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What Adult Children of Divorce Want Church Leaders to Know

After interviewing adult children of divorce, I’ve learned they really want support and understanding in their church today. Even though many may have dropped out of church as a child, they know they want a relationship with Christ. Many of them want to serve in the church or at least attend on a regular basis.

Here are just a few of the things adult children of divorce have said they’d like church leadership and pastors to know. 

  • If a minister is going to help me, I want them to have experienced divorce in some way, either as a child, an adult or walked through it with a close friend. I don’t think they can help me if they don’t understand where I’m coming from. Or find someone that has been there and encourage him or her to walk with me. It’s the perception thing.
  • Help me understand the scriptures and the Bible stories when I can’t relate to a Heavenly God as a parent because my parent left me.
  • Change your approach to some stories, studies, prayers and activities to include and accommodate the child of divorce. As a teen, I always felt left out when the sermons on families only talked about two-parent families. I lived in a Christian single-parent family but was made to feel I didn’t have a family.
  • How can adults that have had a parent desert them understand John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Explain that to me in terms I can understand.

Adult children of divorce had spouses that chimed in also. Several have said their marriage might not have been so shaky at the beginning if someone had explained more about some the effects the divorce was going to have on their own marriage. These spouses want church leaders to explore the following when approaching marriages of the adult child of divorce.

Help the spouse

  • To know the overall background of how family life was before the divorce. 
  • To understand what family life was like in both homes (if the children had access to both homes) after the divorce.
  • To know the relationship between the mother and child.
  • To understand the relationship between the father and child.
  • To have some understanding of how the relationship with the parents is going to affect their marriage. For instance if the daughter grew to not trust her father, how is her relationship with her dad going to affect the relationship with her husband.
  • To know how to find out about the adult child of divorce’s fears when he or she won’t talk about the fears or recognize them.
  • Understand how to combat the one big fear the adult child of divorce has that he or she will end up divorced and will put his or her own children through the same difficulties he or she went through as a child.
  • Understand how to help their children have a relationship with both grandparents if there is no relationship between the adult child of divorce and a parent.

Why do children’s ministers need this information

You need this information in your tool chest because you are on the front line of children’s ministry. You are the ones that are impacting the child of divorce now. You can prevent some of these adult issues when  you help the child today.

Another reason you need to understand some of the issues adult children of divorce face is because many of the parents of the kids in your ministry were raised in a divorced home. Be aware of how the divorce affects them today in relation to the church family and to our Heavenly Father. Take these things into consideration when visiting with the parents or even if you ask them to volunteer in any of your classes.

If you are an adult child of divorce, what do you want church leaders and pastors to know?  

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Linda Ranson Jacobs is one of the forefront leaders in the areas of children and divorce and single-parent family needs. Having been both divorced and widowed, Linda was a single mom who learned firsthand the emotional and support needs of broken families, and she developed a passion to help hurting families. As a children’s ministry director, children’s program developer, speaker, author, trainer, and therapeutic child care center owner, Linda has assisted countless single-parent families and their children. In 2004, Linda created and developed the DivorceCare for Kids program, a biblically based, Christ-centered ministry tool designed to bring healing, comfort, and coping and communication skills to children of divorce. Local churches use this lay-led, 13-week program to launch a children’s divorce recovery ministry in their church and community.