Monday, March 28, 2011

Prepare for the losing formula of divorce.

I write this entry today not to shame anyone who has gone through divorce or those considering it. I will try to tread lightly as to not offend or hurt anyone's feelings but I will speak the truth and sometimes that can be painful. If I cause anyone any grief I apologize in advance but understand that it is not I that brought you grief, just a reminder.

Unfortunately divorce happens. I learned recently that I live in the divorce epicenter. It has become part of our culture and in my opinion it has become way too easy and too acceptable. However each one has it's own set of circumstances and I acknowledge some are warranted. I also proclaim that some are not. I know a little about this subject because I have been through nine divorces. However, I have only been married once and am still happily married thank you Jesus! Yes - I have been through nine divorces through the eyes of a child. I have endured my parents divorces. My wife can say about the same. We are the poster children of dysfunction and by all logic our lives should be a mess. But they are not. Our lives aren't perfect but they are pretty darn good. We turned out pretty good but we did take our bumps and bruises along the way. I was inspired to write this after I spoke with a child whose parents were divorcing. As I looked in his eyes I could feel his pain. As I tried to think of things to say to him to give him some peace, I could only tell him this: "I totally get what you're going through because I've been there and it sucks - I'm sorry".  Anything else I say to him is hog wash and he would know it. The thoughts of what goes through a child's mind rushed through me as I too vividly remembered processing it as a child and not being able to make sense of it.  Let me tell you what happens inside a child when parents divorce.

A child generally has two parents in our traditional thinking. Generally that marriage consist of the dynamic duo of parenting we call Mom and Dad. However, I believe these two are much more than a duo. Marriage is between two people, Man and Woman. This is God's plan. Yet, marriage is designed to align with another holy relationship: The Blessed Trinity - Father , Son and the Holy Ghost(spirit). Lets consider marriage in that same context: Man, Woman and the Marriage as defined by God.

So if we consider a marriage as a trinity it takes three parts to make it whole. Take any part out and the marriage is dissolved by death. Let's consider the child here because after all that is our subject. The child has three parents in the trinity. In divorce, to a child, it means the death of a parent. Not literally of course but spiritually. To a child that is what it feels like to go through divorce, particularly the first one with primary parents.

The emotions a child goes though in divorce, although different, are not entirely unlike the death of a parent and in some ways can be worse. The biggest factor emotionally is guilt. Some kids may even feel guilt and responsibility for the divorce although that was not the case with me. However, I think ALL children of divorce will suffer unwarranted guilt and there is no means for prevention. They will feel guilt over feeling like they are choosing one parent over the other even when the choice isn't theirs to make. They will feel guilt over seeing their parents suffer through the pain of divorce. They will feel guilt seeing siblings upset. It's just  part of straying away from God's plan.

They will feel unwarranted anger. They will be mad at one parent for leaving and the other for not trying harder. They will be mad because the disruption it causes in their life. They will be mad because they are embarrassed.  They will be mad because the only thing they can understand is that what you are doing is stupid and selfish even if it isn't. These feelings will happen and again it is the result of straying away from God's plan. The age of a child can have varying effects as can multiple divorces. I will tell you this, even as an adult, when my parents divorced, it had impact on my life because I am still that child. I have had step parents that I loved that are no longer in my life. I have ex-step parents that are still in my life and I still love them today. Still- It's not God's plan.

Other emotional instabilities can be created by divorce as well, however, a happy, healthy child can be raised in a broken marriage. Just know that some degree of damage is done. The risk of a troubled life are greatly increased in a divorce. It is the equivalent of exposing your child to spiritual cigarettes hoping they don't get cancer. If you are a divorcee, I know this is hard to hear if you have children. I'm sorry if it hurts but I won't apologize for saying these things.  I will tell you this - "It sucks - I'm sorry". If there is no option but divorce, just be aware of the storm your kids will have to endure. Let them know you understand and that you agree that it sucks. It's OK to point out silver linings and anything positive but don't try to deceive them into thinking things will be better because they will not be. Most importantly make sure they know they are loved.

I thank my Mom and Dad for loving me through the storm.

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