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Parenting Page Session Four 
Journey from anger to sadness

This week's goal:
To help you become familiar with the grieving phase of depression or sadness in your children.

What the experts say:
"Research has shown that children as long as ten years after the divorce are still depressed. What is at root of the depression is the loss they have experienced. Not only the loss of a parent, but the loss of dreams, the loss of ideals, the loss of the intact home. God has designed us to respond to loss with depression, which can be damaging to children [if they do not learn how to recognize and cope with it]. Of all the emotional consequences of divorce, this is the one emotion that parents pay least attention to," says Dr. Archibald Hart. *

One family's story:
One divorced mom had an eight-year-old boy and a twelve year-old girl. Sometimes when the mom was sad, the boy was happy and the girl was mad. Other times the mom was happy, the boy felt mad and the daughter was sad. They realized that each one felt differently at different times. When the boy was sad, he liked to eat applesauce. So the mom bought him jars of applesauce. The daughter liked to go to her room and listen to music when she was sad. So the mom bought her some music CDs. It was decided that each person in the family would respect the others and give them some space when they felt sad or mad, but it was still important to connect with each other every day. They decided to hold family devotions each morning. They took turns reading out of a devotional book and praying for each other.   ( Story came from Divorce Care workbook at divorcecare.com)

You may notice some changes in your child at church or in the schoolwork or interactions with friends. 
Make sure to be in touch with your children's teachers and school counselors so that you are aware of any moments at school where they may seem depressed or having a difficult time.  Their grades may drop.  Their energy levels may be low. Make sure they have an outlet or some way they can get some of their feelings out, whether it be physical, or through play time or art.  Counseling can be a very helpful tool.  

This week's Scripture focus:
Deuteronomy 33:27: 

"The eternal God is your refuge,and underneath are the everlasting arms."

Activity:  Art is a great way to get some feelings out without having to say it all out loud.  Have everyone draw a picture of what the divorce feels like to them and then have each person tell about it.  A few months later do the same thing and see if there is a difference in the feelings.  Plan an activity where your family works together on a service project. It can be a very bonding experience and when we reach outside of ourselves we tend to start focusing on others and realizing that others are going through hard times too and it warms our heart to help and be in service to them. 

Building family strengths:

Paying close attention to your children's emotions is very important.  Though you may be busy with your job and all of the responsibilities you have in your life, really take the time to notice any changes in their behavior and talk it out with them. Make sure that are having daily family prayer and scriptures.  These essential tools are very powerful and come with great promises in them.  It builds a solid foundation.  Every night or morning before prayer, go around the circle and have everyone state 3 things they are grateful for. It changes the atmosphere and attitude of everyone involved.  

*Church Initiative interview with Christian clinical psychologist Archibald Hart.