Whether it’s an acquaintance, a friend, or even a close relative like a grandparent, your children will likely be witness to divorce sooner rather than later. Perhaps by God’s grace, he has sustained your marriage, and you’re not sure how to talk with your kids about divorce and its fallout in others’ lives. As parents, it’s our job to train our children to understand what God thinks about divorce and, therefore, how we should think about it as well. There are at least three principles that can guide you in these conversations.
1. Speak about God often
In Deuteronomy 6, God calls Israel to surround themselves with the law and talk about it with their children in their homes so that it would be on their hearts. As God’s people today, we can make our dinner tables, car rides, and bedtimes the “doorposts and gates” where we discuss God and his Word with our children. If we equip our children to know from an early age what God has to say about marriage and divorce, they will be better prepared to understand these issues when they arise. Though there are many voices competing for our children's attention, it's our responsibility as parents to build a lens through which they interpret the world. Let your voice be the first place your children hear about divorce.
2. Speak honestly and carefully about divorce
Divorce is a sad reality in our culture, but that doesn't make it any less scandalous. "No-fault" divorce and "falling out of love" may be normal language that we hear, but these concepts are foreign to the Word of God. Although there may be innocent parties involved, divorce is always the result of someone's sin. Our children need to hear that the Lord designed marriage to be permanent (Matt. 19:6). We do, however, need to proceed carefully when talking about the sin involved in divorce. There may be things our children are not prepared to hear, especially when involving key relatives in their lives, like grandparents. Jeremy Pierre has provided some helpful ideas for what those conversations might look like here.
3. Speak about the unfailing love of God
Without a doubt, the most important thing your children need to hear about divorce is that God is not like us. Even though our sin can invade our lives and tear apart our relationships, God’s love is unfailing for his children (Psa. 13:5). He has promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6). He has promised that nothing will separate us from his love in Christ (Rom. 8:38-39). And he can redeem those who turn to him (1 Cor. 6:11). The precious promises of God’s love bring hope and healing in the face of the broken promises of divorce. Teach your children the wondrous love of God.
Having this conversation with your children is difficult, and that is not a surprise to God. It’s never easy to talk about sin and its effects on the world. We speak God’s Word about divorce to our children because we want to show that God has the final say on these matters. While we do so, may we also speak with the hope of the gospel to show that sin and brokenness do not have the final say.