MORTON — Going through a divorce can be a stressful and difficult time, not only for the adults involved but children as well.
James and Ann Lauer of Morton hope to help children between the ages of 5-12 years old through this difficult time by offering a support group called DivorceCare for Kids or DC4K.
The 13-week cycle will begin from 6:45-8:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at Grace Church in Morton located at 1325 E. Jefferson St., which is at the corner of Jefferson and Tennessee. The Lauers are facilitators for the group and are not licensed psychologists.
A support group for adults going through a divorce or recently separated was formed about 12 years ago, James Lauer said. After experiencing his own divorce, he began going to the sessions. When it was over, he started helping in the adult group.
Each week there is a different focus. The group offers resource information for housing, food and other areas of one’s life that have been impacted. At least one session is about the impact on children. After reflecting on that impact, Lauer decided to offer the program to children.
“People going through a divorce in many ways are like people who have experienced a death — it’s the death of a relationship,” he said. “Connecting with others going through a similar experience helps while healing. Some people don’t say anything, some talk a lot.”
Similar discussion opportunities are offered in DivorceCare for Kids. The Lauers said they do not ask participants to share unless they want to. Parents are not told specifics of what is said during the discussions, but the Lauers are mandated reporters and must report any suspected abuse.
The first cycle was in January 2015 and started with two children. By the end they had four attending. They hope to be able to help even more children this time around.
The program is free. Materials, including the activity book utilized during the 13 weeks, are provided. The Lauers recognize that sometimes with a working, single parent it is difficult to have dinner before the sessions begin so there is a light dinner along with snacks.
Because the goal is to help children and parents heal, the adult and child cycles are offered at the same time and in the same place. Parents receive a list of topics for each week along with a weekly “Parent Page” to understand what takes place in the youth sessions.
Some of the session topics include “What’s Happening to My Family?”; “Facing My Anger”; “It’s Not My Fault”; and “Telling My Parents How I Feel.”
“Each week deals with a different emotion,” Ann said. “There is some discussion with lots of activities, including games, reading, DVDs and singing. We keep them busy. It is a Christ-centered ministry tool designed to bring healing to children with divorce.”
While Bible verses are part of the sessions, DC4K is nondenominational.
“Being a Christian is not a requirement, but we want to be up front,” James said. “We want kids to know it’s not their fault and things will get better.”
During the weekly schedule, children participate in activities that range from five to 15 minutes long. They read and discuss stories written about children going through divorce and potentially very similar questions, thoughts and feelings arise.
Ann said literature she has read suggests that participants repeat a 13-week cycle because their perspective changes over time.
Although this is a free service, registration is suggested by calling 266-9281.