Talking to Kids About Divorce: A Biblical Perspective

April 02, 2024

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How can we explain divorce to a child? Whether you are personally going through a divorce or have loved ones who are, it's important to equip children with a biblical understanding of this difficult topic. Tune in to gain practical wisdom and biblical perspective on explaining divorce to children.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today.

Now, today's question is one that we have gotten a number of times at Foundation Worldview, and so I think it's really important for us to think through. And this question is "How can I explain divorce to a child?" Now, whether you yourself are walking through a divorce or have walked through a divorce or whether you're happily married, but you just have others in your life who are divorced, this is something that we have to think through. How can we explain this to children because divorce is a reality in this fallen world. So we're going to dive down deep into answering that question today.

Now, this concept of divorce, as it relates to the concept of marriage, is one I have actually been thinking through a lot recently because as I record this podcast, I just recently finished writing the first draft of the script for our next upcoming curriculum, which will be called God's Good Design, and it is a curriculum that will be 30 lessons for kids ages four on up that we'll talk about the goodness of God's design for our bodies, for our minds, for gender, for marriage and family. And in this curriculum we go through different corruptions of God's good design that we find in this world. And so we cover divorce and what divorce is. So what I'm going to walk you through now is just what we cover in this curriculum and how you can walk through this with the children that God has placed in your care.

So the first thing that we do in this curriculum and that it's important for us to do with any of our kids is to lay the biblical foundation for marriage. Because anytime that we are talking about some kind of sin in our world, some kind of corruption of God's good design, we first want to make sure that we have laid the biblical ground for what is the goodness of God's design. That yes, we live in a broken fallen world because of our sin, but that was not the original state of this world, nor will it be the final state of this world. And so the way that we just lay this biblical foundation for marriage in the God's Good Design curriculum is we take a statement that apologist Greg Koukl uses frequently and he summarizes it so well what marriage is. And so we say in this curriculum using Greg Koukl's phrase that God designed marriage to be one man and one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime. I'll say that one more time. God designed marriage to be one man and one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime. And so we want our kids to understand that that's what marriage is. It's one man and one woman. It's not two men, it's not two women. It's not a group of three people or more people, it's just one man and one woman. And what is significant about the marriage covenant is that a husband and wife become one flesh.

Now, if you followed the Foundation Worldview ministry for a while, you know that we recommend that you start having talks with your little ones about the goodness of God's design for sex at the age of three. So they should be able by the age of four to understand what it means to become one flesh. And then the final part of that is for one lifetime, that God designed marriage to be permanent while on this earth. Then the next truth that we cover with little ones in this God's Good Design curriculum is that marriage is a picture of Jesus and the church. And we take them right to Ephesians chapter five, which talks about husbands and wives reflecting this mystery that God has revealed to us of Christ and his bride, the church. So we want to help our kids see how this picture, this one man and one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime points to a reality that is greater than itself. That it points to Jesus's self sacrificial love for the church and the church joyfully submitting to Jesus. So we want to make sure that our kids have this biblical foundation that God's, sorry, let me say that more clearly. I stumbled over my words. God designed marriage to be one man and one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime, and marriage is a picture of Jesus and the church. We want to focus on the goodness of this.

And then after we focused on the goodness of marriage, that's when we can introduce the concept of sin. Now, focusing on this is not just going to be in one 10 minute conversation that I would recommend in our God's Good Design curriculum, we spend 15 whole minutes in a lesson on that first truth and 15 whole minutes in a lesson on that second truth. So spend some time on these truths. Then when we introduce the concept of sin, what we need to teach our kids is that sin corrupts God's good design. It takes something that is good and corrupts it, distorts it or ruins it. And so we can take our kids to Genesis three and show them the passage about Adam and Eve rebelling against God and then the punishments that Adam and Eve received and because they were sinful, all of us as Adam and Eve's children have inherited that sin. And so we're going to see the effects of that sin all around us. However, that is not the final news, and that's where in the next lesson in this curriculum, we take kids to the truth that Jesus defeated sin. That the fact that sin corrupts God's good design is not the end. That Jesus defeated sin, that he lived the perfect life we could never live. He obeyed God's law perfectly. He died in our place on the cross bearing God's wrath against our sin. And then he rose again to new life three days later winning the victory for us so that now those who turn from their sin and trust in him can be given new life in him. And one day we will be resurrected. We'll have resurrected bodies and will live with him in the new heaven and new earth forever. So we want to give our kids this hope that is a reality based hope. That's when we can then connect this concept of sin corrupting God's good design to divorce. And we can explain that a divorce is a corruption of God's good design. Now, everyone who is involved in the divorce is not necessarily at fault for it. There are times when people get married and then their spouse chooses to walk away from Jesus or their spouse chooses to leave them for another person. And so divorce is not always the fault of one of the people who is involved, but divorce is always a corruption of God's good design that God. That is not what God intended from the beginning. And so we need to explain to children, especially if those of you watching and listening, especially if you have walked through a divorce or you are walking through a divorce and your children have been affected by this.

One thing that's really important to explain that we make sure that we cover several times in the God's Good Design curriculum is that if a child's parents are divorced or divorcing, it is not the child's fault. That they had no fault in this, that we're seeing sin corrupt God's good design, but it is not this child's fault.

Another thing that we tell them in this curriculum is that it is okay. It's even good to feel sad and to grieve a divorce because this sadness reminds us of the goodness of God's design and how terrible it is that sin has corrupted God's good design. So we want to make sure that we don't try to rush our kids through some grieving process, but let them actually have time to grieve because divorce is a sad thing. It is a difficult thing because that is not what God originally designed. But we don't want to leave them stuck in this sadness. We want to remind them of the hope, and this is how we wrap things up in the God's Good Design curriculum with this truth - that when Jesus returns, God's good design for us will last forever. Say that one more time. When Jesus returns, God's good design for us will last forever. That yes, in this life we live in a broken, fallen, corrupt world and difficult things happen and there are many things to grieve, but that is not the end of the story because one day Jesus will return not as the suffering servant, but as the conquering king, and he will make all things right and his good design for us will last forever.

Now, if you are watching or listening to this podcast and you are walking through a divorce or have walked through a divorce, just a few things that I think are really important for you to think through.

One is the importance of building close relationships with couples and families in your church who have biblical marriages. Because even if you are not in a biblical marriage right now, it's really important for your children to see one modeled and so that they can understand what this should look like even if they're not seeing it modeled in your home.

Another really important thing is for you to get biblical counseling for your child or for your children to help them process through this divorce. And something that is always recommended by a ministry that I really appreciate, Visionary Family Ministries, they always recommend that if a child is going through counseling, that you don't put them in counseling alone, but that you go to family counseling. Because sometimes what happens when a child is putting counseling alone, they're working through all of these things without you there to guide them and to work through these things as a family where God has designed the family unit to be united. And even if your family unit is broken in that you have gone through a divorce, you want to keep it as intact as possible and go to family counseling so that your children have an opportunity to process through these things and you have an opportunity to learn from the counselor how you can help them and what things they are going through.

And then something that is really also important is that if you have walked through a divorce or you're walking through one that you don't try to make it seem like this is part of God's good design. I've seen friends on Facebook who have walked through divorces, post memes about telling your child, you don't come from a broken home, you come from a home where love has been multiplied. And I understand the heart behind that, that we don't want our children to feel shame over something that they had no control over. But we also want them to understand that the pain they're experiencing is real for a reason because this is not part of God's good design. Yes, God does promise that he will use this and all things for good in your life, but this divorce is not the picture that of the ultimate reality. We want our kids to know that in the new heavens and new earth, the pain and reality of divorce will be no more because the bride, the church, will be forever wedded to Jesus. So it's really important that while we don't want our children just to stay stuck in this grief for that we not try to make divorce seem like it's part of God's good design, that we let them know that there's a reason that they're feeling sad, but that sadness of understanding that sin corrupts God's design can ultimately lead them towards the hope. That Jesus has defeated sin and when he returns God's good design will last forever. And that's the hope we want to point our children to.

If you haven't already checked out our upcoming curriculum, God's Good Design, I highly recommend that you check that out because it will walk your children through this concept of divorce as well as the biblical foundation for all of these things, for God's good design, for our bodies, for gender, for marriage, for family, as well as different corruptions. Not only divorce, we talk about things like abuse and pornography and homosexuality and transgenderism in developmentally appropriate terms for little ones, helping them gain a biblical reality based understanding of these topics.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that you would trust that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves including divorce, you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.

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