When Kids Get Caught in the Crossfire
Thursday, October 19, 2023 by Doreen Wennberg
Two weeks ago, the world watched the surprise brutal attacks on Israel unfold. Many innocent people were victims of these horrific bombings from Hamas terrorists. Babies and children were among those caught in the crossfire.
We can only imagine—the trauma these children suffered in the face of such evil acts. Our prayers remain with the dear people of Israel for healing and peace in their country and the innocent civilians in Palestine.
While it may not be as extreme as terrorism, many children grow up in an environment where they get caught in the crossfire of family dynamics beyond their control.
All families experience dysfunction to some degree. No one comes from a perfect family. The Bible teaches that “We all sin and fall short” (Romans 3:23). Sin always affects those we love.
- A family member with strongholds of addictive substance abuse places kids in the center of uncomfortable traumatizing situations. Kids in these situations may experience family dysfunction at its highest when witnessing fits of rage that accompany addictive personalities.
- Couples may not aim for separation, divorce, or a custody battle, but sometimes it’s inevitable and hard on kids— even adult kids!
The purpose of this post is not to bash someone in these situations but rather to offer support and encouragement.
Perhaps you experienced one of these situations while growing up—if so, you know firsthand the damaging effects of getting caught in the crossfire.
Help for kids who get caught in the middle.
You may not be able to control or prevent every situation your child goes through, but you can always help them overcome the adversity they face.
Engage and listen to your child.
Take time to help them communicate their feelings. They may express fear of the unknowns of what will happen now. They may feel embarrassed by the situation. They may act out due to the anger and frustration they’re carrying. They may feel guilt but not always express it. Many kids feel at fault for their family’s situation—that they did something to cause it, and that of course, should always be addressed.
Listening is sometimes hard and more needed than words of comfort, and that takes discernment. Listening offers them a voice to express themselves. Listening helps you to hear how to pray.
Don’t bash the other parent.
It can be hard not to bash the other parent in front of your child. Try to help them maintain a healthy relationship despite your feelings towards the other parent. But no matter your differences, the opportunity to model forgiveness even while learning to do that— will help your child’s future relationships. Pray for the ability not to let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth and for the words to build up the other parent so that your listening child will benefit. (Eph. 4:29).
Get professional counseling or therapy.
There is no need to suffer alone when family issues are too difficult to navigate alone. Advice from a trusted godly friend is sometimes all that you need. Other times professional help may be necessary, and there is no shame in that. Mental health is important. Don’t let pride or cost keep you from getting help for yourself or your child.
No one wants their kids caught in the crossfire; recognizing it and taking steps to change their environment and get help—will help them overcome any trauma they’ve experienced.
We pray for families today that may be in the middle of battles with children caught in the crossfire. We ask for your intervention where needed. Give courage and a sense of peace to both parents and children going through traumatizing situations. Lead parents to the right places for help for themselves and their children. We ask for your healing of the broken places in their lives. ~In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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