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Divorce or Death: How To Help Grieving Children

Taken from Growing Seasons: How to Help Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses, a small group curriculum  by Jean Brunson. 

Published by Living Free Ministries. http://store.livingfree.org/Small-Group-Curriculums_c_51.html

Ages and Stages

Infants: Babies believe a person or thing only exists when it is in their field of vision. Grief for an infant is caused by breaking the bond. If bonding is broken in the first two years of life, babies need to quickly bond with someone else. This is essential if they are to establish trust in their world. Infants and toddlers also respond to the emotions of those around them.

Preschoolers: Little children still do not fully understand object permanence. They think death is reversible, like it is on cartoons. This is an age of much magical thinking. They may believe they did something to cause the the loss.

2 Kids Walking on Red Tulip Garden Under Blu Sky

Ages Six to Ten: Early elementary age children are still concrete in their thinking, so it is important not to use euphemisms in explaining death. They understand that death is final but may think of it as a ghost they can outsmart.  After a death or divorce, they feel much sadness but they think they can control it. They need to be encouraged to express it. Boys tend to be more prone to expressing their emotions of anger and acting out while girls seem to show more sorrow.

carefree, child, enjoyment

Eleven to Teenage: Preteens tend to act angry because it seems more acceptable than sadness. They may long to retreat into childhood and look for meaning in the the loss. Any adolescent rebellion that occurred before the loss can cause feelings of guilt. Children this age may have difficulty concentrating in school.

adult, beautiful, blur

Grief from a loss of any kind does impact children. I hope this blog will help some readers who are dealing with a grieving child. Please feel free to ask questions or make comments. I am here to help. However, each situation and each child is different, so any suggestions I might make are only suggestions. They are not to be considered as counseling. Please help me start the conversation.

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How Much Time Do You Really Have?

Can the end of time be near? I am not a scientist or a prophet, but I read the Bible and books on prophesy. I heard that during both World Wars people expected Jesus to return at any moment. I would have thought so, too, if I knew the Nazis murdered eleven million Jews. Do you understand how significant that event became? Many times through-out history, Jewish people have been the target of hate and murder, but they still exist. What does that tell you? It tells me God loves them, and even though most didn’t accept His Son, He still loves them and has a plan for them. That’s the kind of God He is. He is a God of love.

Why do I believe the end is coming soon? If global warming is true, then why has Boston had record-breaking snowfalls? Is that global warming? Maybe it is. Maybe the weather changes are part of the birth pangs recorded in the Bible. Why have there been many more storms through-out the world lately. What about the increase in earthquakes and floods? Why have mountains blown their tops, so to speak. Birth pangs? A thought worth considering. A century ago people rarely traveled more that about fifty miles from their homes. Now a trip across the world takes less time than it might have taken our ancestors to travel fifty miles. Birth pangs of the end of time as we know it? It could be. At least think about it. Consider the present times and then consider what the Bible says:

Jesus said in Matthew 24, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginning of birth pangs.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn against the faith and betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to the nations, and then the end will come…For then there will be great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened….

“At that time the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the earth to the other.”

I believe Jesus Christ came to earth in the body of a man and the spirit of God. As promised throughout the Old Testament, Jesus signified the perfect Lamb, the only one who could sacrifice for the sins of believers. If a friend gave you a gift card for your favorite restaurant, wouldn’t you spend it? The death of Jesus became your gift card for eternal life. You can accept that truth, ask his forgiveness, and join his spiritual family or you can choose not to. For your sake, I ask that you read the Gospel of John so you will understand the truth. You can’t work your way to heaven. If you could, Jesus would not have been sacrificed on the cross. Your faith in his gift saves you, not works.

Is this true? Will you be ready? Are you willing to take the risk? What stops you?

If this blog has brought you closer to a decision to become a member of God’s family or if you have any questions, please comment.

Teaching Children about God

What spiritual messages do you want your child to hear?

Infants                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You need to answer that question almost as soon as the precious bundle of joy comes into the world. Why? Consider this. From birth to age two children learn more about the world than at any other age. They learn whether the world is safe or scary and hurtful. Right after birth they may think, What is that bright light and why am I hanging upside down?  They need tender touch and soft words to feel secure. Infants who don’t feel loved will have a difficult time learning to trust.

Age Two                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Around the age of two their world view takes a quantum leap. They seem to change overnight. They may think, My mommy will give me an apple when I ask for one. Two-year-old children believe everything they hear and see. They have no way to know if the messages they receive are true.  They begin to understand they have choices. The word “No” sometimes gets them in trouble and sometimes helps them feel as if they have some power. They think concretely, so be sure you explain spiritual words, such as God and heaven. My two and a half-year-old son came into the room one Sunday morning as I was getting his sister ready for church. He said, “That man on TV said God is a Holy Ghost. God isn’t a ghost, is He?”

Preschool                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As children approach the preschool years, they think for themselves more and more. They open their hearts to new ideas about spiritual issues as their spongy minds seek to understand the world they live in. They learn from many sources: their families, their friends, their teachers, and even television. Truth and lies vie for their attention. They still think concretely, yet they start to learn and love the traditions of the religion practiced by their parents. Preschoolers may not remember exact things that happened to them, but parents can help till the fallow ground of their spiritual beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. At age four, my son said, “I am going to dig a big hole and push the devil into it.”

Elementary Children                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Children as young as six can make religious decisions that will impact their entire lives, including where they will spend eternity. Spiritual beliefs and decisions made in the early elementary years tend to stand firm. Josh McDowell said on Point of View radio, “If you don’t reach a child for Jesus before the age of twelve, you have only a four percent chance of reaching him (her.)” My children both accepted Jesus as their Savior at age six.

What spiritual messages do you want your child to hear? What are you doing to make sure your children are hearing the truth?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Taking Jesus to the Streets for Children

2 black boys  Good News, The Face of Memphis is Changing

Memphis has a long- standing reputation for crime, poverty, and racial prejudice. Churches want to change that. There is a synergistic movement of God’s people to take the love of God to the streets, especially to families with children. More churches are starting to adopt schools. Members volunteer by tutoring after school, providing supplies for parties, helping and encouraging teachers. Women volunteer to mentor young mothers. Christian college students move into inner-city neighborhoods just to share God’s love to their neighbors. Men volunteer to help young fathers understand that their children need them as well as their mothers in the home. Convoy of Hopes comes again for a second year to give food for families, games for the children, and prayers for all. Much work needs to be done and the movement is growing. Prayer groups meet through-out the county to pray for the city.

Giving Children Hope and Wisdom

What do the under resourced children in Memphis need most?  First, they need food, clothing, a home, safety and love. They need the love of parents and they need to know the love of God. Without these things, their chances of building a better life for themselves are diminished, but still possible. Too many children live in single-parent homes or with other relatives. To them it seems normal not to have a father, but inside they know something is missing. Gods plans for families included a father and a mother. This summer a new group from Central Church in Collierville, Tennessee heads to the city to help the children. We start with Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses. We plan to add Empowering Kids for Life, a biblically based program that teaches children the dangers of life-controlling problems, addictions and dependencies. So far, we present these programs at Orange Mound Outreach Center and Serving in Christ Outreach Center. We hope to expand to other centers and to afterschool programs in the future.

What About Your City?

Are the children in the city where you live crying out for love and hope? Are they missing a parent? Are they being recruited by gangs? Are they becoming addicted to drugs? How much does that cost you? Consider starting a Growing Seasons or Empowering Kids group in your church or community. It is easy. Please tell us about the community where you live and what you are doing to help the children there.

Precious Prayer

Česky: Kříže - symbol utrpení Ježíše Krista a ...

Česky: Kříže – symbol utrpení Ježíše Krista a jeho ukřižování (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heavenly Father, sovereign God.  We come before you on bended knee, mindful that you are the God of all creation, worthy of all praise & all glory.

Father, it must break your heart to see how far our nation has fallen in to sin.  Forgive us, Lord.  I pray that we as a nation would fall on our knees in repentance.  I pray for revival and I pray it would begin today

I pray for that any lost person that may not even know what they are seeking, they just know there’s an emptiness inside that they cannot fill.  Holy Spirit, speak to that one person today so that they might come to know the joy of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

I know many Christians are dealing with difficult issues; personal, health, financial.  Lord, reach out to each of us in our needs.  Bring healing to those with physical needs.  Bring resolution to struggling families and broken lives.  Provide opportunities of employment for those in financial need.  Wrap your arms around us and let us feel the warmth and love of your embrace.

Lord, over these next several weeks we will be bombarded with election news, polls & campaign ads.  I pray that truth would stand and falsehoods would be swept away.  The issues are not just the economy and foreign policy.  I think our founders would be saddened to see how far we’ve strayed from the principles upon which America was established.  As we approach this upcoming election, I pray that we would elect candidates who support Christian principles. As we enter the polling booth, I pray we will be guided by the Holy Spirit – not by the evil one.  I pray that on election day that we as Christians would stand together and let our voices be heard loud and clear.

Lord, you tell us to pray for our leaders.  I pray for all those in positions of leadership, for wisdom as they carry out the duties of their office, for an attitude of servant leader, not of self gain.  Lord, help them to know your will in the decisions they make and help them to be worthy of the office they hold.

I lift up a special prayer for the men and women of the armed forces of America.  They give so much of themselves and ask for so little in return.  Protect them as they perform their duties both here and in countries around the world.  Guard and provide for their families and give these brave men and women safe return home.  Your word tells us to pray for Israel.  Israel is surrounded by her enemies, and even now is on the brink of war.  Lord, we pray your hedge of protection around the nation of Israel and her people.  We pray against every man and every nation that seeks the destruction of Israel and we pray that you would give Israel victory over her enemies.  In the name of Jesus Christ, bind satan back from these your chosen people.

As we come to the time of offering into our churches, I pray that we would be cheerful givers, for all that we have comes from you.  Bless those who bring into your storehouse their tithes and offerings and make us good stewards of these gifts for the work of your kingdom.  Anoint our pastors as they come to bring your message each Sunday.  Let every word they speak be inspired by you.

We lift our prayers, our praises, and our adoration to you, O Lord, let your Glory come down and fill this place. And we pray all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord & our Savior. AMEN