How do you minister to a child whose father has abandoned the family?

Last week, I was summoned by a 6-year-old little girl in my church.  I have a good relationship with her and she wanted to talk to the pastor, so I agreed.  Her mom brought her by our house one evening to talk.  She had some questions about why her daddy had left her and her mommy and was no longer living with them.  Much like the situation I faced last year in my discussions with the 5-year-old girl who lost her daddy in a car crash, there is no playbook or minister’s guide when a hurting 6-year-old girl wants to talk and wants some answers.  Here is what I told her:

What her daddy is doing is wrong.  We can be tempted to sugar coat painful issues with children, but I was in no position to spare her pain.  She was already experiencing plenty.  What she needed was truth.  Truth understood at a 6-year-old level, but nonetheless…truth.  I affirmed what she already knew.  Her daddy simply deciding he does not want to be married to her mom anymore and left as a result is wrong.  It is against what Scripture teaches.  It is sinful and God is not pleased.  Realize you are speaking to a child so keep that in mind, but do not shy away from speaking truth to her.  If she comes to the pastor to ask thoughtful questions, we at least owe her brave little soul that.

God teaches us important lessons when we suffer.  A very thoughtful question that came from her mouth was, “Why is God allowing my daddy to leave?  If God is good to us, then why would he allow this?”  Yes…only 6 years old.  I cannot tell her, her daddy will come home and everything will be alright.  I do not know.  What I did say is she needed to know a common way God is at work in the lives of all Christians, regardless our age.  God teaches us some amazing lessons when we suffer.  We may not see them now, but we will see them clearer when some time has passed.  I believe this smart little girl as well as other children can begin to understand this merciful quality about our sovereign God.

Jesus will always be there for you.  I am uncertain if her daddy will come home, but I am certain that if this little girl trusts in Jesus Christ, Jesus will never forsake her or her mom.  Whether 6 years old or 60 years old, we must always turn the eyes of others off the struggle and urge them to fix their eyes upon Christ (Heb. 12:2).  I reminded her that even though those she loves in her life will let her down, Jesus will never forsake her.  I shared the gospel with her and allowed this to be a key time for her to see her need for Christ both for forgiveness of sin as well as to have a King and Father who will always be with her.

It is hard to know the fruit from this conversation.  Yet, can you imagine the work God could choose to do in this little girl’s heart if she believes these truths about God and how he works his grace in our lives as her world crumbles around her.

Speak truth.  Remind children of the character of God and that he is faithful even in suffering.  Remind them of their need for Christ.  Do not be amazed years later if you look back on this painful moment as a turning point in that child’s faith as they grasped the truth of God’s Word because of a heightened desire for answers that provide hope.

Posted in Battling Sin, Home and Family, Oversight of Souls
2 comments on “How do you minister to a child whose father has abandoned the family?
  1. Sandra Van Court says:

    Excellent. Just what they both needed to hear. Thankful you are there for them.

  2. Christina says:

    When we moved back to Nebraska our daughter made friends with a girl, her mother had gone to High School with my husband. I knew very little about her father or that she had a half brother, until he went to Iraq. We never sugar coated things with her. She never asked or talked about him. When her mom had to work late she stayed at our house because she did not like to be alone. we watched movies with her when our daughters were doing homework or were sick. We never tried to parent her that was her mom’s job. Her mom finally married a very nice man. This girl also married a good man. Both of my daughters consider her a best friend to this day. She has given my husband cards on father’s day. She considers her self a member of our family and we the same to her. She has given us three wonderful grandchildren. Oh dear I have to figure out what to two of them for their birthday, they are in November. I have many birthdays in November. Some times God wants us to fill in a little for the missing person so they have a good roll model like my husband did so they can make good decisions at adults.

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