Children of Divorce and Church Services

Recently my friend Tiffany Crawford posted something on her blog that got me to thinking yet again about a controversial subject. (http://tiffanycrawford.org/2012/11/06/charismatic-churches-use-military-tactics/)

Maybe this subject is not controversial to anyone but me but that is probably because I’m one of the few people in children’s ministry and church work that thinks often about the child of divorce. The controversy is children’s church versus keeping children in big church, grown up church or simply worship service whatever you want to call it.

I am opposed to all the separating we do in churches today. It seems as though when a family comes to church the minute they enter the door everyone goes a different direction. While this might not be that big of an issue for two-parent families it can be a HUGE issue for single parent families. And I suspect it could be a big deal for two-parent families if they stopped to think about it.

I understand parents wanting their kids to attend children’s church because they want their children to have biblical concepts presented to them on their developmental level. And I understand parents want to worship and hear what is going one without being pestered or bothered by the children. However, I think kids should be in the church service with the parents at least occasionally; say at least once a month.

When my daughter was deployed to Afghanistan and I was living in their house helping with the grandchildren the kids attended church with me and my husband. They could have opted to go to the children’s departments but they chose to stay with us.

During the church service they played. They whispered. They dug in my purse for gum. They wrote on any paper they could find. But they also watched. They watched us pray. They watched me take notes and agree and sometimes disagree with the pastor. They watched us sing and worship. They watched Papa Bruce shake hands with others while he had his Bible tucked under his arm.

Then we saw it. We saw the 3 yr. old tuck his little notebook under his arm and walk around sticking out his little hand to shake hands with others. He was imitating his Papa Bruce. It was a blessing to behold.

We saw the 8 year old taking notes. We saw the teen slumping and pretending to not pay attention but we heard his conversation later in the week at the dinner table and while we were riding in the car together. He was hearing and getting it.

Children in single parent families need to be attuned to what is happening with their single parent regarding church and religion. These kids are exposed to two different homes and sometimes different religions.

I suspect my grandchildren didn’t want to be separated from me because I was a primary care giver during a stressful time in their lives. I was a connection to mom. They depended on me for emotional stability; for nurturing and for a lot of hugs and kisses.

The same holds true for children living with one parent. They need the physical presence of their parent with them in this building called a church. They need those few minutes a week or a month where they can connect with that parent with something that is bigger than their problems; bigger than their family issues and just plain bigger than them. They need church family.

I realize there are many that will vehemently disagree with me. That’s cool. All I ask is that you think about the child of divorce and the stress you might be adding to their lives when you separate them once again from their parent and from their siblings.

“All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.” Isaiah 54:13 (NIV)