Divorce and the Impact It Has on Kids

I recently spoke to a gathering of married adults.  They all had one thing in common.  Their marriages were struggling.  I shared with them the passage in Mark 10 where Jesus addressed marriage.

"Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan.  Again crowds of people came to Him and as was His custom, He taught them.  Some of the Pharisees tested Him by asking, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?'  

'What did Moses command you? 'He replied.  They said, 'Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.'

'It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,' Jesus replied.  'But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.'  

'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, (if you want to know Jesus' definition of marriage - there it is) and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.'"

Jesus said when a couple is married, they are joined together.  They "tie the knot" as the expression says.  "Tie the knot" is an old marriage custom of tying a couple's hands together as part of the ceremony. 

Jesus goes on to say, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."  God wants the marriage union to be permanent and last a lifetime.

But we know there is an enemy who comes to steal and kill and destroy (John 10).  His goal is to snap apart the union...to break the tie between a husband and wife.

Some of the ways the enemy tries to snap apart a marriage are...
  • lack of communication
  • infidelity
  • finances
  • abuse
  • trust issues/jealousy
  • life changes
  • spiritual differences
  • parenting issues
  • addiction
  • baggage
Every marriage feels the pull of the enemy trying to snap it apart.  But the key to a marriage that withstands the pressure is found in Ecclesiastes.

"And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."

When you bring God into your marriage, He is the strong cord that will keep your marriage from snapping.  As you put Him first and make your decisions based on His Word, your marriage will be able to withstand the pressure and last a lifetime.

This is critical because when a marriage snaps apart it not only affects the parents...it affects the kids as well.  Look at these recent findings...
  • Children from divorced families die almost five years earlier than those from intact families.
  • Facing parental divorce during childhood is the single strongest social predictor of early death, many years into the future.
  • Having one’s parents divorce during childhood is a much stronger predictor of mortality risk than is parental death.
  • The experience of parental divorce is strongly linked to earlier mortality from all causes, including accidents, cancers and cardiovascular disease.
  • For boys whose parents divorce, the risk of dying from accidents and violence is particularly robust, as they grow up to be more reckless. 
  • Children’s standards of living decreases, on average, when their parents divorce, but the psychological effects go beyond the economic changes.
  • Girls and boys from divorced homes tend to end their education earlier than those from intact families, with the expected problems that then ensue.
  • Boys and girls from divorced homes are more likely to smoke and drink when they get older, as compared to their peers from intact families.  Girls are than 100% more likely to become heavy smokers.
  • Those who have lived through their parents’ divorce when they were children are more likely to have their own marriages end in divorce, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.
  • A positive family environment—having positive feelings about one’s family—does not ameliorate the detrimental effects of divorce.  In fact, boys with positive family feelings live shorter lives, as it was especially traumatic to have a seemingly positive, functional home torn apart.
Pretty shocking, isn't it?  As I previously wrote in the post - parent ministry is actually more critical than children's ministry.  As children's ministry leaders we must focus on helping parents as much as we do helping kids.  You see...spiritually healthy marriages will produce spiritually healthy kids.  [tweet this]

How can children's ministry leaders help marriages?
  • always be thinking about parents when you create and plan
  • get involved not only the children's' lives, but the parents' lives as well 
  • build relationships with parents
  • partner with adult ministries to help reach and disciple parents
  • speak into parents' lives at key times in their family journey (more about how to do this here)
Remember...when you reach a child, you change a life...when you reach parents, you change an entire family. [tweet this]