The following is a devotional birthed out of recording artist Kim Hill’s personal story, written to help single parents guide their children through the fallout of divorce.
Divorce is experienced by children as a devastating event
When children experience their parents’ divorce, no matter how old they are, it’s a devastating event. When asked how the divorce made them feel, some kids say it felt like the world fell apart. Some say it felt like a tsunami hit their home and smashed it to smithereens. Some say it felt like winter came inside and made everything and everybody cold. Regardless of how they describe the aftermath of divorce, everyone who has had to deal with their parents splitting up will tell you it hurts. (That is, if they’re being honest.)
I have friends who were grown-ups when their parents divorced, and they said it still felt like the world was splitting in two. They say it broke their hearts and made them cry and wish things could be different. Even though they’re adults, they’ll still tell you they feel like they’re trying to straddle an emotional canyon—standing with one foot on the side with Mom and the other foot on the side with Dad.
Divorce is like a death in the family
I guess in a lot of ways, divorce is like a death in the family. It’s the death of a marriage, and everyone in the family feels the loss. It’s the death of what God meant for a family to be. Our dreams of living happily ever after basically get piled into a casket and buried, and it’s just plain awful for a while. And while God can heal the pain of divorce, it still changes things forever in our life. That’s why it’s important to allow yourself to express the pain, to be sad about it rather than pretending you’re okay when you really feel like your heart has a giant hole in it.
Your children will probably express other emotions besides the sad ones
It’s also important to know your children will probably express other emotions besides the sad ones. One day they might be tearful and clingy because your family isn’t what it used to be, but the very next day you might find them venting their frustration by punching holes in their bedroom wall. I have a friend who goes outside and throws eggs against a tree when she feels upset about her parents’ divorce—which I think can be a great emotional release for adults and children, unless your family happens to reside in a zero-lot-line neighborhood!
Remind your children of God’s great love for them
Ultimately, whether our kids express grief by hanging onto a teddy bear or by hurling groceries, our primary goal as a parent must be to remind them of how very much their heavenly Father loves them. Then we must reassure them they never have to hide emotion—sad or mad—from God or from us.
God, you see trouble and sadness. You take note of it. You
do something about it. – Psalm 10:14
Also by Kim Hill: Frazzled and faithful: Reflections on single parenting
*Article adapted by Kim Hill from Hope No Matter What: Helping Your Children Heal After Divorce by Kim Hill with Lisa Harper. Used with Kim Hill’s permission. This article was first published on the Beauty for Ashes blog in April 2010.