For Divorced Parents and Those Ministering to Divorced Parents & Their Families
By: Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT
Divorced Parents in a Two-Parent World
The two-parent world is quickly becoming a single parent world:
- The number of single parent families in the United States has doubled in the last 25 years.
- Currently over 16 million children in the U.S. live in single parent homes.
- The Census Bureau estimates that 59% of U.S. children will spend time in a single parent home during their minor years
The world and the church still often treat single parents as if they are incomplete in some way:
- “Just one?” This simple greeting from the waitress as you go out to enact alone is an example of the your new reality: Suddenly you are one without a partner in a couples-oriented world.
- Most activities are still couple or two-parent family oriented (classes, seminars, small groups, sermon series, social activities).
- Single parents are expected to fit in easily with singles’ activities. People who find themselves single parents have different situations and needs. Divorced or abandoned singles, widowed singles, abandoned or single adoptees do not have a lot in common with never married singles.
- Society and the church community apply pressure on the single parent to find their soul mate. “Didn’t God say it was not good for a single person to be alone?” (Genesis 2:18)
- Society and the church community sometimes perpetuate the stigma of the divorced parent as a failure or, at worst, the product of what some still treat as the unforgivable sin.
God has a place and a plan for single parents and their children:
- God shows his care for a single parent and her son. (Genesis 21:9-21 The story of the handmaiden Hagar and her son Ishmael).
- God is Father to the fatherless, Nurturer to the motherless and Companion/Comforter/Counselor to the lonely.
- When God is in lives and in the home, single parent families can be “complete.”
Myths about Children of Divorce:
MYTH: Children who grow up in a household following divorce are more likely to struggle in school, get into trouble with the law, develop serious social problems, and have failed relationship after failed relationship.
FACT: The majority of single parent families have raised well-rounded, successful children. Many negative predictions for children raised by a single divorced parent have more to do with economic hardship than the lack of an intact family and household. With hard work, unconditional love, positive discipline, good parenting skills, faith and a lot of prayer, single parents of divorce can raise capable, content, successful Christian children.
MYTH: Children of divorce will never have healthy relationships themselves.
FACT: Children raised by loving and involved divorced parents seem to put more energy into maintaining their relationships.
MYTH: Children of divorce have lower self-esteem.
FACT: Children of divorce raised in home where they are loved and taught Christian value have a better chance of feeling good about themselves and life in general. The greater incidence of low self esteem in children happens in two-parent and single-parent homes where emotional chaos and/or abuse exist and family members rarely express love for one another.
Be aware of symptoms of dangerous situations for your children:
Self destructive behavior
- Threats or attempts to commit suicide; cutting themselves (usually requires hospitalization)
- Eating disorders (counseling)
- Shoplifting (counseling)
- Fast driving and incredible risk-taking (counseling)
- Physical and violent encounters (counseling, removal from dangerous situations)
Behavior to medicate their pain
- Drug and alcohol misuse (hospitalization, 12 step program)
- Promiscuous sexual behavior (counseling)
Clinical depression (may require medication, counseling and/or hospitalization)
- Loss of interest in normal activities or achievement (at home or school)
- Anxiety and an inability to relax
Read Divorced With Children Pt. 2 on the blog.
KIDWorks is a free support group program for children ages five to eighteen that are experiencing the divorce of their parents. At KIDWorks we believe that children need special help to overcome the losses and changes in their life due to a divorce and that honoring that healing process is a necessary component to maintaining healthy relationships in the future.