Several years ago, a lot of attention on social media was given to a teacher, Kyle Schwartz. She didn’t know much about the students in her class, so she set out to find out about them by asking, “I wish my teacher knew…” She instructed the students to write their responses.
The results from that one simple question astounded her. One thing Kyle said on a TV interview was, “I realized my students had a voice, and I don’t hear what they want me to know.”
How many of our kids in our churches have a voice?
They need us to hear what they want us to know. Many times, we are so busy preparing, getting kids into classes, talking to parents and volunteers, and more that we can forget that we should give the kids a voice, too.
This is never truer than with the child of divorce.
Talk to any DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) facilitator, and they will tell you these kids are talkers. The kids in my DC4K group share from their little hearts the things that bother them, things they feel they can’t tell their stressed-out single parents.
One little boy said, “I have all these feelings bottled up inside of me, and I don’t know how to get them out. For two years, 2013 and all of 2014, no one has listened to me.”
This child went to two different churches with his two divorced parents. And yet it was the DC4K class where he chose to open up and talk.
Why did he talk to us?
- He talked to us because he felt safe.
- He knew we wouldn’t discuss his confidences with his struggling, warring parents.
- We asked him thought-provoking questions.
- We gave him a place to talk when he wasn’t in a large group.
- He talked at the snack table and the activity book table, where there was a caring adult and only a few kids.
- We assured him we cared and loved him.
- When he talked to one adult, after the kids left, we shared with each other what was said. We wanted to all be on the same page with this child.
- Each of us prayed every week for this struggling, angry child.
Give the kids at your church an opportunity.
Ask some kids at your church to write out an answer to “I wish my church leader knew… ” The person who asks could be a Sunday School teacher, small group leader or Awana teacher.
What do the children at your church wish you knew about them?
Here are just a few things I’ve heard children say over the years I’ve ministered to hurting kids of divorce.
- I’m hungry all the time since my dad moved out.
- My parents fight a lot. I think they are going to get a divorce.
- I’m divorced because my parents got a divorce.
- I miss my sister. She lives with my mom, and I live with my dad.
- I wish my teachers would call me by my last name, not my mom’s new husband’s name.
- I don’t feel like I belong at this church because I don’t get to come every Sunday.
Another question you could consider asking:
“What I wish my teachers knew I learned…” or “What I learned at…” It is really an eye-opening experience to hear the students’ take on what has been taught.
Here are some things the kids in my DC4K groups told me when asked what they had learned in our 13-week class:
- I learned divorce is an adult problem.
- I didn’t know there were other kids who felt like me. I’m not alone.
- I learned how to tell my parents how I was feeling. I wanted to tell them before, but they never asked me.
- I learned it’s OK to be sad.
- I learned how not to be mad at different people in my life.
- I learned to be kind. I never really knew how to be kind before.
- I learned it’s not OK to hurt people when I’m mad.
- I learned divorce is frustrating. Frustrating for the parents and the kids.
- I learned how to breathe from my belly when I’m nervous,.
- I learned Jesus loves me. Did you know Easter is about when Jesus died on the cross?
- I don’t have to get a divorce when I grow up. I thought I would have to, but now I understand I don’t.
Take a cue from elementary teacher Kyle Schwartz, and learn more about the children in your church.
This article originally appeared here.