I’m the product of three parental divorces. Regardless of the circumstances swirling around each divorce, and without pointing fingers, I can simply attest to what those broken marriages did to me. Maybe you’ve felt this way too? These are the thoughts I didn’t share as a kid, but felt deeply in the aftermath. My hunch is that other kids of divorce have felt similar:
- I’m not worthy of keeping a marriage together. I’m not a good enough reason to fight for the union. In other words, I wasn’t enough to keep my mom and dad (stepdads) together. Something lacked in my love-ability. I didn’t have the charisma to reunite them.
- This life is wildly unpredictable. There is nothing I can do to prevent bad things from happening to me. (While this is true, it also led to fatalistic thinking.)
- I deserve chaos. The result of this belief became my almost-OCD tendencies to control everything about my environment. If chaos reigned, at least I could organize things, get good grades, dress nicely.
- I don’t deserve a father. The ache inside me remains, though Jesus has filled so much. Still, there are big moments of my life where I feel the absence more keenly. I believe some kids spend their lives looking to replace the missing parent, often through destructive relationships or unwise connections.
- Though divorce is common, I still felt out of place, like I didn’t belong. I longed for the Brady Bunch to become my family. I wanted a mom, a dad, a sibling. All under one roof. No divorce. No visitation. No fights between the two. No feeling torn in half. No feeling like I had to take sides. I wanted to be “normal.”
What got me thinking about divorce and kids was this excellent post on the blog her.meneutics. They’ve highlighted a book entitled The Children Of Divorce: The Loss of Family As the Loss of Being (Baker Academic), by Andrew Root, a youth ministry professor at Luther Seminary. I’m so thankful someone has addressed this issue from a biblical, healing perspective. In this culture of “It’s all about me and my needs,” it’s heartening to know someone is standing up for kids and exposing the damage divorce brings kids.
I’m not writing this to impugn those of you who have walked the devastating path of divorce, but to inform. If that is your journey, do your best to study up on the ramifications for your children. Dare to enter their world, listen to them, pray with them, and walk alongside them. If you’re a youth or children’s leader, be extra alert to the pain kids walk through. In my own mentoring of teenage girls, I can attest to the deep well of pain these kids go through when their parents call it quits. Let’s choose to be there for them. To be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.
Divorce is painful to kids. But the pain can be healed in a community of people who love the child of divorce, listen, pray and walk alongside.
How about you? Are you a child of divorce? How did you cope? How have you helped other children navigate the painful path?