I was 13 years old when my parents divorced. To be honest, I was sick of living in a house filled with fighting so my brothers and I were not all that upset. As time went on, I realized I was no longer like my friends at church, who were living at home with both of their parents.
I am sure this is one of the toughest trials you have ever been through. You need to use this time to draw close to the Lord and lean on Him like you have never done before. While you are doing that, please don’t abandon your kids emotionally. Let them see the Lord working in your life. You don’t need to preach at them, but you can use teachable moments, regardless of their age.
If you have young children, get in a routine before bedtime. Read them a story, maybe even from a children’s Bible and pray with them. Teach your young child how to pray. If you have older children, they may not be as open with you about their feelings. They may even act like their current situation is not bothering them, when their behavior may show that it is. Kids in middle school and early high school years are at a fragile point. They are experiencing a lot of new changes in their own lives and bodies. The confusion of a separation or divorce is adding to that stress.
Try not to give your kids information that they don’t need. Don’t fill their head with all the wrong things their other parent is doing. Build your mate up to your kids. Get them involved in praying for their parent who is gone from the home. Get your kids involved in church. I was very involved in the youth group at our church when my parents were going through their divorce. I honestly believe that if I had not been, I may have made some wrong choices during my teen years.
Studies show that if a child does not know the Lord by the time they are 18, the chances of them coming to know the Lord drastically decrease. Right now you are not raising kids, you are raising future adults who need to know the Lord.
Make church and learning about the Lord fun, no matter what age your child is. Go to your local Christian bookstore and pick up a Bible trivia game. Plan to have family devotions, even if you can only do it a few times each week. Help your kids see that having a relationship with Jesus can be fun.
It may discourage them to see that their mom or dad is always depressed or crying. Imagine things from their perspective. “Mom or Dad is praying, and the Lord is going to take care of us, but in the meantime, I am unhappy and miserable. Everyone will have to suffer with me.” Don’t let your kids see you living in defeat.
In our home, we have a blessing jar. When we see a blessing or an answer to prayer, we put a stone in the jar. The jar doesn’t bring us luck or answers to prayers, but it does serve as a reminder to our four children that we serve a God who does answer prayers.
Right now your preteen or teenager may be turning to friends for support, maybe even friends of the opposite sex. Your kids are at a vulnerable age. Hug them, love them and most importantly, introduce them to Jesus. Someday (sooner than you think) your kids may be married and have kids of their own.
When we got married more than 20 years ago, my husband and I determined during our premarital counseling that divorce is not an option. There is simply no back door to our marriage. We have determined that no matter what happens that is not the solution. Does that mean that we are guaranteed to never have marriage problems? Does that mean we are certain one of us won’t be unfaithful to our vows? No! It only means that we realize we live in a fallen world, and we have determined that the escape clause won’t apply to us.
Help your kids start thinking about the determinations (or guardrails) they need to make in their lives right now. What do they want in a mate? When they start dating, what are the rules? Where is the line in the sand? What can they do differently so they don’t repeat this cycle of separation and divorce?
Many of you have a hard job right now. You are trying to be a mom and dad to kids who need both mom and dad in their home. Lean on the Lord and let Him help you show your kids how to get through this situation. Continue to lead them to the cross each and every day.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
In my Bible, above this passage, I have crossed out the word “the” and replaced it with “your.” …“I am Your way and Your truth and Your life.”
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26
Today, if you are weary and you don’t know what to pray, just cry out to the Lord. Pray His Word back to Him. He has promised you that the Holy Spirit is interceding on your behalf.
Lori Steinkamp Lassen
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
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Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.