Anchors for helping the Children of Divorce
A Parents Guide from www.childrenafterdivorce.com
The problem with trying to help children adjust to life after divorce (or single parenthood of any kind) is that so many other problems keep "Interfering". Parents/Grandparents who have no ANCHORS will find their children drifting away…often far away…often into serious trouble. Following are the "anchors" we have chosen as most likely to help parents/grandparents stick with their hurting children just when the need is greatest.
Guaranteed Daily Personal Time. If a child (any child) knows WHEN he will have some time with a parent he will learn to save his problems and emotional needs until that time comes. Not knowing exactly when you will see mom or dad makes giving up and acting out very attractive alternatives …too attractive for a child who is hurting. The key to making personal moments work is taking just two minutes before meeting to prepare your thoughts and focus on the feelings of the child…make it his time not yours. Even if your body is there children are quick to tell when your heart is not. This is so important that most of our website www.childrenafterdivorce.com is dedicated to helping parents make brief but dependable special times to BE with their children. Our favorites are cooking, whistle while you work and our Dad's page. For non custodial parents a scheduled phone call whether it is daily, weekly, monthly or once a year is an absolute minimum…just so the child knows the schedule.
Loss of parental attention is at the top of the list of indicators for suicide among white teenage boys (and most probably ALL the children of divorce) But it can be dealt with. The key whether you are a very busy custodial parent or a very guilty non custodial parent is making sure the children know WHEN their next emotional contact will be.
Dream Time. Shared dreams…plans for the future…are much better gifts than ANYTHING you can buy with money. The first and most important part of giving a child a future, a dream, is setting him free of the past…helping him to forgive, to release the temptation to blame himself, one or both parents or God. Asking forgiveness is not taking the blame for the past it is clearing the way for the future. Our favorite approach is " Honey, love is not easy it is very very hard. Will you forgive me for not knowing how to love your father/mother enough to stay married? Stick with it until the child forgives YOU for even the smallest offense even if the other parent was Attilla the Hun or Lucretia Borgia.. Asking forgiveness for not getting it just right is something each of us should do each day. Having the strength to do so with a child is a sign of true character…not shame or guilt. It will also help them get over the idea that you might give up on them next.
Help the children in your church feel useful (connected to the body) by encouraging them to color Bible verses for others, cards for the ill, invitations to the unsaved, special Bible blessings for new converts OR giving a Bible makeover to their homes and the homes of their extended family…aunts, uncles, cousins etc. Receiving a hand colored Father's Day, Mother's day, or birthday card with the best wishes of a child could surely be used of God to influence even the most wavering soul. Imagine what an army of children coloring these cards could do for the body of Christ, not to mention the blessing a child's soul feels when it is able to be a part of something worthwhile. Coloring for others could birth in a child's heart a deep sense of being worthwhile, of wanting to belong and do more.