Personal perspective and research about the child of divorce

Month: December, 2012

Ministering to Kids of Divorce at Christmas

Are you a children’s minister or know a children’s minister? Here is the link to a blog I wrote, “Ministering to Kids of Divorce at Christmas” on the Imagine Family Ministry site.

Blessings as you minister to children of divorce all year long.

School Shooting in Newtown School: Advice for Parents

After having had a child care in OK during the Ok. City bombing let me offer some tips we learned.

1. Parents please do not hug your child fiercely every time you see them. They may not fully comprehend all that has happened however, they will pick up on your fretfulness.

2. Turn off the TV. I can’t say this loud enough TURN OFF THE TV. Younger children can’t tell the difference in reality and non reality. To them every time they see something on the shooting they will think another school has been attacked and will wonder if their school is next.

3. Do not talk to other adults about this shooting in front of your children. Children don’t understand speculation.

5. Try to keep yourself calm. Kids WILL pick up on your anxieties. Promise you they will.

6. At a calm moment sit down with your children and ask them what they know about the school shooting. Ask them what they want to know. Explain things in as calm a voice as you can.

17. Don’t lie to your children. When they ask you why this happened, tell them you don’t know. If they ask why God would allow this to happen, tell them God did not want this to happen and He wants them to be safe. Sometimes bad people do bad things.

8. Ask your children to pray with you for the families of the children and the teachers that were hurt or died (depending on the age of your child). Continue to pray for the children and their families at Sandy Hook Elementary School for the next few days.

9. Pull your children up on your lap and tell your children they are safe right now. You can only guarantee your child’s safety in the moment and for now that is what they need.

10. If I had elementary age children right now I’d talk to them about listening to their teachers when an emergency happens. Some schools might start practicing what to do in a shooting situation. I know in our child we practiced escape routes, etc. We talked a lot about what would happen if a bomber came to our program. We asked the kids to take some responsibility in helping us be on the look out. Kids will take their responsibility seriously. If presented wisely kids will be very mature about it all. We talked about keeping each other safe.

We also talked about what to do if a shooter should appear. We actually had some situations we had to prepare in advance for in regards to keeping all kids safe. We explained to the kids that we had safety measures in place.

Don’t be surprised if your child starts playing through various situations. Even 9, 10 and 11 year old kids will pull out the army men and other characters and play through their stress and fears. Stay on the sidelines, listen and observe. Just let them play through without interruptions. Bath time is another time kids will play through frustrations.

At any rate this has been my experience. I wish all of you the best in keeping your kids calm and safe. And remember your child might not even talk about it right now but they might bring it up months later. Be ready and prepared when it does come up.

Linda Ranson Jacobs

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Exuberant Kids at Christmas

Linda Ranson Jacobs

“Guess what? On Christmas Day my sister and me get to open our presents at mom’s house. Then I get to go to my dad’s house and he said he has a lot of presents for me. After we open presents at Dad’s then we are going to grandma’s house and I get to open more presents there. Presents, presents, presents. I must be the luckiest kid of all. I love Christmas!”

Whew! That sounds like an exciting and very busy day for a child. It also sounds like a day in which the baby Jesus gets left out. As a children’s minister don’t you worry about the true meaning of Christmas and this child? The birth of our Savior doesn’t seem to be amongst all the presents.

Down through the years as I’ve worked with children of divorce I’ve noticed that Christmas is either a very depressing time. Or it is one hyped up by the onslaught of gifts from guilty divorced parents trying to soothe their guilt. It is rare to find a single parent that has developed the ability to create normal holiday times for the children.

For some children holidays are painful reminders of how their family life used to be. Or they might be the children who have lived in two homes for years but something might have happened the past year to bring the hurts back to the forefront. This could be a new the announcement of a pending marriage of a parent or even the birth of a half sibling.

For these children church leaders need to pray for and with the child. It is a mistake to ignore the issues or to bury them. It is also a mistake to try and “happy up” a child just because it is Christmas. Saying something like,

            “Oh come on, cheer up. It’s Christmas”

will only serve to drive the child deeper into self-doubt and confusion.

Allow the child to have a safe place to express what is bothering him or her. Assure the child that no matter what is happening that there is a Savior who will walk beside them. From that you can talk about the baby Jesus and why we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Empathy and understanding will help the child get through the holidays.

Many children of divorce will use Christmas to manipulate their guilty and sometimes warring parents to get what they want. For the child that is into how many gifts they are going to get, join in the excitement. Use pointed questions to open the door to the real meaning of Christmas.

An example might be,

            “Oh my, you sure are excited about all those presents. What are you going to do             with all of them?”

Gradually turn the conversation toward the most important gift of all, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It might be that the child has never really heard or understood why we celebrate Christmas.

Some children may only come every other Sunday so it will be hard to get them involved in celebrating Christmas.

It might mean you

  • Send a special Christmas card addressed to each child in the family wishing them a Merry Christmas
  • Mail an invitation announcing any Christmas activities at church
  • Find a willing volunteer to give them a call and wish them a Merry Christmas
  • Find out if they have enough to eat during the holidays and take food in for a Christmas dinner. Include some special treats for the kids
  • Explore the family’s situation to see if the single parent they live with has any extra funds to purchase something for their children at Christmas. Perhaps special gifts could be donated and taken to the house for Christmas.
  • Provide a way for the children to purchase or make a special gift for the parent they live with or even for both parents.

Children in single parent homes don’t have the ability for one parent to take them shopping to buy a present for the other parent. And many won’t want to ask the parent they live with to give them money and take them shopping for the other parent.

Just a few extra things will help the child of divorce survive the holidays and learn about the true meaning of Christmas. If you are too busy then find someone who will take on ministering to the child of divorce at Christmas.

Written for Imagine Ministries, Jill Waltz

Linda Ranson Jacobs
DC4K Ambassador

© 2012 by the author

This publication is protected under U.S. Copyright laws [© Linda Ranson Jacobs, 2012]  However, it is also a ministry to those who need it. While you may pass along this article freely, please check before reprinting anything in another publication. In most cases, all she requires is proper credit.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Nothing in this or other emails or materials from Linda Ranson Jacobs should be considered as psychological or legal advice. Linda is not a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or lawyer. These suggestions are simply suggestions and not guaranteed solutions to your particular problems. Linda offers this information because she was a single mom for years and ran a child care where the majority of her children were from single parent families. She offers support, encouragement, and suggestions to help you succeed as a single parent.

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