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March 23, 2009

Care For Children of Divorce: What Is Your Church Doing?

Dad and daughter.jpg As you may recall, Elizabeth Marquardt has conducted research that confirms that children of divorce suffer from loneliness. As she puts it, "Growing up, the children of divorce feel lonely, set apart, adrift, too often misunderstood." What you might not have known or thought about is that those same children might be sitting in a pew next to you, feeling that sense of loneliness and estrangement.

Marquardt is sharing information with readers about how churches can start to combat this problem. She's offering free copies of her DVD, Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, to churches and parachurch organizations.

Marquardt also offers information about an outreach program, Divorce Care for Kids. Are any Pointers or Pointificators familiar with the program?

(Image courtesy of ToTheSource)

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I'm very familiar with Divorce Care for Kids and highly recommend it. It's a complementary program to the Divorce Care for adults, both of which are designed primarily to be outreaches from the church into the community. When I was writing my book (Child of Divorce, Child of God) I talked with Linda Ranson Jacobs who wrote the Divorce Care for Kids curriculum, as well as Elizabeth Marquardt. Both of them are doing great work, although Linda's is from a more purposefully evangelical perspective.

Linda Ranson Jacobs

DC4K is changing many children's lives around the world. Even before DC4K was released we heard from our pilot churches that DC4K was already impacting children's positive outcomes. Not only are children being given hope, a better understanding of the divorce process and the ability to identify their feelings, adult lay leaders and teen aids who experienced the divorce of their parents are also healing the emotional wounds from childhood.

I am the person that developed DC4K. The principles, the outcome based objectives, the activities and even the stories in the read aloud storybook are based on actual experience with children. Over 30 years of experience with children are wrapped into DC4K.

We hear the children's stories from leaders all over the United States, South Africa, Australia and other places. We here from school teachers, grandparents, ministers and even professional counselors that children are calmer after attending DC4K. They are better able to concentrate in school, take part in church classes and even communicate better with the divorced parents.

DC4K allows each child to lay down split loyalties and just be a kid in a neutral and safe place. It connects them with other children who are healing and who can laugh and have fun with them. Games, snacks, stories and video dramas along with a weekly story from the Bible assist children who are confused and upset about the divorce.

Linda J


And for all these helpful things we need to do, we also need to get back to the Biblical teaching on divorce, and divorce and remarriage that so many churches have ditched over the past 20 years. Preventing the divorce in the first place is the single most effective thing we can do.

Kim Moreland

Thank you Linda J. It is nice to hear from the program developer. I'd be interested in receiving future progress reports. Cheers, Kim


I have been a DC4K Safekeeper for several years. Here are a couple of my favorite stories.

The first week, we make a "Storm in a Bottle." It reminds us that God holds the storm of divorce in His hands. One little girl loved her Storm so much, she slept with it on her nightstand every night. Several months later, the little girl had a friend whose parents were getting a divorce. The girl gave her Storm to her friend.

The concept of safety is emphasized - leaders are called Safekeepers. We regularly evaluate whether behaviors are Safe or Unsafe. One little boy was mildly autistic and very energetic. After DC4K one night, his mother and I were chatting in the hallway. The boy was literally running in circles around her, with one arm around her torso so he could balance. She was frustrated by this and asked him to stop. He did not want to. I suggested to him that maybe this activity made his mom feel Unsafe. He stopped immediately, his mouth open and his eyes wide. Mother agreed that it made her feel Unsafe - it made her feel dizzy and confused. You could see the wheels turning in this boy's mind as he was given information in a way he could process!

Do you remember the story of David & Goliath? Remember when King Saul gave little David his own armor? It was very fine, high quality armor, but it was too big for David - it was a burden instead of a blessing. DC4K provides kid-sized ways of learning and healing. I recommend it whole-heartedly!

Blessings to all of you!

Amy Gilford

We are familiar with Divorce Care and DC4K as well. It is a fantastic program and many have come to Christ because of it. Most of the people who come to it are from outside the church community and the courts do refer people to it here. The nice thing about divorcecare.com is that you can just plug in your zip code and find a nearby church that is offering the program. Having said that, I agree, that preparing couples better for marriage, and strengtheing and enriching current marriages, would help considerably to reduce the destruction of marriages and families.

Nora kovach

There has been a void in reaching these Children. Linda has filled that void. If we do not help them understand and deal with their feelings,emotions,and confusion they will grow up to be very angry adults who can not keep a job and have trouble in any relationship. Relationship trouble with trust, being submissive to authority,like a boss,& explosive or suicidal tendencies. Our society will pay greatly as well as these children, if we do not step in NOW and help them to move on instead of getting stuck in these emotions. As a Christian based program we are able to share with them a Heavenly Father they can always go to,always talk to, who is always there for them;that was key for me as a child of divorce many years ago.

Casey Antonakos

Feedback from parents of children who have attended this program at our church has been terrific. Improvement has been noted in the children's grades, behavior, attitude and communication. The skills the children learn in DC4K, such as good communication and managing anger, will benefit them their entire lives. Children are relieved to learn that they are not to blame for the divorce and that they are not destined to divorce when they marry. Most importantly, they learn that they can lean on God to help them through every difficult situation. I wish this program had been in existence when I divorced 25 years ago!

Holly Nelson

My dear husband and I are safekeepers for DC4K and we are also blending our family. We both brought teens to our marriage who are jr. safe keepers. I wish they had DC4K available to them at their times of pain during divorce but it is never too late! My 13 year old daughter has had her own healing moments as well as my new 17 year son. It is called an "ah ha" moment in DC4K Herbie language.
We are so committed and believers that we are meeting with a second church to create our second Divorce care/DC4K program soon. We know we can't heal every heart but we hope that we can let them know that God can.

Robyn Besemann

We have had DC4K in our church ministry for the last several years and the healing in these kids has been remarkable. Parents can't believe how their kids have changed and are so much more stabilized and even joyful.
These families are healing and now involved in our single parent family ministry. Praise God for His healing power and for prompting Linda Jacobs to develop such a magnificent curriculum that will effect generations to come!

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