repair, resume writing, conflict resolution, and time management can help the family save money and decrease frustration.

Provide positive adult relationships for adults and children. A mentor will help a child by providing interaction with another adult and can give the parent a break from the strains of constant parenting. An Adoptive Grandparents program in your church can also be a positive resource and can give older people an avenue for service. Likewise, an adult peer mentor for the parent can help guide the divorced person in times of great anxiety and frustration.

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