Ministering to Children of Divorce

Wayne Stocks —  April 6, 2011

imageSometimes it seems like God lays something on your heart long before you figure out exactly what it is he wants you to do about it.  Almost two years ago, I started to really have a heart for the impact that divorce has on children.  I have never been divorced.  My parents were not divorced.  While I know a number of people who have been divorced, it is not an issue which was particularly important to me on a personal level.  Nonetheless, I felt like this was something God was pushing me to research and get involved in.  I started the process by reading anything I could find on the issue of divorce.  I studied what the Bible had to say about it, read up on statistics related to divorce, and explore the impact of divorce on kids.  The more I read, the heavier the whole issue weighed on my heart. 

I’m still don’t feel like I’ve figured out exactly what it is God wants me to do, but I like to write so I thought I would start there.  Over on Dad in the Middle, I have published a number of articles over the last several months on the issue of divorce and children.  They include:

In the latest article, I listed some of the startling statistics on divorce in our society including:

  • One half of all children in America will live through the break-up of their parents marriages. Nearly half of those will also see the dissolution of their parents’ second marriages as well.
  • As many as 40% of kids today are growing up in a family where the father is absent because of separation or divorce.
  • 40% of children of divorce who do marry eventually end up in divorce. In other words, only 36% of adult children of divorce are happily married. Among adult children of intact families only 9% divorce. In other words, 73% of children of intact families are happily married.
  • In marriages 0-4 years old, chances of divorce increased 87% if wives had a history of parental divorce, 620% if both partners did.

And one of the most alarming statistics from that article:

A study in 1980 found that less than 10% of children had support from adults other than relatives during the acute phase of the divorce.

Consider the following quote from the article titled How Does Divorce Affect Children? Coping with the After-effects of a Divorce on your Kids:

One of the most traumatic experiences any family can go through is a divorce. This is because a divorce not only entails the separation of spouses but the breakdown of the other relationships in the family as well. Children are compelled to live apart from one of the parents while siblings may have to live in different families.

The family is the first place where children learn life skills and get ready to be part of the larger society. Parents are the first resources of unconditional love, emotional support, material security and cultural skills for children. A divorce leads this family unit to fall apart and the consequences are devastating for the children.

The fact of the matter is that divorce is devastating to children. As children’s ministers, we have to be prepared to minister specifically to these kids.  Given the statistics, there will likely be a number of kids in your ministry that are suffering through or living with the devastating impact of their parent’s divorce in your ministry this weekend.  How will you minister to them?

Join us this Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 PM EST on Kidmin Volunteer Radio as we discuss the ins and outs of ministering to kids of divorce.

Wayne Stocks

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Wayne is married to a wonderful woman and has four kids whom God uses to teach him on an almost daily basis. He is blessed to volunteer in a wonderful children's ministry at New Life Church Gahanna. He established Kidmin1124 for those who give their time to kids and feel passionately about children's ministry. When he isn't working on Kidmin1124, he maintains another blog at WayneStocks.com and contributes articles on a regular basis to Ministry-to-Children.com.

4 responses to Ministering to Children of Divorce

  1. Wayne,

    One of my earliest memories in Children’s Ministry was doing a divorce recovery workshop with a psychologist. I had the children. At the end of the day we sat in a circle on the floor and talked about the day.

    A boy said with tears coming down his face, “This is the first time anyone has asked ME what I felt about the divorce.”

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