In addition to feeling a sense of loss, especially if a parent has left the home, children may experience shame, humiliation, fear, instability, and confusion. This may manifest in any number of ways, including behavioural problems at home and school, nightmares, even alcohol and drug use. Parents are urged to keep the lines of communication open with their children and seek the help of a Christian counsellor specialising in children’s needs and issues.
Setting Boundaries: Some Children Don’t Have the Luxury
"Those weekends were a nightmare for my sister and me. Not only were we forced to leave our mother and friends, but we were placed in a culture we knew nothing about. It was not just a foreign culture; it was one which was anathema to the community in which we were raised. It was as if I had fallen asleep and woken up in a bizarre alternate reality. At the end of the day, my father would not walk into the bedroom with my mum, like he had done before. Instead, he headed off to bed with a man I had met only days before." — Jeremy, age 23
Shock and Humiliation Impacts Kids Too
"It all came out of the blue … I hadn’t thought about the issue before. I don’t know what to say when people ask why my parents got divorced. I don’t want to answer them. You don’t want people to know. You don’t want to answer them. You don’t know what they’ll think of you and your family." — Bryce, age 16
The Opposite Sex Parent Caught in Homosexuality Can Lead to Insecurity
"It was a big shock when my dad came out to me. I started crying. I didn’t say anything. I tried to brush it away, but I knew what it meant. I knew it wasn’t something approved of … that God didn’t approve of it. I wanted it to all go away. I love my dad, no doubt; however, I get worried that the same thing that happened to my mum might also happen to me." — Taylor, age 18
If a spouse refuses to seek help and refuses to change, it is almost impossible that your child will escape their youth without some scars and bruises. But take heart, every one of the children and adult children we interviewed have deep, solid relationships with Jesus, relationships forged through fire and grace. The children interviewed also talk of being more compassionate and loving to the outcast. Here are some of their words:
The Resilient Love of Children
"After many attempts, I mustered up the courage to talk with my dad. I sat on a chair and he sat on a stool in his workshop in the garage. My dad knew that this was personal and he was afraid – and my heart broke. He had lived his entire life in fear …fear of himself, fear of exposure, fear of rejection. It’s a blur how the conversation started, but in the end, I knew what I needed to say. I told him that I loved him and forgave him – the same way he had loved and forgiven me over the years. Relief washed over him and he softly said, ‘Thank you. You’re the only person that’s ever told me that.’ To this day, his response breaks my heart. God was teaching me to love my father." — Sally, age 25
A Mature Understanding of Faith
"I may or may not see my dad whole and redeemed, but I know that I’ll be healed. I’m learning to quiet myself more and more. This has put me in a place where the Lord says to me, ‘Am I enough for you, or are you still trying to find hope within your family?’ My prayer life has changed from the laundry list to ‘Lord, What do you want of me?’" — Lyndsey, age 23
Finally, we encourage parents to stay involved with and close to their church family. It’s important that your children have mentors, role models and godly friends during this trying time for your family.