image In our world today many children are experiencing early childhood trauma. We now know through a lot of research that childhood trauma can affect a child for the rest of their lives. The website ACEs too High (Adverse Childhood Experiences) explains through several articles and research reviews about how trauma in early childhood can affect a child’s behavior and health during childhood and can cause life-long problems.

We know that early trauma causes toxic stress on the brains of young children. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement about this issue. They encourage pediatricians to aid a child who is experiencing toxic stress.

pdf to share rightThis means they will need to not only check a child for the normal ear infections, colds and administer the typical childhood immunizations, but they will also need to ask questions about the home life. In essence baby doctors have been told, “Your new job is to reduce toxic stress.”

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image Recently I was ministering to a lady that was new to our area. She was from another state and had just moved here. She said she had to get out of an abusive marriage so she came to live with a relative and for some peace and quiet while she sorted out her thoughts.

I am always for trying to save a marriage. Unless the children are in an unsafe environment and the mom’s (or dad’s) safety is at risk, then I will mention the possibility of saving a marriage. As per my normal questions, I asked if there was any hope her marriage could be saved. She almost shouted at me, “NO! I’ll never go back! Not after what he has put me through.”

pdf to share leftI offered to take her through a program called “Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce.” It is about saving one’s marriage. I’ve used it several times. It has some thought provoking questions that help one sort through their feelings wisely before a couple divorces. I’ve seen several marriages saved with this program. If a marriage can’t be helped then this program gives helps for setting some boundaries for oneself as the couple moves towards divorce.

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imageIn our world today many children experience what is known as an emotional concussion. Emotional concussions can be just as lethal, and sometimes even more so, than a physical concussion.

Emotional concussions occur when young children live in dysfunctional homes controlled by alcohol, drugs, explosive tempers and homes full of stress. They happen when children live with dysfunctional adults and with people who are physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abusive. Divorce can also be a major cause of an emotional concussion.

From the ACEs Too High website we find, Continue Reading…

imageWouldn’t it be wonderful if every little kid who had divorcing parents showed up in your class stress free? There would be no fighting, arguing or yelling. All the kids would want to be involved. They would want to form community and care for one another. The group would ooze kindness.

Impossible you say? I beg to differ. Many children who live in divorcing and stressed out families don’t know how not to be stressed. It is their way of life and, like we’ve said before, they will bring that chaos and stress with them. However, there are things we can do to alleviate some of their stress.

I want to share a few important tips I have learned down through the years. Continue Reading…

imageEvery child of divorce is different and unique, and how you work with and for that child must be tailored to their personality, circumstances and environment. That said, there are some common things that all children of divorce need. If you work with kids, you need to be prepared to offer these to them. Likewise, as the church, we must work to ensure that our ministries and our congregants are equipped to offer these six basic needs to children from disrupted families.

1. LOVE

The first thing every child of divorce needs, indeed every child for that matter, is adults in their life who love them and model the love of Christ for them. While a divorce will not cause parents to love their children any less, it will cause children to question whether their parents still love them. On top of all that, the emotions and stress that comes along with a divorce takes time away that parents might otherwise spend with their kids and may leave parents emotionally drained and incapable of adequately expressing their love for their children. As a result, children from disrupted families are often left with a love tank on empty and desperately seeking attention and affection. Find appropriate ways to show the child of divorce that you are there for them and that you love them. Demonstrate the sacrificial love of Christ to them and for them. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and challenge yourself to show them love as defined in that chapter. You may be the one person in the life of a child from a disrupted family that keeps that child from seeking love and attention in destructive places.

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imageOne spring day I was walking in my neighborhood. As I rounded the curve I noticed a little girl that looked to be about 5 years of age, playing outside while her mom was working in the yard. When I came back around the next time the little girl was dragging out a large tub. As I passed by her house she began to pull out the garden hose.

The third time around the block, the hose was in the bucket, water was spilling out over the sides and the little girl was nowhere to be seen. In just a moment she came running out of the house and had on what appeared to be last year’s swimsuit. Evidently she had grown quite a lot over the winter.

pdf to share rightShe gleefully jumped in the tub of water. She tried to sit down in the tub. She stood, got out of the tub and walked around looking at it. With a look of determination she took a running jump and headed for the water again. No matter how hard she tried, she no longer fit in that small tub.

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imageAs I was on my morning walk I noticed two birds chirping very loudly. One bird was on the right side of the street. The other bird was on the left side of the street.

It seemed to me that they were conversing with each other. The one on the right would chirp almost as if it were yelling. Then the bird on the left side of the street would chirp. Back and forth went the banter. Sometimes they wouldn’t let the other bird finish before they started chirping.

As I got closer, I think the bird on the right in its best bird language said, “See that lady walking toward us? She belongs to me this weekend.” As I got closer, the bird on the left quit chirping. I’m sure that if I spoke birdese I would have interpreted his silence as something bad. Plus I think the bird was scowling at me.

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imageThe question we get asked more than any other here at Divorce Ministry 4 Kids goes something like this:

What do I say to a child in my church who tells me on Sunday that his/her parents are getting a divorce?

Obviously, each situation is different and how you will reply to this situation will depend on the age of the child, your knowledge of the situation and your relationship with the child. However, there are some standard things that are acceptable o say to any child who announces to you that their parents are getting a divorce.

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imageEvery child has dreams and when parents divorce or break up, silence from the adults in their lives can tend to destroy the dreams in a normal child centered environment. All children are self-centered. That’s how God made us – to depend on our parents and other adults.

However, when there is a crisis such as a divorce, kids need people to talk to them and explain what is happening and what’s going to happen. Children don’t need silence from the very people they depend upon to help them through the rough patches of life.

pdf to share rightMany divorcing parents don’t know what to say to their child so they don’t say much. Some will sit the kids down and tell them they are getting a divorce but they stop short of explaining exactly what that means. Continue Reading…

imageA new report was just released by Princeton University that stated approximately 40 percent of children in the U.S. lack strong emotional bonds in their lives. A child’s primary attachments will form with their parents and begin very early in life. However, there are different levels of attachment that kids can form. In the absence of appropriate emotional bonds with their parents, many of these children can still bond with an alternate caregiver such as a grandparent, childcare staff or caring baby sitters. These “secondary bonds” allow these kids to move forward with only minimal attachment issues.

pdf to share rightWhy is this important for our future? If children don’t form emotional bonds and connect with their primary care givers as infants, they will more than likely face behavior issues such as aggressiveness and defiance as children and hyperactivity as teens and adults. Because of their behavior issues, many will face limited educational benefits as they may be suspended from school; sent to alternative schools or end up dropping out of school all together. Some may grow up without a developed conscience intent on doing harm to anyone who gets in their way. If children are severely unattached they will not be able to trust others. Because they learn not to trust others, they turn inward and only trust themselves. These are the children who will lie, steal, hurt animals and hurt other people. These are just some of the problems faced by kids who don’t develop proper attachments early in life.

Attachments issues can arise in many different environments and are the result of the child not getting adequate time an opportunity to attach with their caregiver. Take for example infants who live in a high stress single parent home. The single parent, whether it is mom or dad, might be in a state of shock and barely surviving. They take the child to childcare, work a full day, pick the child up and stumble home. Hoping the childcare gave adequate care for the day; they may just feed the child and put them to bed as they struggle to keep up with life.

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