Cross Over Ministries and the Hillsboro Presbyterian Church are collaborating to bring DivorceCare for Kids (DC4K) to Hillsboro. The 13-week program will be held each Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 9, through Monday, Dec. 2. While held in Hillsboro, the program is open to any child age five through 12 years old, and their parents, who are in need of the ministry-based service.
Spearheaded by Cross Over Ministries volunteer Lynette Weiss, the program organizers hope to bring much needed healing to area children and parents affected by divorce. Weiss, a child of divorce herself, had gone through a similar program alongside her son, following her own divorce. The closest DC4K program was in Springfield and Weiss made the weekly commutes to attend knowing the benefits it would have for her family. While titled divorce care, the program is for children going through any kind of family fragmentation whether the upheaval is due to divorce, incarceration, addiction or other factors. The mission of DC4K is to provide children with a safe, neutral place to gain an age-appropriate understanding of separation.
"Bringing divorce care to Montgomery County is something that has been on my heart for over a decade. It was incredibly beneficial to my son and myself when we went through a divorce care program," Weiss explained. "I was not even thinking about finally being able to start a local divorce care program when I started volunteering with Cross Over Ministries, but I couldn't stop myself from bringing it up when we were discussing local needs. DC4K fits perfectly into the work that we do at Cross Over: catch kids young and teach them the skills they need to be better at coping with the obstacles of life."
The interactive course focuses on teaching young children how to process and share their feelings. Each week of the program will focus on breaking down a different aspect associated with parental separation. The weekly topics include, What’s Happening to My Family,God Loves Children in All Kinds of Families, Facing My Anger, Journey from Anger to Sadness, I Am Not Alone, God’s Plan for Me, Developing New Relationships, Developing Money Smarts, It’s Not My Fault,Telling My Parents How I Feel, Forgiveness, Loving My Parents and Moving On: Growing Up and Closer to God. The goal of the sessions is to help children realize that life goes on after divorce.
While centered around healing, the topics are presented in a fun, interactive format. The sessions feature games, crafts, role playing, discussion times, journaling and activity books to help children process parental separation and move forward in their lives. The biblically-based support course places a heavy emphasis on teaching children to relax and rest securely in God’s love. The hope is that each child completes the course with the knowledge that despite the trials of separation they have the ability to create healthy and happy futures and relationships.
"In many ways a divorce is like a death. There is a profound sense of loss and pain, and our children are not spared from these feelings because they are small - they just don't have the emotional intelligence or vocabulary to express what they are feeling yet. Because they cannot communicate these complex emotions they internalize their hurt and guilt," said Weiss. "One of the things that shocked me when my family went through the program was how much my son really believed that our divorce was his fault.
"The divorce care program taught him that it is okay to express seemingly negative emotions like anger or sadness far better than I could as his mother, at that time, and I am a professional counselor. More importantly it allowed him to connect with other children, going through a similar hardship, and realize that he was not alone. "
While DC4K is geared towards children, an adult program will run concurrently at the church. While it is not mandatory for parents to attend the adult program, it is encouraged. Similar to DC4K the adult course aims to provide a space for single parents to come together to discuss the emotional aspects of divorce and how to raise thriving children in a fragmented family. Like the children's course, each week will cover a different topic and the group will share inspirational articles and real life experiences from fellow single parents.
"I can only speak for my own family, but enrolling my son in a divorce care program, and going through it myself, was one of the best decisions I made following my divorce. The real beauty of the program (for me) was that taking the adult program, alongside my son, gave us things to talk about and connect on an intimate level, at a time when we were both deeply hurt. It allowed us to go through the grief of losing our family, as we had known it, together. I really believe that this program helped both of us come out of this period of our lives stronger and better adjusted to tackle hardships."
While Hillsboro Presbyterian Church, along with the Hillsboro Ministerial Alliance, will be the first host of the DivorceCare 4 Kids program, Cross Over Ministries hopes to expand the program into Litchfield in 2020. The outreach would like the program to eventually run on a rotational basis throughout all of Montgomery County. The goal is to reach as many families as possible to help further them on the healing process, while spreading Cross Over Ministries' message that no one is ever alone in their pain.
The program has a $15 fee per person. These fees cover the cost of the workbook used in the program. There are scholarship opportunities available to help cover registration costs. Those interested may find more information or register for the program by calling or texting Weiss at 217-820-2143 or online at DC4K.org.
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