Archives For Spiritual impacts

imageMany children of divorce appear to breeze through the divorce at the time the divorce happens. Many of these are little girls who identify with their mothers. They will hide their feelings and say and do the things they think the adults expect and want from them. However, the divorce experience remains alive – but as memories that they push to the back of their minds. Little boys tend to express their frustrations and tear through their feelings using sports and active behaviors. Their negative thoughts about the divorce of their parents appear to fade away.

As girls grow into adulthood, become involved in a relationship and marry or start a family, the memories from the divorce of their parents pop back into the brain – the sleeper affect kicks in. They begin to worry if the other person in the relationship will walk away. They wonder if their marriage will fail like their parent’s marriage. The worry if they know how to be married.

pdf to share leftThey feel doomed in their relationships. They don’t know how to be in a relationship. One young woman told me she could only breathe and trust her marriage after she has surpassed the number of years her parents had been married. She said she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. For 17 years she had waited anxiously, but after her 17th year of marriage she felt she could finally relax because they were going to make it.

Continue Reading…

Last week, we began a new series called “A New Way of Looking at the Spiritual Impact of Divorce on Children.”  In that series, we started looking at a new report from Melinda Lundquist Denton of Clemson University titled, “Family Structure, Family Disruption, and Profiles of Adolescent Religiosity.”  Last week, based on this study, we talked about how divorce impacts a child’s spiritual development.  Today, we will look at a new typology used in the report when thinking about children of divorce (or anyone else) when it comes to their faith and religious practice.  On Wednesday we will look at the results from the study based on this new typology.  Come back Wednesday as well for a free downloadable pdf file which contains all three parts of this series. In order to test the spiritual impacts of divorce on Kids, Denton first sets forth a framework that acknowledges that when it comes to religion, teens (and people in general) fall much more along a spectrum than they do in one or two groups. So, she proposes that we think of religious adherence and spirituality along a spectrum which includes five distinct points known as the Five “A’s.” Each of these A’s represents one point on the spectrum, and teens for purposes of this study were grouped into one of five categories:

  • Abiders
  • Adapters
  • Assenters
  • Avoiders, or
  • Atheists

Respondents were classified into each category based on their responses to multiple questions in the areas of: Continue Reading…

Editor’s Note: Today and next week we will be looking at a recent report detailing the impact of divorce on children’s spiritual development.  I hope that you will come back Monday and next Wednesday for the final two installments in this series.  Next Wednesday, we will post a pdf file containing all three parts.

ChurchWelcome back to our series of articles about the 6/50 Window. The 6/50 Window is a new name for an existing mission field for the Church represents the number of children of divorce who eventually end up as born again Christians with a biblical worldview (6%) as compared to the total number of children who will witness the dissolution of their parents’ marriage/relationship (50%). We have also looked at how the church has historically failed children of divorce by failing to reach out to these kids in their hour of greatest need. In order for the 6/50 Window to represent a viable mission field, it is important to establish that there is indeed a spiritual impact of divorce. Those of us who work with children of divorce know intuitively that there is a spiritual impact, but the purpose of this article is to examine the statistical support for that assertion.

A New Report

Unfortunately, very little scientific study of this issue has been undertaken, but with the recent release of the Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith report, and the associated releases of related studies, the gap in research has closed somewhat. One particular study was performed by Melinda Lundquist Denton of Clemson University with the results released in the article, “Family Structure, Family Disruption, and Profiles of Adolescent Religiosity” published in Journal For The Scientific Study of Religion.

Continue Reading…

imageA few weeks back, we published a series of articles highlighting the recent report from the Institute for American Values titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?”  Our coverage included a comprehensive review and synopsis of the report, a listing of conclusions from the report and a summary of the recommendations in the report for churches.  We also reported on Elizabeth Marquardt’s interview about the report on Fox News.  The release of this report fits nicely into our discussion of the 6/50 Window over the course of the last month.

Today, we wanted to bring a couple of additional resources related to the report to your attention.

First, and foremost, we wanted to let you know about the Family Scholars podcast.  Although the podcast is about more than the Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?, three of the first four episodes are either about the report or touch on the report.  The 2/8/2013 podcast is an interview by Amy Zeitlow (the host of the podcast) with co-author Elizabeth Marquardt about the report.  The 2/11/2013 podcast is an interview with Charles Stokes – another coauthor on the report.  Finally, while the 2/22/13 interview with Elizabeth Marquardt is not explicitly about the report, they do touch on the issue of fatherlessness in our society.  I would encourage you to listen to these episodes and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.

Continue Reading…

imageOver the last month or so, we have published a number of articles about The 6/50 Window – our name for the largely untapped mission field of children of divorce and their families. In order to understand 6/50 Window though, we have to understand how divorce impacts a child’s spiritual journey. Last week we looked at how our view of our earthly father impacts our view of God. Today, we will examine the anger that so many children of divorce feel towards God for letting their family fall apart.

Anger is a common emotion in children of divorce. They are angry at their parents, angry at siblings, angry with circumstance, angry at themselves, angry and the world, and many of them end up angry at God.

pdf to share leftWe saw this over and over again in the survey we are currently conducting of adult children of divorce (names have been changed to protect confidentiality, the numbers following the name represent age at the time of divorce and age at time of survey).

Continue Reading…

Divorce Ministry 4 Kids is now/

Hope 4 Hurting Kids

We are in the process of updating all articles and information from this site and moving them to their new home. 

You can find an updated copy of this article on Hope 4 Hurting Kids using this link.

Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.


Divorce Ministry 4 Kids is now/

Hope 4 Hurting Kids

We are in the process of updating all articles and information from this site and moving them to their new home. 

You can find an updated copy of this article on Hope 4 Hurting Kids using this link.

Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.

Editor’s note: Our original plan was to get back to our series on the 6/50 Window today.  However, the research for the next article in the series has taken longer than planned.  We hope that you will check back in next week for that article.  In the meantime, please enjoy this video from one of the pioneers in the area of helping children of divorce Elizabeth Marquardt.

Last week, Elizabeth Marquardt joined Fox News online to discuss the new report from the Institute for American Values titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” Watch the video then post your thoughts in the comments below.

For the last couple of weeks here on we have been talking about the 6/50 Window.  As part of that focus on children of divorce as a mission field, we have discussed a new report titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” which confirms that divorce has a profound impact on a child’s faith.  Earlier this week, we looked at 10 Key Observations and Conclusions from that report.  We will get back to our extensive look at the spiritual impacts of divorce next week, but today we wanted to summarize what I found to be one of the most helpful portions of last week’s report – the advice contained at the end of the report for pastors, church members, parents and children of divorce.  We have created the information sheet below which quotes/paraphrases the advice from the report.  You can click on the graphic for a printable pdf version.


imageLast week we reported on the release of a brand new report titled “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” by Elizabeth Marquardt, Amy Ziettlow, and Charles E. Stokes studying the impacts of divorce on children’s faith. The following represent ten key observations and conclusions from that report report.

1. Churches struggle to reach children of divorce.

“When parents do not involve their children in an active life of faith, churches seem bewildered about how to reach them.”

2. Children of Divorce are less religious on whole than children from intact families.

pdf to share right“While there are a diverse range of theories about why the adult offspring of divorced parents are less likely to be religiously involved than their peers from intact families, little doubt exists about the correlation or connection.”

“…when children of divorce reach adulthood, compared to those who grew up in intact families, they feel less religious on the whole and are less likely to be involved in the regular practice of a faith.”

“The authors found, for example, that those raised in happy, intact marriages were more than twice as likely to attend religious services, compared to those raised in good divorces. And, those raised in happy, intact marriages were more likely to report an absence of negative experiences of God, compared to those raised in good divorces.”

3. Children of divorce are more likely to leave religious practice all together.

“One important study by Leora E. Lawton and Regina Bures found that Catholic and moderate Protestant children of divorce are more than twice as likely to leave religious practice altogether, and that conservative Protestants are more than three times as likely to do so.”

4. Children of divorce are more likely to consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.”

“It is also becoming clear that grown children of divorce stand at the leading edge of a generation that considers itself “spiritual but not religious.” Yet they form a kind of broken leading edge, with spiritual stories quite often characterized by loss or suffering. Having perhaps turned to God for solace and hope, they may think of themselves as spiritual persons, but they report more difficulty practicing a faith within religious institutions.”

“In a separate study also using the Glenn and Marquardt data, Zhai and colleagues find that adult children of divorce are much more likely to identify themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’”

5. A parental divorce during adolescence increases the odds of some sort of religious change.

“…it appears as if the experience of parental breakup in adolescence triggers an increase in the odds of religious change, whether that change is a move toward or away from religion.”

6. Children formulate their image of God based on their experiences with their own parents.

“…children’s early images of God arise at least in part from their lived experience with their own parents.”

7. Parents and families are key to a child’s faith journey.

“Parents play a vital role in influencing children’s religious lives after divorce, particularly in a culture in which congregational engagement and other forms of civic involvement are no longer as normative as they once were.”

“Melinda Denton writes that the greatest predictor of the religious lives of youth is the religious lives of their parents: ‘Youth with highly religious parents are much more likely to be highly religious themselves, while youth whose parents are disengaged from religion are more likely to be disengaged as well.’”

“…some studies show that family practices are more closely linked than family structure to strong faith in adulthood, but intact families are more likely to have the stability necessary to maintain these practices.”

8. A father’s involvement is of particular importance to a child’s future faith.

“Overall, as reported by Elisa Zhai of Miami University and colleagues in an analysis of the Glenn and Marquardt data, the link between parental divorce and lower likelihood of the grown children’s regular practice of a religion appears to be significantly explained by lower levels of father’s involvement in the religious lives of these children.”

9. A so called “good divorce” does not eliminate the faith issues faced by children of divorce.

“The odds of religious attendance are more than twice as high for those raised in happy, intact marriages compared to those raised in amicable divorces.”

10. Divorce can provide an opportunity for children to develop a deeper relationship with God if their questions are answered and they a provided with spiritual role models.

“The health and future of congregations depends upon understanding, reaching out to, and nurturing as potential leaders those who have come of age in an era of dramatic social changes in family structure. The suffering felt by children of divorce may actually offer a pathway toward healing and growth, not only for themselves but for the churches.”