Divorce is a scary time for children. They need repeated assurances of their parents' love and understanding of the situation they are forced to endure.
What your children need to hear:
- Happiness will come back. Everyone is sad at some time or another. The good thing about sadness is that it is meant to go away. Parents and children will smile again, even after a divorce.
- You may feel sick. Don't be surprised if sometimes you don't feel like doing anything during this period of divorce. You don't know what is going to happen next and you aren't sure what caused the divorce. Just remember that in time you will understand the situation better, and life will settle down.
- Don't be ashamed of your feelings. Were you surprised, angry, or hurt when you found out your parents were getting a divorce? Some kids even feel glad or relieved because it means an end to arguing and fighting. However you feel is fine. Don't be afraid or ashamed about those feelings. It's OK to cry; after all, Jesus did, too.
- You have a future. Divorce hurts but it doesn't have to stop you from becoming whatever you want to be: governors, missionaries, presidents, police officers, teachers, doctors, musicians, husbands, wives, ministers, secretaries. Your future is as bright as you want to make it. Your dreams for tomorrow can come true.
- God loves you. Maybe you prayed and asked God to change the situation, but the divorce still happened. That is confusing. God doesn't stop divorce because He wants us to love each other because we choose to. He leaves it up to us. He wants us to love, but He can't make us love others. He, too, is sad about the situation, but He will always care about you, and your mother and father.
- There may be less money to live on. What questions do you want to ask your parents about money? There may be changes in the way you will be living and you can help find fun things to do that don't cost a lot of money.
- Expect some teasing. There may be some kids at school, or even some friends, who will tease you about your parents' divorce. It probably won't last long. Tell a few friends - and your teacher - about the divorce. You don't need to explain every detail. There are a lot of kids who are in the same situation: you are not alone.
- Do something nice for each of your parents. Parents need hugs, prayers, notes, and little favors that you can do for them. The parent you are not living with also needs your love and attention. Don't let your anger at the situation get in the way of loving both your mom and dad.
From What Children Need to Know When Parents Get Divorced by William L. Coleman, copyright (c) 1983, 1998. Used by permission of Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minn., 1-800-328-6109.
William L. Coleman is well-known for his devotional books for young people. A graduate of Washington Bible College and Grace Theological Seminary, he is also a licensed counselor who deals with families and children as they work through divorce. Married, the father of three children, and a grandfather, he makes his home in Nebraska.