The popular TLC show “Jon and Kate Plus 8” has been all over the news recently as the couple featured in the reality show, Jon and Kate Gosselin, struggle with a quickly deteriorating marriage. Initially the show, which debuted in 2006, focused on the couple as they raised their eight children, a set of twins and a set of septuplets. This past season a record number of viewers have watched not just to see this family raise their children, but to see their marriage come apart at the seams. From the initial accusations of infidelity and verbal abuse, both Jon and Kate have turned their divorce into an all out media war.
Since publically announcing their divorce, Jon Gosselin has been seen partying in Vegas and New York. His 22-year-old girlfriend has drawn her own media attention by granting interviews to popular celebrity magazines. Police were called to Jon and Kate’s home when Kate was denied entrance into the house per their custody agreement. Kate claims the incident started when Jon left the children with an unfit babysitter while he went out with his girlfriend during his arranged visitation time. Jon states the whole incident was a miscommunication that Kate blew out of proportion. Kate has gone on the offensive, spending time doing numerous interviews about the divorce. Back and forth the arguments and accusations go, almost all of it played out in detail for the celebrity tabloids.

Most recently, TLC has decided to take Jon off the show entirely because of his off screen antics. Jon retaliated by trying to shut down the show’s production, claiming the children no longer wanted to be on the show. It is unclear if anyone is looking out for the children’s best interests as both sides continue to duke it out in front of the cameras. It’s hard to believe anyone will really win in the end.

While not every divorce is played out in the media like Jon and Kate Gosselin’s, lots of divorces we encounter in churches and schools are just as contentious. As Christians, God has given us unique tools to bring grace and healing into broken, sinful situations like divorce. We can teach confession and absolution to those who have wronged their spouse or their child. Teens can be taught how to love and honor their parents when their parents act less than honorably. By addressing the issue of divorce proactively, we can keep divorcing and divorced couples from spiraling into a situation such as the one we see in Jon and Kate Gosselin.

Divorce is never in God’s plan, but in a sinful world it happens. We all know youth in our ministries who are struggling with situations caused by divorce. As a DCE who works at a church with a school, I cannot even count the number of times our staff has had to deal with angry divorced parents who fight over everything from custody to payment to who helps with homework. Our church is considering starting a divorce care group in order to assist divorced members to deal with the end of the marriage in the light of God’s grace for us in Jesus Christ. I spend extra effort to communicate clearly with both parents of youth to help prevent miscommunication. I listen carefully to youth who are dealing with divorce situations so I can guide them to be positive lights in dark situations.  

How do you help children of divorcing or divorced homes deal with parents who are behaving in ungodly and upsetting ways? What sorts of resources do you use to help teens deal with divorce situations? What kinds of ways can we support one another as we deal with divorce in congregations?